With so much focus on energy bills at the moment, it’s easy to forget the other costs attached to running a property. One unavoidable bill, whether you’re an owner occupier or living in a rented property, is council tax.
Many of our clients ask us property band and council tax questions, so we have answered the most common below:-
Q. What is council tax?
A. People living in properties have been paying money to local authorities or those in charge since the Norman Feudal System in 1066. Today, people living at a domestic address in England have to pay their local council authority a set amount every year – usually paid over the course of 10 months – and this is known as council tax.
Q. What does council tax pay for?
A. Your council tax helps to pay for the services that a local authority supplies, such as refuse collection, street lighting, environmental health, trading standards and libraries, among other day-to-day essentials. Some of the money may also be shared with the emergency services.
Q. Does everyone pay the same amount of council tax?
A. How much a household pays depends on the value of their property. Even now in 2022, the value is based on the price the property would have sold for on the open market on 1st April 1991 in England, and 1st April 2003 in Wales.
Q. What are property bands?
A. Each property is given a letter that puts it into a set property value ‘band’. The bands range from A to H. In England, properties in the A band are worth £40,000 or less, with properties in the H band valued as the most expensive. The full set of bands and more detailed information about them can be found on the Government’s dedicated webpage – How domestic properties are assessed for Council Tax bands
Q. Can I challenge my property band?
A. If you’re not happy with your property’s band, you can ask the Valuation Office Agency to perform a reassessment. You may ask this to be done if you have made your home significantly smaller, for instance. Be aware, however, a reassessment may see your property put into a higher band.
Q. Do I still have to pay council tax if my property is empty?
A. That depends on your circumstances and the local authority’s stance on vacant properties. In some cases, council tax will be suspended after a death or if the property is derelict awaiting refurbishment.
Q. Can I get a discount on my council tax?
A. Some individuals can apply for a council tax discount but each council will have its own criteria. Qualifying characteristics can include: being in receipt of benefits, student status, receiving a low income, having a disability and sole occupancy. Discounts are sometimes granted where a property is empty due a lack of tenants but this is at the discretion of the local authority.
Q. Does a landlord or a tenant pay the council tax bill?
A. This depends whether the property was offered to rent with ‘bills included’. The tenancy agreement will stipulate if the annual council tax is included. If the property is a House in Multiple Occupation, each self-contained unit may receive its own band and, therefore, its own council tax bill. It’s advisable to check with the landlord if there’s an individual or shared bill when budgeting.
If you would like to know more about the band of a property you are interested in moving to and what the annual council tax bill may be, contact us for advice.
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