Business rates completion notices

What is a completion notice?

The primary legislation is contained in s46A of Local Government Act 1988 and Schedule 4A of Local Government Finance Act 1988 and states that where it is considered that a commercial premises is structurally complete, or that the works remaining can reasonably be expected to be completed within three months, a completion notice will be served on the 'owner' of the commercial premises.

A completion notice will be issued for each commercial premises to the 'owner'. The 'owner' is defined as 'the person entitled to possession'.

The completion notice is a document that specifies the 'completion date' - this is the date on which a commercial premises becomes rateable and enters the rating list for business rates purposes.

What if a property is complete but unoccupied?

If the premises are unoccupied and empty from this 'completion date', then the premises will be eligible for a three month exemption, whilst it remains so.  If it is an industrial premises, then up to six month exemption can apply.

What criteria does Brighton & Hove City Council use to decide a completion date?

Completion notices are documents issued on commercial properties which are newly built or approaching structural completion.  The council’s revenues inspectors routinely visit to premises to establish how close to completion the premises are. Information will also be sought from the developers of the premises and the owners.

The criteria for determining completion for business rates purposes are substantially different to those for determining completion for Building Control therefore whether building control certificates have been issued or not is not directly relevant.

It is important to remember that a completion notice may be served up to three months in advance of the day on which the council specifies that a property is complete.  This means that sometimes, on the date that the notice is sent, the property may still not be complete.  The important date to focus on is the date that the council is specifying as the date of completion in the completion notice.

What if I disagree with the completion notice?

The regulations specify that if you disagree with a completion notice you should appeal within 28 days of the date of service of the notice to the Valuation Tribunal who are an independent body who make rulings on such matters.

Contact:  Valuation Tribunal Services2nd Floor Black Lion House, 45 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1DU.                             

However, you can write to the council if you wish in the first instance, setting out the reasons why you disagree with the date of completion.

Once the council has received your letter, we may ask for further information or we will advise you of our decision as soon as possible to allow you sufficient time to appeal further if you wish. A revised completion notice will be issued if necessary.

If you have any questions regarding a completion notice you've received, please contact Brighton & Hove City Council's business rates team:

Common questions about business rates completion notices

Q. Can a completion notice be backdated?
A. No. A notice and completion date can only be with immediate effect or up to three months in advance of the premises becoming structurally complete.

Q. How will the completion notice paperwork be issued?
A. By post to the home address or registered address of the 'owner'.

Q. What happens if the property is up for sale and unoccupied on the date that the commercial premises enters the Valuation list?
A. The property will be eligible for up to three months of exemption from business rates, or up to six months on industrial premises where a property is unoccupied and unfurnished. Once the three or six months have elapsed, if the property remains unoccupied, a full charge of business rates will be payable.

Q. What happens if I cannot complete the building work by the completion date due to financial or personal reasons?
A. Legislation does not allow us to take financial or personal factors into consideration for the purposes of setting a completion date. The property need not be structurally complete by the completion date, only capable of completion.

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