Help! . . Council Tax Band Change Rejected

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Hi everyone! I’ve never posted on the forums before but thought here would be a great place for advice! This is a bit of a long one so hope you're settled in with a cup of tea before you start reading!!

I’m looking for a bit of help on my Council Tax as I have recently contested my band and have had my appeal to have it lowered rejected . . . I know there's much bigger problems in the world right now than council tax but if anyones been in a similar situation or if anyone can offer any guidance it would be very much appreciated.

So, a bit of background - I purchased my first property back in September 2019 for £150k, which is a two bedroom flat in Liverpool City Centre. It is just under 1000sqft and is spread over two floors with a small outdoor balcony, set within a block of 105 properties over 4 floors (I’m on the fourth). The properties range from 3 bedroom duplex flats to studio flats  and the building itself was built in the 1930s (not a listed building though) and was functioning as a post office until its conversion in 2001 to flats. 

During the course of the first 6 months in 2001 the properties on the fourth floor were sold at a price ranging between £120k to £150k (however all are nearly identical). When they were refurbished back then it was one of the most modern developments in the city centre, however since then the building has been poorly looked after - theres damp issues across a lot of the building, and the old crittall windows on the lower floors are rotted and in need of replacement - the building itself is in need of a lot of refurbishment as nothing has been refreshed since 2001. The same goes for my flat, it still had the old, nearly 20 year old bathroom and kitchen in it when I purchased it and have had to spend a fair amount trying to ‘fix’ years old issues with it - although its a nice, standard flat and I’m happy with it, its far from palatial, which brings me onto may main point - the band I’m in.

My council tax band for a 2 bed outdated flat is Band E . . . yes, you read that right, thats BAND E! 

As soon as I took over the property I realised this didn’t seem quite right, and on a trip to my local council to set up my council tax (and during later conversations) THREE individual members of Liverpool City Council have, of their own accord, said they thought that band was ridiculous and that I should challenge it, which prompted me to do so. I read up about challenging my band and understood that I have to submit a claim (and as I know now, any subsequent challenges to the decision) within 6 months of taking over the property. This meant that I had until March to submit my claim to contest my band. 

I followed the MSE advice before doing so:

1.To look at what my neighbours bands were - sadly everyone on my floor was on Band E also, but this is my main point of contention, as I feel the whole floor is on an incorrect band (the three bed duplex apartment on the first floor of my building which is larger than my property and valued higher is on Band C, whereas I’m on E).

2. To use the valuation check calculator to see what my property was worth in 1991: Which I did - I put in my purchase amount of £150k and it gave me a 1991 result of around £50k, meaning my band would likely have been band B - although I know this isn’t set in stone...(out of curiosity I put in a valuation of £250k which the property could potentially have been valued at if the building had been cared for and the property prices had grown from their 2001 value - even then my result was to be on a lower band than E!).

After these checks I decided to go for it and in November I sent off my application to the Vaulations Agency and submitted the ‘evidence’ to support my claim. As my evidence I submitted a 15 page document of evidence (I like to be thorough!!) which looked at properties within a one mile radius of mine. The list I submitted wasn’t exhaustive, just a quick check which included 13 different properties all of higher value, larger in size and in better, more luxurious developments than mine, that were all on LOWER bands than me or the same, including:

A luxury waterfront apartment valued a £507k, 2381 soft - Band E
A luxury dockside apartment valued at £430k, 1224sqft - Band D
The Duplex on the first floor of my building, valued at £154k, 1364sqft - Band C

...Ok I think you catch my drift here! 

I received a letter from the Valuations agency stating the decision process can take up to 4 months so I knew it was a case of just waiting to hear back from them - I submitted at the end of November but hadn’t heard anything by the end of March which was their deadline. I know everything is all a bit mad and held up at the minute due to Covid-19 so gave them an extra few weeks as I know a lot of workers aren’t working from their offices due to not being able to reach them on the phone a few weeks ago, so ended up finding an email address and contacting them last week.

I heard back today from the Valuations Agency, who said that they couldn’t send out my decision again as no one was working in the office (fair enough) but sent me the supporting documents, which to summarise, stated that Band E was fair for my property and my case to change my band has been rejected but I could take it to a tribunal - which I intend on doing. However, the supporting document they sent was dated January, but I have received no correspondence from them, so either the letter was lost in the post or in error they haven’t sent anything to me.

To add to my problem, it appears the whole process of contesting my band-including the tribunal to contest the Valuations Agency decision - must be done within six months of taking over the property - I’m now on my seventh month due to waiting for their decision that I never received.

I was just wondering if anyone else had had an issue like this? Or maybe if someone has had their band challenge rejected but then won at a tribunal? Also, can your council tax band change during the course of the properties life? Or is it stuck with the band it was given at finalisation/refurbishment until someone contests it?

Thank you in advance for any advice!  :)

Comments

  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,716 Forumite
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    edited 29 April 2020 at 6:34PM
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    The state of repair of a property cannot be taken into account for CT banding.

    As you appealed against the banding within 6 months, then do not worry about subsequent dates, Tribunals won't be sitting for months, because of the current situation everything will be delayed so please be patient

    Finally, CT bands are frequently changed
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
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