Completion notices

A completion notice is a legal document issued by local authorities in accordance with Schedule 4A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. The notice confirms the date on which a newly built property or a recently refurbished property will be entered into the Valuation list.

Where a commercial property is structurally complete, or where the work remaining can reasonably be expected to be completed within three months, a completion notice will be served by the local authority on the property owner. This, specifies the day that the local authority considers the property becomes rateable and enters the valuation  list for business rates purposes.

Business rates legislation defines the property owner as the person entitled to possession. 

The Non-Domestic Rating Bill 2023 now allows the local authority to also serve completion notices on refurbished properties that have been removed from the rating list whilst the refurbishment takes place.

Why is it important the council serves a completion notice?

Business rates collection generates revenue for Salford City Council which helps towards delivering vital services to local businesses and communities. To generate this revenue the council has a duty to ensure that the local rating list is accurate which includes bringing new or refurbished commercial premises into the rating list.

How will the completion notice be served?

The completion notice will be issued to the owner of the building. The owner is defined by Business Rates regulations as ‘the person entitled to possession’, which is normally the leaseholder or owner of the property. It may be served: 

  • By post, either registered or recorded delivery, to the owner at the usual or last known address; or to an address supplied by the owner where mail should be sent.
  • In the case of an incorporated company or body, by delivering it or sending it by registered post or recorded delivery to the secretary/clerk at its registered office or main office.
  • Where the name or address of the owner cannot be found after reasonable inquiry, the letter can be addressed to ‘the owner’ and fixed to a conspicuous part of that building.

What criteria is used for deciding a completion date?

Our revenue inspectors will routinely visit premises to establish how close to completion the premises are. Information will also be sought from other sources including the developers of the premises and the owners. During site visits the inspector will take photographs to document the development’s progress and where possible communicate with the owners to discuss a completion date.

A property will be considered as being substantially complete when it meets certain criteria. This includes the completion of basic structure such as external walls, external doors, windows, staircases, joists, studwork and partitioning. At this point, the council will determine whether the building can be completed within three months. If the works can be completed within three months, the council will issue a date by which the property can reasonably be completed for ratings purposes. This date will vary depending on the extent of the customary works remaining to bring the property to completion.

It is important to note that the criteria for determining the completion of a property for Business Rates purposes is different to that for determining completion for building control regulations. The fact that a building control certificate has not been issued yet is not a requirement for Business Rates purposes.

What happens after the completion notice is served?

If you agree with the completion date proposed by the council, you do not need to do anything. The date stated on the completion notice will be the completion date reported by the council to the Valuation Office Agency who are responsible for setting the property’s rateable value. The council will supply the Valuation Officer with: 

  • Copies of all completion notices served.
  • Information relevant to the completion notice if it is withdrawn.
  • Details of all agreements as to completion dates.

Who are the Valuation Office Agency (VOA)?

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is an executive agency of HM Revenue and Customs and is therefore a separate organisation to the council.

The VOA provides valuations and property advice to support taxation and benefits to the government and local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland. It also provides valuation and surveying services to public sector bodies. 

The VOA’s work covers these core areas:

  • compiling and maintaining lists of Council Tax bands for 26.8 million domestic properties
  • compiling and maintaining lists detailing the rateable value of 2.1 million commercial properties for business rates
  • advising ministers on valuation, property matters and benefits
  • providing independent and impartial valuation and professional property advice across the public sector

Get more information about VOA on GOV.UK

What if I disagree with the completion notice or completion date?

We encourage you to contact us as soon as possible explaining why you disagree with the completion notice. This is because we may be able to negotiate a new completion date and issue a new completion notice.

The owner has a formal right of appeal to the Valuation Tribunal for England (VTE) which must be made within 28 days of the completion notice being served.

What if the property is complete but not occupied?

If the property is unoccupied and empty from this completion date, the property may be eligible for a three-month exemption, while it remains so. If it's an industrial premise, then a six-month exemption will apply. The three or six months exemption starts from the completion date. If there is a change of owner during or after the exemption period, then the exemption period does not re-commence.

What if the property is now occupied?

If you have already received a completion notice for the property, please ensure that the details of the occupants are provided to the council as soon as possible. You can easily update us with their details by completing the online register for business rates form.

If the newly built property, is occupied, you do not require a completion notice. The date used to enter the building into the rating list will be the date of occupation. The occupier will then be liable to pay the business rates.

What to do if you have a property nearing completion?

If you have a property that is nearing completion and would like to discuss it further with a business rates inspector, please contact us on 0161 793 2500 and select option 1 followed by option 3 to speak directly to a Business Rates officer between 8.30am and 4.30pm.

My property is complete, but I’m yet to receive a completion notice or bill

If you are yet to receive a completion notice for a newly built property, that is now complete, you do not require a completion notice. The date used to enter the building into the rating list will be the date of completion or occupation. You can easily inform us by completing the online register for business rates form.

The owner or occupier will then be liable to pay the business rates. It is the responsibility of the business to inform the council of completion of a commercial property.

I have received a completion notice but have not yet received a bill

To enable us to issue a business rates bill the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) must provide us with a Rateable Value (RV) for the property. As soon as the VOA provide us with your RV a bill will be issued.

Due to financial constraints or supply chain issues, I am unable to complete the property by the date specified on the completion notice

The criteria set is based on the state of the property alone and no allowance is given for small or large projects or any financial constraints which may be experienced. However, where evidence has been provided we try to be reasonable when considering the date the property can be completed by.

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