Policy on home inspections and photography
When property is valued, an inspection is a normal and necessary part of the process. This is exactly what you would expect to happen if you were applying for a mortgage or borrowing against the equity in your property and it is no different for council tax. Your council tax band is based upon the value of your property and it is in everyones best interests to ensure that it is correct.
However, it is often not necessary for us to inspect a property, for example where there are streets of similar properties, we would not need to inspect them all. Even where changes have been made to properties, the vast majority of our inspections can be completed from outside. We will only ask to come inside your property if we cannot gather the information we need from an external inspection.
On the few occasions when an internal inspection is necessary, we make every effort to arrange a convenient appointment with you. Staff always carry and present identity cards that incorporate a photograph. However, if you ever have any doubts you should never allow access to your property and we urge you to call your local Valuation Office to check the identity of the representative if you have any concerns. The number is listed in your local telephone directory and in the Contact the VOA section.
Contrary to some misinformed press reports, we do not have the power to enter a property forcibly. If entry is refused we will normally make our best judgement about the correct band for the property obviously this is not as reliable as a judgement formed on the basis of an inspection. However, the law does recognise that sometimes we require access in order to do our job. Magistrates can impose a fine of up to 500 for intentionally obstructing a VOA inspector, but this has not, to date, been necessary.
Photographs can also help us to do our work more efficiently - we sometimes take a picture of the outside of a property as it saves a lot of time and words that would otherwise be needed to describe the main features and other aspects that might affect value. These are generally taken from the road and therefore reflect what any other passer by could see. It would be extremely rare that photographs are taken inside a persons home. If we need to take photographs inside, we would seek the permission of the occupier first. We take care to exclude features that are not relevant to the value of the property, for example, personal items, furniture, and details of the security system. The internal photographs we hold are normally deleted from our computer system when they have served their purpose. It is also important that you are aware that photographs held by the VOA are not accessible to any other parties.
If you have any queries, please contact your local Valuation Office. Details can be found in the Contact the VOA section.