People living in a neighbourhood in Caversham have been paying ‘thousands more than they should be’ in council tax over the years, it has been claimed.

Lyefield Court in Emmer Green is made up of 30 two and three-bedroom retirement apartments.

Initially, the retirement homes were put in council tax band C, at the lower end of the spectrum.

But a re-evaluation in 1995 bumped them up to band F, one of the top three bands, which has left residents paying thousands of pounds more in council tax for almost two decades since.

This year, band F residents pay £2,774.81, compared to £1,707.57 for Band C households. That means neighbours in the court have to pay £1,067.24 more.

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Malcolm Geater, 88, who lives in Lyefield Court with his wife, said: “It’s crazy, all the properties around us are all lower than us.

“There are homes that are newer and larger than ours which are in the lower as well. All these [in Lyefield Court] are flats. It’s outrageous.”

Council tax evaluations are conducted by the  Valuation Office Agency (VOA) of His Majesty’s Revenues and Customs.

Mr Geater explained that a merger of two properties was undertaken in the 1990s, creating a six-bedroom home. He suspects this work triggered the re-evaluation which neighbours in smaller properties have been stuck with.

An appeal was launched in 2007 but was dismissed.

Mr Geater said: “I appealed against the judgement and they asked questions which I could not answer at the time. They sent someone up to measure the property but that didn’t change their minds.”

Ultimately, the appeal launched in 2007 was unsuccessful.

Mr Geater added: “One other person appealed but they got turned down as well.”

He also said that the two properties that were merged in 1990s have since been divided again.

The issue was raised to the Local Democracy Reporting Service by councillor Simon Robinson (Conservative, Emmer Green). He said: “Any idiot could tell there’s an issue here.

“It’s unfair, it’s unjust and it has cost an awful lot of money for the residents. It’s time the council tax band was changed.”

Adding: “It is the valuation office that is responsible but they are proving a bureaucratic nightmare refusing to admit a mistake was made.

“This has not only cost the residents a great deal in paying much more than they should have done it has also severely impacted the ability to sell their properties with such a high council tax evaluation.”

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Cllr Robinson has called for the VOA to apologise, re-evaluate the tax band down and provide compensation to residents.

In response, a VOA spokesperson said: “We carefully consider various factors including a property’s size, character and location when determining the appropriate Council Tax band. Each valuation depends on the facts of the individual case, and we explain the reasons behind our decision to the customer.

“We assess properties to place them within a Council Tax band. As each band includes a range of values, a range of different properties can fall within the same band.

“All the information about how Council Tax banding works and how to challenge your band can be found online at”

Neighbours can challenge their tax band if they think it is incorrect. Challenges have three outcomes, resulting in the tax band going up, down or staying the same.