The uniform business rates paid by all commercial users came into force on 1st April 1995, and the Government has already confirmed that the next revaluation will come into effect in the year 2000.
The rates businesses pay are based upon the rate in the pound, which is set nationally at present, and a notional rental value assessed by local Valuation Offices. Broadly speaking the notional value is arrived at by taking account of the market rental values of properties at a given date.
In the forthcoming review that date will be rental values as at 1st April
1998. The current rates figures have been based upon values as at 1st
April 1993 and in many areas and property sectors, there has been a marked
increase in rental values, even in the last twelve months.
Valuation Offices will begin collecting evidence of rental values shortly, by requiring businesses to complete a statutory form, giving details of lease arrangements, rental levels, rent free periods and many other
details. Based upon the information provided, they will then form an
opinion of the notional rental value of all business premises in the
country. All businesses will eventually be advised of the rating value
which will then be used to calculate the rates payable from 1st April 2000.
Businesses do have the opportunity to appeal against the rating value, but there are potential pitfalls. On appeal a value could be increased as well as reduced and due to transitional arrangements which have been used in the past, a successfully appealed lower figure could result in a higher amount of rates to pay, as a consequence of the transitional arrangements.
It costs a business nothing to appeal against a rating value, but the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors have again warned businesses of unqualified so called rating specialists who charge a fee up front to lodge an appeal and are never heard of again.
Granby Martin acted for many businesses, throughout the country, at the last revaluation on a 'no saving - no fee' basis, and successfully appealed many firms rating liability. Our advice in some instances was not to appeal, and in these cases, the firms paid us no fee.