I saved my neighbours thousands of pounds by getting our council tax band changed
ENTREPRENEUR and mum-of-one Dee Featherstone saved her neighbours thousands of pounds after winning an appeal against her council tax band.
Children's toymaker Dee, 33, moved with husband Chris, 32, to a Peterborough new-build in September 2015.
But she was taken aback when they were told their property was in pricey council tax band C.
That meant a hefty annual charge of £1,304 including a £150 yearly social care payment.
'I remember thinking something wasn't right'
Dee told The Sun: "When our first council tax bill came through, I saw we were put in band C.
"I remember thinking something wasn't right."
She did some Googling and realised neighbouring local properties at a similar price range were in band B – and paying an average £163 less on their council tax each year.
After using the council's online message form to appeal the valuation, Dee waited and waited for an answer.
She said: "It wasn't a straightforward process.
"I had to ring around several numbers to have gotten the online form.
"I then got no direct contact and it took a while before I heard anything back."
Peterborough City Council places properties valued between £40,000 and £52,000 at 1991 prices in band B, while those worth £52k to £68k in 1991 market value are in band C.
After consulting the Valuation Office Agency, the council told Dee her rate would be lowered and her property reassessed to band B.
Dee said: "I was over the moon.
"I wasn't sure it would be accepted, so it was a great feeling when it was.
Better still, Dee's bill was backdated to the previous year, so she also saved £86 on council tax payments charged in her first few months in the property.
'Just go for it if you feel it is not correct'
Since winning the appeal, Dee and her family have saved an estimated £800 on their council tax bill.
And the savings didn't stop there.
Dee's new neighbours saw their band changed, too – and dozens more new-builds on the street were placed in the cheaper tax rate.
She said: "We had just moved in so I didn't know them at the time.
"I do remember my next-door neighbour mentioning it in conversation.
"We do get on really well now – though I'm not sure it's over that!"
Dee never realised her new neighbours would be affected by the appeal and was pretty chuffed when she realised they'd all benefitted too.
The businesswoman advised others dubious about their council tax band to launch an appeal.
Dee said: "Just go for it if you feel it is not correct.
"But do your research first."
But proceed with caution
Dee and her neighbours were lucky the appeal went their way – because a failed attempt might have led to their council tax band being revised UPWARDS.
Dee had no idea this was possible.
Neither did a Hull homeowner who appealed their tax band in 2015 and saw it rise – alongside their neighbours', who had to fork out a combined thousands of pounds.
It's probably a good thing their identity was kept secret.
Homeowner unsure about their rate should proceed with caution, because it could go either way.
A spokesperson for the Valuation Office Agency said: “We carefully consider lots of factors including a property’s size, character and location when determining the appropriate council tax band.
"You can challenge your band if you think it’s wrong, but you must provide specific evidence to support your case.
"More information on challenging your band can be found at https://www.gov.uk/challenge-council-tax-band.”
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