In today’s market it is becoming increasingly common for homeowners to stay on in their property longer than they otherwise might do (as we have seen in Channel 4’s Love it or List it programme with Kirsty and Phil) by choosing to improve their homes to maximise space and also to add value.
One particular example of this is the creation of large open kitchen/diner/family spaces which is currently very popular and can result in properties being significantly extended in size.
If you are looking to buy a property which has been altered from its original construction, there are many factors to consider including planning permission, building regulations and also in relation to the various covenants which concern the land. One other factor, which is often overlooked, is the effect alterations may have on a property’s council tax banding (even though the issue is mentioned in the Law Society’s protocol ‘Property Information Form’).
The problem is this. The council will only reassess a property for council tax purposes if they are aware that improvements have been made to the property which may affect the property’s valuation for banding purposes. Even then, the reassessment will only take place following a ‘relevant transaction’ and not immediately following completion of the alterations. A sale is a ‘relevant transaction’ so, in most cases, the buyers are the first to hear that the council tax is to be reassessed after completion has taken place.
Therefore, before buying a property which has been altered, it is important that a check is made against the valuations list where the property’s exiting council tax banding can be found. This check is quick and free using the following government website:
If the property has been earmarked for possible reassessment, there will be an ‘improvement indicator’ noted in the table next to the address.
There will of course be cases that slip through the net, for instance if the alterations were not completed in accordance with necessary planning and other Local Authority consents, the Council may have no knowledge of the alterations whatsoever and of course no improvement indicator would exist!
This is just one of many reasons why it is important to have the appropriate expertise in your corner whenever you are buying your home to give you peace of mind that your interests are protected. If you require any advice on property matters then please contact a member of our property team who will be more than happy to help.