Decision details

Council Tax New Builds - COVID-19

Decision Maker: Portfolio Holder for Finance

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes


To set out the approach that SHDC will take with regard the issue of completion notices for new builds, in respect of Council Tax.


To approve the process for Council Tax Completion Notices on new build dwellings.


1.    From 1 July 2020, where a new build remains empty and unoccupied, a completion notice will be issued two months from when the new build reaches first fix stage.   The Council Tax Completion Notice will then allow for a maximum three month period for completion before banding for Council Tax purposes.  Overall this will increase the period when Council Tax will not be charged on new dwellings to a maximum of 6 months from first fix (unless the property is issued with a building completion notice, is sold, or becomes occupied).  This includes the one month, 100% discount for empty, unoccupied and unfurnished dwellings.


2.    For a further review of the process to be undertaken in 12 months.


3.    Where the circumstances or status of a new build changes through completion as deemed by the service of a Building Completion Notice, sale or occupation, then the Council Tax Completion Notice will be issued, where applicable, based on the changed circumstances. 


4.    For properties which reached first fix between 27 December 2019 to 23 March 2020 and were issued with a Council Tax completion notice, use the authority’s discretionary powers under Section 13A 1 C of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 to retrospectively discount in full the Council Tax charge for the period between 27 December 2019 and 30 June 2020.  The discount is only applicable for the period that the property remained empty and unoccupied.


Reasons for the decision:

The decision reflects the impact on individual builders and larger developers in terms of ability to complete new builds in pre-COVID timescales.

A delay in issuing the Council Tax Completion Notice by two months from first fix stage will increase the timescale before a Council Tax liability is incurred by two months, thereby providing additional time for completion.  This recognises the current uncertainties for the building sector during Covid, and the fact that getting final works (such as kitchens, bathrooms, electrical points etc.) completed might not be as efficient/certain, and that final completion may not, therefore, be achieved at the same pace as we might previously have reasonably expected.

Alternative options considered:

           Do nothing.  Maintain the standard pre-COVID process throughout.


           For properties which reach first fix from 1st July, resume pre-COVID standard process of issuing Council Tax Completion Notice at first fix stage and suspend the interim process. (Adjustments were made from 23 March 2020 to temporarily use the issue of a Building Completion Notice for Council Tax purposes rather than serving Council Tax Completion Notices at first fix stage.  This responded to the impact on development through lockdown).


           For properties which reach first fix from 1st July, maintain the Interim COVID-19 process for a longer period, where Council Tax completion notices are issued only after a Building Completion Notice is served; or where a developer or builder informs the authority of completion; or on sale of the dwelling.


           Do not use the council’s discretionary powers to discount the Council Tax for new dwellings for the period 27 December 2019 to 30 June 2020, where a Completion Notice was served between 27 December 2019 and 23 March 2020.

Interests and Nature of Interests Declared:


Wards Affected: (All Wards);

Conflict of Interest: N/A

Dispensation Granted: N/A

Contact: Sharon Hammond, Head of Revenues & Benefits Email:

Publication date: 24/07/2020

Date of decision: 24/07/2020

Effective from: 01/08/2020

Accompanying Documents: