Be thankful for a lower banding

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The Independent Online
A COUPLE from Wells in Somerset are in a dilemma. They think their house has been placed in too low a band for the council tax.

Their property has been classified as Band D; they were expecting Band F. The couple will be about pounds 300 a year better off, but they intend to sell their property in about six months and are concerned that the banding might encourage a prospective purchaser to try to knock down the price.

Despite the couple's fears, Benjamin Tobin of Strattons, the chartered surveyors, thinks they would not gain from trying to get the property reclassified: 'The bandings were assessed in 1991. You are now looking at quite a different set of market conditions. They are just not that relevant.'

Trevor Kent, former chairman of the National Association of Estate Agents, agrees: 'A lot of estate agents are not bothering to put the banding on their particulars. We used to find that no one bothered with rateable values, which were supposedly more accurate, either.'

Moreover, it is impossible simply to go to your local council and plead to pay more. The entire appeal procedure, a tortuous process to say the least, must be followed.

Mr Kent explains: 'The difficulty in these sorts of cases is that people often have an over-inflated opinion of the value of their property.

'They would have to prove that the property was actually worth more and provide comparable evidence. The district valuer will work hard to prove he is right, even if he has assessed the property in a lower banding.'

The consensus is that a lower banding should not disadvantage anyone when trying to sell. In fact, a purchaser will probably be delighted to pay less tax.