Woman devastated as council tax band challenge leaves 21 neighbours paying higher bills

Martin Lewis speaks on council tax updates

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After moving into a new home in late 2019, the woman believed her property was incorrectly placed in band E. Instead, she thought it should have been in band D according to size and property sales data she had acquired.

Unfortunately, now 21 of her neighbours have also been placed in band E and all of them will be missing out on the £150 council tax rebate in April during one of the worst cost of living crisis in recent memories.

In early February, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £150 council tax rebate to be received in April for households in council tax bands A to D.

Since the announcement, the Valuation Office Agency has been bombarded with claims from people trying to appeal their council tax band. 

A woman in Faringdon, Oxfordshire has been through this process with disastrous consequences that she claims showcases “a biassed and very unfair system”.

Recalling first appealing her council tax band, she told Express.co.uk that she provided evidence of 21 homes located just 200 metres away that were “virtually identical” to her own home – all of which were in band D.

She supplied five sets of measurements of these houses, with one having been from a registered member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

These all resulted in measurements of 111 square metres while the originally recorded size by the VOA stated 107 square metres. 

The woman’s own home had a constant undisputed measurement of 113 square metres. 

However, during her appeal, a different set of measurements were taken by the VOA which calculated the 21 homes to be 123 square metres, now classing them all as band E properties.

The challenge was turned down, which led the woman to taking the next steps and going to the valuation tribunal.

Shortly before her second hearing, one of the other homeowners got a surveyor to measure their own property, which matched the measurements the woman had provided, however she said this new evidence “was allowed but subsequently ignored”.

The entire experience has taken a massive toll on her, as she noted: “My work and home life has suffered. I am fed up. I have a tight chest. I go to bed thinking of the injustice and I wake up thinking of it. I feel helpless. I feel hopeless. I feel alone.”

Additionally, some of the neighbours are now disputing their council tax band increase and have been provided with four examples of similar homes to theirs justifying their classification in band E.

The last of these examples is the original woman’s home. 

Now, her last available recourse is going to High Court.

She concluded: “I really hope we can do something to get justice for so many of the residents of Faringdon.

“The whole system is completely rigged and it’s the only system that people like me can go to.”

A VOA spokesperson said:  “All taxpayers are treated equally in accordance with the law.

“We carefully consider various factors including a property’s size, character and location when determining the appropriate council tax band. Each valuation depends on the facts of the individual case and we explain the reasons behind our decision to the customer.

“All the information about how council tax banding works and how to challenge your band can be found online at Check your Council Tax band.”

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