Landmark Supreme Court Ruling on Business Rates

Published on: 1st March 2017

On March 1st a landmark ruling by the UK Supreme Court resolved whether owners of commercial properties will need to pay business rates during renovation or development work.

Our rating team first started work on the S J & J Monk v Newbigin case in 2013, when the Valuation Office Agency stated they would base the rateable value of an office, during renovation and subdivision, on its pre-scheme rateable value.

The decision meant that the owners, S J & J Monk, still had to pay business rates on the 15,000 sq ft Sunderland office space, with a rateable value of £102,000, despite it having being stripped to a shell and unable to be occupied during the renovation.

The case was taken to Valuation Tribunal by Rating Partner, Richard Farr, who appealed the decision on the basis that until then, properties undergoing major work had been given a nominal rateable value of £1. Farr later won the appeal at Lands Chamber, but the decision was subsequently overturned at High Court.

However, the ruling by the Supreme Court concluded that the property should be given a nominal £1 rateable value, on the grounds that it is undergoing significant refurbishment which restricts it from being a functional office space.

Richard Farr commented, "I am delighted by the eventual ruling at the Supreme Court, four years after I first started this case. Thedecision is welcome news for ratepayers, who will not be required to pay business rates on properties that are undergoing construction.

"This is of course also good news for the industry, with the threat of unnecessary rates bills no longer creating barriers for developers and investors."

The nominal assessment will not be automatic, and affected ratepayers will need to seek advice from a professionally qualified rating surveyor.

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Business rates revaluation – don’t leave it too late

From April 2017, the business rates revaluation will result in thousands of business seeing a change in the rateable values of their properties, and the leisure sector will be significantly affected. Tim Dyson, business rates expert, discusses the changes and how they could impact owners of leisure properties in the North East.  Unlike many property sectors in the North East, leisure has performed reasonably well in recent years, and this may be a key factor in the calculation of rateable values. As these are based on values from two years ago, much could have changed in prior years or since then, and itis therefore essential that these are as accurate as possible – this may mean amending the facts or dismissing estimates.

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From April 2017, the business rates revaluation will result in thousands of business seeing a change in the rateable values of their properties, and the leisure sector will be significantly affected. Tim Dyson, business rates expert, discusses the changes and how they could impact owners of leisure properties in the North East. 

Unlike many property sectors in the North East, leisure has performed reasonably well in recent years, and this may be a key factor in the calculation of rateable values. As these are based on values from two years ago, much could have changed in prior years or since then, and itis therefore essential that these are as accurate as possible – this may mean amending the facts or dismissing estimates.

[fulltext] =>

Pubs and licensed premises are subject to specific criteria, including the type of premises, location and the services offered, to establish fair maintainable trade, with the rateable value calculated according to rents paid for similar pubis, although for data protection purposes this information is not public. All of this understandably means that values can vary greatly between establishments.

For businesses that feel their prospective rateable values are too high, there is an option to contest the figure, but this is effectively a one-shot opportunity. If values were based on a particularly profitable year and are not a true reflection, the Valuation Office has launched the Check, Challenge, Appeal function to resolve this.

However, this process places a strong emphasis on appeals being well founded and supported by evidence, making them more forensic from the outset. While it may be tempting to conduct this research yourself, the scarcity of information, length of the process and stringency applied will mean all but the most convincing, well-rounded cases are dismissed.

If businesses cannot provide evidence of fair, maintainable trade by a competent operator – excluding external factors and promotions – the Valuation Office is unlikely to concede a reduction. Expert advice and approaches must be taken, or an unavoidable rates increase may be enacted.

To help businesses facing significant rate rises after the seven-year gap between revaluations, a transitional process is in place to stagger the increases and cap any yearly hikes. However, this cap has risen considerably from previous revaluations in the first couple of years. A reduced current RV may have a knock-on effect on saving.

With businesses having until March 31 to appeal, time is of the essence, and with thousands of pubs, clubs and restaurants set to be affected, the DIY approach may not be best if a sting in the tail is to be avoided.

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Concern grows for business rates reform

From 1 April new rateable values for commercial properties will come into effect, along with reform to the business rates appeal process. It’s the first revaluation in seven years, and the impact it will have on businesses is causing increasing concern.  What are business rates? Business rates are a tax paid by a business owner on any commercial property they own or rent. They are calculated based on the rental value of the property.

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From 1 April new rateable values for commercial properties will come into effect, along with reform to the business rates appeal process. It’s the first revaluation in seven years, and the impact it will have on businesses is causing increasing concern. 

What are business rates?

Business rates are a tax paid by a business owner on any commercial property they own or rent. They are calculated based on the rental value of the property.

[fulltext] =>

Many business owners will appeal their business rates based on inaccuracies in their rateable value. Since the last revaluation in 2010, over a million ratepayers have appealed their business rates. 

How is the appeal process changing?

As part of the business rates reform, plans to introduce a ‘margin of error’ have been announced, which are due to go before parliament by April.

The proposed reform will stop ratepayers from appealing their business rates if the rateable value falls within a ‘reasonable margin of error’. The plans have caused widespread concern for business owners who could be left substantially overpaying rates.  

Which businesses will suffer the most?

With business rates in London expected to soar, the reality of the revaluation is becoming increasingly worrying for small and independently owned London-based businesses. Significant increases in their rates bills, along with a more difficult appeal process could potentially force them out of business.

Please get in touch for further advice on the business rates revaluation and changes to the appeal process.

Contact Us

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Video Guide to the 2017 Business Rates Revaluation

We have launched a seven video guide to the April 2017 Business Rates Revaluation. With the April 2017 business rates revaluation approaching, we have created a video series to help you understand what will be happening over the coming months, how the revaluation could affect your business and what you can do to plan for it.  

Read More....

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We have launched a seven video guide to the April 2017 Business Rates Revaluation.

With the April 2017 business rates revaluation approaching, we have created a video series to help you understand what will be happening over the coming months, how the revaluation could affect your business and what you can do to plan for it.

 

[fulltext] =>

 

We have launched a seven video guide to the April 2017 Business Rates Revaluation.

 Our short videos look at the following questions:

 

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