For the majority of businesses Rates are likely to be the second highest property overhead (after rent/loan repayments).
Since the change in the non domestic Rating system in 1990 the Rateable Value of every commercial and industrial property in England and Wales is to be reviewed on a 5 yearly basis with the next List due to be published in April 2015. A property’s Rateable Value is the District Valuer’s opinion of the property’s rental value as at the date of the assessment. In order to allow for the calculation and preparation of the List the assessment date is some time before the new List is published and for the 2015 Rating List the valuation date is 1 April 2013.
The current list came into force in April 2010 and is based on a 2008 valuation date which presents a potential problem as the assessment date predates the recession proper and it is therefore possible that many commercial Rating Assessments on the current List are much higher than the current rental value of that property. Although the Uniform Business Rate has reduced from the previous year (the multiplier applied to the Rateable Value to arrive at the Rates payable) the reduction appears to have been less than the increase in many Rateable Values and as a result Rates payable on many commercial properties increased from April 2010. Although transitional arrangements will soften the blow any increasing cost to a business in the current constrained economic conditions is likely to be unwelcome.
Luckily an appeals process does exist and therefore if you consider that the Rateable Value is to high or incorrectly calculated this can be appealed and a reduction in Rateable Value will result in a reduction in Rates payable.
However appealing the new assessment can be risky and as a reduction is not guaranteed the District Valuer can elect to increase the assessment on review.
Bramleys can provide advice to business occupiers to enable them to consider whether an appeal in respect of the Rateable Value is warranted and if so can follow the appeals process through its course.
Beware of cold call companies offering services for Rating appeal without any knowledge of your assessment or property as their fees may be wasted with no realistic prospect of an appeal and indeed the Rating Assessment may be increased resulting in higher bills. Accordingly it is vital to seek appropriate and professional advice before lodging any appeal.