Orkney & Shetland

Valuation Joint Board




Property based local taxation in Scotland is split into two separate parts - domestic property and non-domestic property. Domestic properties are subject to council tax whilst non-domestic properties are entered in the Valuation Roll with a rateable value and the occupiers are charged rates.

On 1st April 1993, the Council Tax replaced the community charge or 'poll tax' as the way people contribute to the cost of local services. This web page explains how properties are valued in Scotland, what this means for your council tax bill and how you can appeal against your valuation.

How is the council tax bill worked out?

The council tax bill for any dwelling will depend on the valuation band in which the dwelling is placed, the tax levels set by the local authorities for the area and the personal circumstances of the people normally living there. This web page explains matters relating to the valuation band in which the dwelling is placed.

What is a valuation band?

Each dwelling is placed on a valuation list in one of eight broad valuation bands ranging from A to H as set out in law. The list will show only the band to which your house has been allocated and a precise value will not be given. The responsibility for compiling the valuation list for your area lies with the assessor.

Valuation bands of all dwellings in Scotland may be viewed at the Scottish Assessors' Association website at www.saa.gov.uk


The bands for Scotland are:

Range of values (at 1st April 1991)


Up to £27,000


Over £27,000 and up to £35,000


Over £35,000 and up to £45,000


Over £45,000 and up to £58,000


Over £58,000 and up to £80,000


Over £80,000 and up to £106,000


Over £106,000 and up to £212,000


Over £212,000


Your council tax bill will vary between the different bands according to proportions laid down by law. The bill for a dwelling in band A will be two thirds of the size of one in band D and one third of the bill for a dwelling in band H.

What counts as a dwelling?

The meaning of the term "dwelling" is set out in law. In the first instance, it is for the assessor to decide whether or not a property is a dwelling, but in general any kind of house or flat will count as a dwelling if used as such. A property that is not a dwelling will be regarded as non-domestic and will be subject to non-domestic rates. Certain properties may however be regarded as part residential, so that the part used as a residence will constitute the dwelling. For example, if a property comprises a shop with a flat above, only the flat constitutes a dwelling. The shop would be subject separately to non-domestic rates.

Caravans generally count as dwellings if they are someone's main home. Certain properties occupied by more than one household, where the residents share facilities such as kitchens or bathrooms (for example, groups of bed- sits), will generally be counted as one dwelling.

How are dwellings banded?

The assessor decides which valuation band should apply to each dwelling in the area. Valuations are based on the amount which dwellings might have reasonably been expected to realise in the open market, subject to certain "valuation assumptions" if sold on 1st April 1991. This will be the same regardless of whether houses are owner-occupied or rented. The assumption of a fixed date allows values to be estimated relative to others in the area on a consistent basis and applies to properties built after the date as well as those in existence on it. In the case of properties completed after 1st April 1991, the assessor places them in bands by estimating what the market value would have been as at 1st April 1991. Any general movement of house prices since 1991 will not affect the banding of individual houses. It is important to remember that valuation for the council tax requires the allocation of dwellings to a band, not the estimation of specific values. The valuation lists will show the valuation band for each dwelling.

Where a property contains both commercial and domestic parts (for example, a shop with a flat above) only the domestic part will be taken into account in determining the valuation banding for council tax purposes. The commercial part will determine the rateable value on which non-domestic rates are levied.

What are the valuation assumptions?

In order to place all valuations on a common footing, a number of assumptions must be made. The assumptions are set out in law. The definition of value is the amount which dwellings might reasonably have been expected to realise if sold on the open market by a willing seller on 1st April 1991. The assumptions which apply to valuation include:

  • the sale was with vacant possession;
  • the dwelling was in a state of reasonable repair;
  • the size and layout of the dwelling and the physical state of the locality were the same as at the time when the valuation of the dwelling is made;
  • the dwelling was sold free from any heritable security (i.e. any mortgage is assumed to be paid off);
  • common parts (e.g. tenement stairs) were in a reasonable state of repair and the purchaser would be liable to contribute towards the cost of keeping them in such a state;
  • use of the dwelling would be permanently restricted to use as a private dwelling; and
  • the dwelling had no development value other than that attributable to permitted development (i.e. there should be no increase in value on account of the fact that planning permission might be granted for an extension or change of use).

For these reasons the banding of a house might not reflect its actual sale price in 1991 if, for example, it was actually sold to a sitting tenant (so not on the open market) or it was sold for a high price but conditional on planning permission being granted for an extension.

Special provisions for farm houses?

Farm houses, farm cottages, croft houses and houses connected with fish farms are all subject to special provisions. If they are occupied in connection with the farm, croft or fish farm then they will be valued on the basis that their availability is restricted to being used in that way. The intention of these provisions is to recognise that the market for such houses will be restricted. This will generally have the effect of lowering valuations for these dwellings and in particular circumstances such reduction may be sufficient to move a dwelling to a lower valuation band than that in which it would otherwise be placed.

Are there special arrangements for houses adapted for people with physical disabilities?

Any special fixtures designed to make your home suitable for a person with a physical disability and which add to its value, should have been disregarded when the assessor valued the property. This means that your home would have been valued as if the special fixtures were not there, so that your home is not placed in a higher band because of them.  If your home has special fixtures which reduce its value, this should have been taken into account in deciding which valuation band your home should be in. This means that where your home is of a lower value because of the fixtures, it may have been placed in a lower valuation band than it would otherwise have been. If you think this factor has not been taken into account, you should contact the assessor.  

There is a separate scheme of reductions for people with disabilities, the details of which are available from your local Council's Finance Departments.

What happens where house prices have risen or fallen since 1st April 1991?

Because the council tax banding has been based on property prices at 1st April 1991, any increase or fall in the value of a dwelling resulting from any general change in the housing market will not be taken into account.

 When is a new dwelling completed?

In most cases it is expected that there will be no dispute as to when a new dwelling is completed and entered in the valuation list. In some cases, however, it may be habitable without being actually finished, for example if a builder offers a house for sale with a choice of fittings which can be fitted in a day or two once the buyer chooses them. In such cases, it is open to the assessor to serve on the owner a notice proposing that the property shall be taken, for council tax purposes, to have been completed at the end of whatever would be a reasonable period for carrying out any work remaining to be done on the property. If the owner does not agree with the date proposed in the notice, an appeal can be made against it.

Can valuation bands change at all?

There are no current plans to revalue everyone's houses in the near future. However in certain circumstances individual dwellings may be rebanded after the publication of the valuation list on 1st April 1993.  

If your home increases in value because improvements have been carried out, for example, if an extension was added after 1st April 1993, the change will not affect the council tax valuation band until the property (or any part of it) is sold. Therefore such improvements cannot lead to an increased council tax burden for the present owner.  

If your home decreases in value because part of it is demolished, the physical state of the local area changes, or alterations have been carried out to make it suitable for use by a person with a physical disability, it may be rebanded with immediate effect.

If you start, or stop, using part of your property to carry out a business, or the balance between business and residential use changes, it may be necessary to alter both the council tax banding and the non-domestic rateable value.  

If there has been an error in the original valuation it can be corrected and the correct banding substituted in the list.

If there has been an appeal, and it is decided that the banding is wrong, a new band will be substituted.

 Where a rebanding is necessary, your home will still be valued at the figure it would have been expected to sell for on 1st April 1991, if the new physical circumstance had existed then. If the change in value is only slight, it may not be enough to move your home from one band to another.

Can I appeal?

If you disagree with the banding of your house you can make a proposal to have it changed.

If no agreement can be reached with the assessor, you can appeal and have your case considered by the valuation appeal committee which is an independent tribunal.

If the assessor has served you with a completion notice for a new dwelling and you disagree with the date from which the assessor proposes to regard the dwelling as being completed for council tax purposes, you can appeal to a valuation appeal committee.

The procedure and time limits for lodging appeals will be set out in any notice issued to you by the assessor.

How can I find out more?

This web page covers the main aspects of the valuation and banding of dwellings for the council tax system. It is intended to help you understand how you will be affected by the tax. It does not cover every detail and should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law.

If you need further information about the valuation banding of your dwelling, or your appeal rights, you should contact the assessor at the address shown on the Home Page.