Guidance

How domestic properties are assessed for Council Tax bands

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) explains how domestic properties are valued for Council Tax bands.

Council Tax valuations are based on the value of properties that aren’t used for business purposes.

The value is based on the price the property would have sold for on the open market on 1 April 1991 in England and 1 April 2003 in Wales.

All properties are banded on the same basis, including properties bought under discount schemes, such as Right to Buy. The purchase price discounts applied to these properties aren’t taken into account when setting the band.

The VOA doesn’t use property price indexes for information or valuations.

Council Tax bands in England (based on 1 April 1991 values)

Band Value at 1 April 1991
A up to £40,000
B £40,001 to £52,000
C £52,001 to £68,000
D £68,001 to £88,000
E £88,001 to £120,000
F £120,001 to £160,000
G £160,001 to £320,000
H more than £320,000

Council Tax bands in Wales (based on 1 April 2003 values)

Band Value at 1 April 2003
A up to £44,000
B £44,001 to £65,000
C £65,001 to £91,000
D £91,001 to £123,000
E £123,001 to £162,000
F £162,001 to £223,000
G £223,001 to £324,000
H £324,001 to £424,000
I more than £424,000

Every property will be banded for Council Tax if it qualifies to be a dwelling (a self-contained accommodation used as a home). To be a dwelling, we will look to see if the property is either habitable or capable of repair.

In limited circumstances, we may ‘delete’ a Council Tax band. This means that a property will not have a Council Tax band and the taxpayer will not pay any Council Tax until the property is entered into the list again following completion of work or service of a completion notice by the local authority.

If a property is occupied, it’s generally assumed to be habitable and the band will not be deleted, even if significant repair or renovation works are underway.

If no one is living in your property, and it is either:

  • in such poor state, that to repair it would give a property of a different character
  • undergoing a major scheme of works so that the whole property is now uninhabitable

Then you can make a proposal to have the council tax band deleted by using the “Challenge Your Council Tax band” page on the Gov.uk website.

Council Tax band assessments

The VOA assesses properties to ensure that they’re in the correct Council Tax band. They automatically assess some properties, for example when a property has been made smaller or when a property is newly built. The VOA also assesses properties when asked to do so, such as during a Council Tax appeal or band review.

Assessments are based on a number of factors, such as a property’s:

  • size
  • layout
  • character
  • location
  • change in use
  • value on 1 April 1991 (England) or 1 April 2003 (Wales)

Check your Council Tax band in England and Wales or Scotland.

property that’s increased in size may move to a higher band when it’s next purchased.

If you have any concerns regarding the assessment of your Council Tax band contact the VOA.

New properties

When a new property has been built, or an existing property is converted to domestic use (for example, a warehouse conversion), the property will need to have a Council Tax band.

If you’ve moved into a property that doesn’t have a Council Tax band, you should contact your local council. They’ll provide the VOA with the information they need to allocate a band.

There’s guidance available on how to start paying Council Tax.

Making sure your property is in the right band

In a select few situations a banding can be changed without a sale. For example, if a property is extended with a self-contained annexe.

In England, any increase will apply from the date that the Council Tax valuation list is altered. You don’t need to tell us about sales, as this information comes to us from the purchaser’s solicitor via the Stamp Duty Land Tax Office.

In Wales, the annexe will be brought in from the date it came into existence. Any change to the band of the main house will usually be from the same date.

Visits from the VOA

If the VOA is unable to get enough information to band a property, they’ll arrange a visit.

Usually, the VOA can get all the information they need from outside, so they won’t need to disturb you. The inspector will often take photographs to save time. Generally, only 1 or 2 external pictures are necessary – much like an estate agent would use.

If the VOA can’t get all the information from the outside, they may ask to go inside the property. If photographs of the inside are needed these won’t be taken without your permission.

Inspections can only happen with your consent. VOA staff inspect property in accordance with the government’s code of practice on exercising powers of entry.

The VOA will arrange the visit when it’s convenient for you. Visits usually take 10 to 30 minutes. If you have any questions, please contact us. The contact details can be found on the appointment letter.

Staff always carry and present identity cards that include their photograph. If someone claims to need to inspect your home for Council Tax purposes and you have your doubts, don’t allow them access. Please contact the VOA to check the identity of callers if you have any concerns.

Enquiries

Banding of houses in multiple occupation

Many HMOs were originally built as large houses but are now occupied by multiple households. The starting point is that each separately let part qualifies as a separate dwelling with its own band, whether or not it is self-contained. There may be circumstances, however, where the VOA can amalgamate the bands in particular circumstances. Here are some examples of how different types of HMO are banded:

  • HMOs with little or no adaptation: Where minor adaptations like door locks are added, and the occupants of the separately let parts share the kitchen and bathroom of the original house, then the VOA can put the whole property into one band
  • HMOs with adapted letting rooms: Separately let rooms in a HMO may have been structurally and/or physically adapted, for example, so that they have their own kitchenette or separate shower/bath and WC. They will be given their own band even though may share some facilities. In making a decision, the VOA will look at all the facts, including whether the property has been structurally altered

Examples

HMOs with little or no adaptation: Where minor adaptations have been added then the VOA can put the whole property into one band. This could be where door locks are added and the occupants of the separately let parts share the kitchen and bathroom of the original house.

HMOs with adaptations to each floor: A single band can be given where each floor of a house let in parts has standard facilities and can be treated as a self-contained unit. This applies where the occupiers of the floor share a kitchen and a bathroom.

HMOs with adapted letting rooms: Separately let rooms in a HMO may have been adapted, for example, so that they have their own kitchenette or separate shower/bath and WC. They will be given their own band even though may share some facilities. In making a decision, the VOA will look at the degree to which each part has been structurally altered.

Purpose built HMOs: These properties would generally not be combined and would have separate assessments for each internal unit.

There’s more information available in practice note 6: premises in multiple occupation.

Your local authority calculates a separate Council Tax bill for every property banded and collects payments. The council is responsible for applying relevant discounts or exemptions.

If you believe your band is wrong, or your household shouldn’t be banded at all, you may be eligible to appeal.

Holiday lets

Any property that is used for commercial purposes may need to be rated for business rates purposes, depending on the exact nature of its usage.

Find out more about the rules around usage for holiday accommodations.

Council Tax bands and annexes

It should be noted that you should not expect the following alterations to impact the VOA’s decision on whether a separate area of living accommodation still exists:

  • removing a sink without removing the drainage and pipework
  • removing a cooker without any other works

Some properties occupied by one household (e.g. one family unit) are identified as consisting of more than one self-contained unit.

A self-contained unit can mean both a living space that is separate from other accommodation, and also living accommodation that is connected to, and sharing an access with, adjoining accommodation.

By law, any building, or part of a building, which has been constructed or adapted for use as separate living accommodation must have its own banding.

Example

“A family adapts two rooms in their house so that a relative is able to live with them. This includes installing kitchen appliances and a toilet and shower and also creating a single entrance to the new annexe. As a separate area of living accommodation this annexe would normally require its own Council Tax band.”

The VOA will make a decision on every case based on the specific nature of the construction and / or adaptation of the property, such as:

  • independent access to, or access from, a hallway, landing or other common area
  • its own facilities for sleeping and preparing food
  • washing facilities and a toilet

Only physical features are considered when deciding whether or not an additional area of living accommodation exists within a domestic property, not how it’s used. A separate Council Tax band is still required if an area of a house, flat or other domestic property which could be occupied separately is vacant.

If you have an annexe you may be entitled to relief from the local authority. Contact your local authority for more information.

Accommodation occupied by tenants wouldn’t be treated as an annexe, but it would still have its own Council Tax band.

Various discounts and exemptions are administered by your local authority (council).

If you’ve removed a separate area of living accommodation by making physical changes to your house, flat or other domestic property, you should contact the VOA. The VOA will only be able to remove a Council Tax band if the area or annexe has been sufficiently altered so that it could no longer be lived in separately.

The VOA is unable to give specific advice on any planned changes to a property. They can only explain how relevant Council Tax regulations are applied.

If you think your property has incorrectly been given an additional Council Tax band, you have the right to appeal that decision.

Alterations

A notice of alteration is a letter sent to you if your property valuation listing has changed on the Council Tax valuation list.

You’ll receive a notice of alteration if:

  • the banding of your property changes
  • a new property is brought into the Council Tax list
  • the date the banding is effective from changes
  • the address of your property changes
  • your property has been deleted from the Council Tax list

If you receive a notice of alteration you don’t need to do anything. If you want to appeal the decision there’s information available on Council Tax appeals.

Council Tax and business rates scams

It is always free to challenge your Council Tax band or find and check your business rates with the VOA. However, you may choose to appoint an agent to carry out this work on your behalf.

If you choose to appoint an agent, you should be aware that there are a number of fraudulent Council Tax and business rates agents operating around the country.

Running a home-based business

When using your home for minor business purposes, such as using a room as a personal office, you would not normally be expected to pay business rates, but guidelines on more specific circumstances are available.

Paying Council Tax

Your local authority (council) sets rates and collects Council Tax payments. You can find out the Council Tax rates set by your local authority.

It’s possible to pay your Council Tax online.

Published 22 January 2016
Last updated 17 March 2022 + show all updates
  1. The contents on this page were updated in all sections.

  2. Added translation

  3. Added Welsh translation.

  4. Consolidation of information of two pages ('Banding of houses in multi occupation (HMOs)' and 'Council Tax bands and annexes')

  5. First published.