Council Tax Appeal. How to proceed from here?

I have been enquiring about my Council Tax bands on & off for several years now. I have received communications from the Valuation Office Agency & from my local Council regarding this but nothing of any help.

I can provide more details if necessary & if anyone here requests them but in the meantime, here are the basic details (which have turned out to be much longer than I wanted)

I live in a very small village in the North of England. I have lived in this property since 2010 but only relatively recently have I become aware that I could find out what CT band other properties are in and from that, I am paying more council tax than most of my neighbours

There are only 12 dwellings in my postcode & all are completely different. They range from small to medium sized bungalows to a large double fronted detached house, with several smaller detached houses making up the rest.

The largest house is in Band E & the only other premises in that Band is mine which is one of the medium sized bungalows.

When I have challenged the banding, I have repeatedly been told that the evidence I have supplied is not sufficient because

You have not provided enough evidence in your email to allow us to undertake a review.

Our records show that the list of properties you provided differ to your own, and considering all the evidence available, either in relation to age, type or size, we cannot consider them as comparable evidence.

To be considered as comparable, you would need to provide evidence of properties in your locality that are:

•           The same type, for example detached or terraced

•           A similar size

•           Built at a similar time


So to be accepted as evidence by the VOA, The evidence we need may include any of the following:



Evidence of identical, or very similar properties to yours, in your locality (within two miles of your property, this can be extended to ten miles for rural areas) which are in a lower band, please provide full address(es) including the postcode(s) of your comparable(s)

There are no identical properties. I have included properties in an adjacent postcode but this has also been rejected.

and/or

Sales evidence in your locality, very close to the valuation date of  1 April 1991 (no more than two years either side of this date), which suggests your property might be incorrectly banded,

This would require me to be able to access information from a time before I even knew that the place existed.   Recent sales figures count for nothing.  (I sent details of a VERY similar property in the adjoining postcode that sold only last year.  Same layout, same size & number of room but built later so they did not class this as "compelling evidence"

and/or

Evidence that an error was made when your property was banded.

Again, requires information that I cannot possibly have.

We will investigate the band if you are able to provide more compelling evidence to suggest your property has been incorrectly banded.

So, That’s a “No” then?



Despite this, I sent further evidence from the adjacent postcode but their reply was the same.

A further complication seems to be that, many years before I owned the bungalow, the name was changed for some reason. This means that I cannot get any historical data as the old name is still listed on the Council website but is showing as “deleted”. The properties listed under both the old & new names have the same Local Authority Reference number & both have no Improvement Indicator.


When I questioned this with the local council, I was amazed to find out that according to their records, the CT band had actually been REDUCED in 1993 from Band F to Band E! However when using the on-line valuation calculator to find the estimated value of the property in 1991 (Which the bandings are based on), it tell me that it should be Band C.


I was at that point that I had had enough & they had ground me down.


However, after recently discussing it amongst friends & others in the village, everyone I have spoken to is amazed at the Banding & agrees that it must be a mistake.  The other Band E in the postcode is so obviously larger & more expensive than anything around it.   In fact, when the Government gave the cost of living CT grants last year, my LA must have thought that my property was in Band D or below as it paid me the £150 refund, only to reclaim it a couple of days later!


So, after a much longer post than I anticipated, what can I do now? Can I request that someone from the VOA actually visits & sees for themselves?


Is there an Ombudsman or similar for this?


Thanks for looking.


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Comments

  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,600 Forumite
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    If you are not happy with the way your request has been handled you can make an official complaint, details are the VOA website. If you are not happy with the outcome, then get in touch with your MP, but be aware the VOA are well used to dealing with MP queries
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Takedap
    Takedap Posts: 805 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    If you are not happy with the way your request has been handled you can make an official complaint, details are the VOA website. If you are not happy with the outcome, then get in touch with your MP, but be aware the VOA are well used to dealing with MP queries

    If there a facility whereby I can request an actual physical inspection of the property?  I suspect that the initial valuation was done on a "drive-by" inspection.
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,600 Forumite
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Takedap said:
    If you are not happy with the way your request has been handled you can make an official complaint, details are the VOA website. If you are not happy with the outcome, then get in touch with your MP, but be aware the VOA are well used to dealing with MP queries

    If there a facility whereby I can request an actual physical inspection of the property?  I suspect that the initial valuation was done on a "drive-by" inspection.
    You can ask, but there is no legal obligation for the VOA to agree. Have you asked the VOA what measurements they have for your bungalow? If not' ask them and check if you get the same result
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Takedap
    Takedap Posts: 805 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Takedap said:
    If you are not happy with the way your request has been handled you can make an official complaint, details are the VOA website. If you are not happy with the outcome, then get in touch with your MP, but be aware the VOA are well used to dealing with MP queries

    If there a facility whereby I can request an actual physical inspection of the property?  I suspect that the initial valuation was done on a "drive-by" inspection.
    You can ask, but there is no legal obligation for the VOA to agree. Have you asked the VOA what measurements they have for your bungalow? If not' ask them and check if you get the same result
    Thanks for this.  I'll ask what info they are using.   I've seen today that on the Land Registry Open Data website that although they have got the date that I bought the place right, they have assigned the sale to the old name of the property (deleted on the Local Authority website) which was changed, according to them, back in 1993.   Any advice on how to proceed if they revert to their "That's not evidence" routine?
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,600 Forumite
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    I wouldn't get too hung up on the change of property name in relation to CT, unless there is a possibility the current name could be confused with another nearby property.
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Takedap
    Takedap Posts: 805 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    I wouldn't get too hung up on the change of property name in relation to CT, unless there is a possibility the current name could be confused with another nearby property.

    I gets a both more complicated than that though. 

    There is a reference to a sale that happened before the name was changed but has been signed to the "wrong" name. 

    This sale is quoting a purchase price which cannot(?) be correct.  It comes from a time way before I had any interest in the place so I don't know for sure.  But the sales price quoted is almost twice the average price for a similar type of property in this area.  It states that someone paid 185K in 2003 (when the average price for the area was only 104K. 

    Is this where this Band F listing came from?  Are we sure we are actually looking at the same thing.    It looks like there might have been a sale in 2003 but over 6 months after these changes were registered.

    I paid 172K in 2010 & that corresponds to a much closer area average of 170K which also translates back to a Band C valuation for 1991 when the bands were set when using Martin's calculator on this site. 

    I would be happy with Band D!

    Anyway, I've written to them again today & we'll see what they come up with this time.

  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,600 Forumite
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    I don't want to complicate an already complex issue, but I'm ex VOA and about 40 yrs ago there was a small time developer who built a bungalow and called it "Myhouse" and months later either extended it and split it into 2 or moved to a new bungalow (or build a new one) and transfer the name. So there had been at least 3 different properties called "Myhouse".


    Are you getting these transaction details from Land Registry as I found Zoopla had listed my 1998 purchase of my home at 3 times what I paid for it.
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Takedap
    Takedap Posts: 805 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    I don't want to complicate an already complex issue, but I'm ex VOA and about 40 yrs ago there was a small time developer who built a bungalow and called it "Myhouse" and months later either extended it and split it into 2 or moved to a new bungalow (or build a new one) and transfer the name. So there had been at least 3 different properties called "Myhouse".


    Are you getting these transaction details from Land Registry as I found Zoopla had listed my 1998 purchase of my home at 3 times what I paid for it.


    All of my info on the financial side has come from either the Land Registry Open Data (Price Paid Data) website and the the Land Registry Open Data (House Price Index) website. The data on how the property (properties?) are listed has come from the Gov.UK (Council Tax Bands website & the "historical data (ie, estimation of 1991 values) come from the MSE guide on challenging the banding.

    The only time I have used any kind of estate agency site is when I was compiling evidence of other local sales which they have dismissed as being irrelevant as my property is not identical to the ones I quoted.
  • lincroft1710
    lincroft1710 Posts: 17,600 Forumite
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    edited 1 February 2023 at 4:07PM
    The MSE guide is at best little better than either the Halifax or Nationwide guides, neither of which are accurate
    If you are querying your Council Tax band would you please state whether you are in England, Scotland or Wales
  • Takedap
    Takedap Posts: 805 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    The MSE guide is at best little better than either the Halifax or Nationwide guides, neither of which are accurate
    Well to be quite honest, following a fiasco regarding my wife's National Insurance & pension status, I have very little faith in the accuracy of any Government record keeping either.   But I'll just have to see what they come back with.
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