In the rush to band homes when the tax was launched in 1991, many properties were categorised by council staff driving along residential streets guessing what each home was worth. That led to huge errors, with many homes put in the wrong band.
Now, the Valuation Office Agency’s website means you can easily check your banding. If it’s wrong, you can both cut the cost of your current bill and receive back-dated refunds.
How to challenge your home’s banding and get a refund
The place to go is the Valuation Office Agency's (VOA) website: voa.gov.uk. Enter your postcode and compare your banding with similar houses nearby. There are eight valuation levels, from Band A (the lowest) to Band H.
If you find your property’s rate is higher than that of similar neighbouring properties, you may have a case. You’ll need to contact the VOA by phone on 0845 602 1507 to state your findings.
But watch out for rogue cold-callers who are currently contacting homeowners and offering to carry out the checks on their behalf. This is not illegal, but it is unnecessary because they will take a cut if they are successful and you can do it yourself, easily and for free.
If your banding looks correct, there are other ways to secure discounts. Council tax bills assume two adults occupy the property as their main home, so single people can receive a discount of 25 per cent.
Furnished holiday homes will also receive a discount, mostly at 10 per cent but it’s as high as 50 per cent for some. Those on benefits or with some disabilities may also eligible for discounts.