Issuing a Completion Notice – tips for Billing Authorities

Completion notice confirmationIf you work in a Billing Authority you will be well aware of the complexities that arise when issuing a completion notice. It is certainly one of the most regularly queried topics our rating and valuation helpdesk tend to deal with for both domestic and non-domestic properties.

A completion notice as many of you are aware is the document that specifies the completion date for recently built properties or work completed as a result of alteration. It states the date that a property can be added to the rating list and subsequently billed for tax purposes.

When to issue a completion notice
A Local Authority needs to be aware of a new development or of significant alterations to an existing property and keep track of the works being undertaken. This is to ensure that a completion notice is served when the work has been completed and is a known date, or where the works could be reasonably completed within a specific time.  This will typically be issued when the building has been completed or where the Local Authority believes the work can be completed within the next 3 months and will state the date the Council believe that the build or works can be reasonably completed by. An occupier or agent operating on their behalf can dispute this and take this to a Valuation Tribunal with evidence of what work still needs to be completed. However in most cases both parties do try to work together to reach an amicable agreement on the completion date, to save on time and resource.

Withdrawing or pushing back on a completion notice
A Billing Authority does have the right to withdraw a completion notice if it is provided with sufficient evidence as to the reasons why the build will not be completed in time, this can then be re-served when the property is in a position to be completed.

Billing Authorities do generally stay in contact with agents or occupiers throughout the progression of the works to get updates and to carry out their own inspections to ensure the building will be completed on the date issued on the completion notice. However more often than not our experience suggests dates quite often get pushed back where an agent or occupier states that a number of different works are yet to take place.

In many instances these works can be considered non-essential to the overall build and structural integrity of the property and quite often should not impact the completion date. For example final fitting of electrical fixtures, connection of utilities (although services should be laid on site) and internal decoration does not need to have occurred for properties to be considered complete. However all works remaining should be expected to be reasonably completed within three months.

In a recent case Wilks Head and Eve were instructed by Greenwich Council in relation to over 200 individual flats whereby a completion notice had been served by the Council. The owner believed that the date stated was incorrect and the works couldn’t have been reasonably completed by this date.  We were able to review the evidence and the detail of the works which were remaining and agreed a mutual date based on our own judgement of the evidence presented as to when the remaining works could have been completed. This was to the satisfaction of both Greenwich Council and the Owner.

Completion Notices  – How Wilks Head & Eve help
At Wilks Head & Eve we are regularly called in to carry out additional site inspections providing a building surveyor to estimate the amount of time required to get building works complete or provide advice on whether the initial completion date still stands. We review other cases we have dealt with which supports these findings and regularly refer to case law to push back on those occupiers or agents who are trying to wrongly delay completion dates. We also have expertise in dealing with disputes and mediating between Local Authorities and occupiers to agree revised dates without having to spend time and resource on going to Tribunal.

Getting a completion notice issued in the right time frame can mean the difference in thousands of pounds for Authorities when it comes to revenues collections.  Find out how Wilks Head & Eve can assist by emailing or call 020 7637 8471 for more details.