The 2017 revaluation will be based upon the rental levels at 1st April 2015 and, will form the basis of the business rates liability for the next 5 years.
In addition to issuing new rateable values, the 2017 rating revaluation will see a reform of the business rate appeal system, which will introduce a 3 stage process and, places for more onus on the rate payer or their agent, to provide more detailed information about their property at the outset.
The 3 stages are:
The rate payer confirms the floor areas, rent and specification of the property. The Valuation Officer will review these facts and, if appropriate, will amend the rateable value. There will be a penalty of £500 if the rate payer provides false information. If the rate payer still disagrees with the rateable value, there will be a statutory right to proceed to the “challenge” stage, after 12 months. It is believed that the rate payer can move to the second stage, if no notification is made by the Valuation Office, within 12 months of the return of information.
Following the conclusion of the “check” stage, the rate payer has 4 months to formally challenge the Valuation Officer’s rateable value. The rate payer must provide full supporting information, comparable evidence and detailed reasons why the rateable value is wrong and, in doing so, must make a statement setting out the particulars of the grounds of the proposal, evidence to support the grounds of the proposal, how the evidence supports those grounds and details of the proposed alterations to the rating list.
This stage could take up to 18 months and the proposal stage will end with the Valuation Officer serving a ‘Notice of Decision’, which will tell the proposer whether the Valuation Officer accepts the alteration that they proposed, or intends to make some other alteration, or does not intend to make an alteration to the rating list.
The ‘Notice of Decision’ must include the reasons for the decision, including a Statement of Evidence used to make the decision and, a statement in relation to each of the grounds of the proposal, setting out why the Valuation Officer has reached that decision.
The proposer may make an Appeal to the Valuation Tribunal for England (VTE) against the ‘Decision Notice’, within 4 months of the ‘Decision Notice’ or may appeal to the VTE if no ‘Decision Notice’ has been issued within 18 months of the date of the proposal. No further negotiations can take place and, only in exceptional circumstances, can new evidence be introduced.
An Appeal will involve an appeal fee of £300, although there is a proposal that these appeal fees will be reduced to £200 if it is agreed that the Appeal can be dealt with by written representations without a hearing. The appeal fee will be refunded in all cases where the VTE issues an order to alter the rating list.
As things currently stand, legislation is in place that will allow the VOA to reject an appeal if, in their opinion, the amended RV is within 10% of the original figure since it is within the “bounds of reasonable judgement”.
Throughout the trade press, various comments have been made that, taken together all these changes are likely to leave the rate payer with the view that they are not being treated fairly by the Appeal’s system and, that the changes to the system are designed more to protect the yield from business rates than to provide a simple and fair means of determining disputes about rating assessments.
In September 2016, it was reported that there was some 300,000 outstanding appeals that the Valuation Office Agency was still processing from the 2010 list and, therefore, in April 2017 when the new rating list goes live and appeals can be lodged using the ‘check, challenge, appeal’ system, will only add to the backlog.
At the current rate of appeal resolution, it will take a further 3 years to clear the existing backlog, before the VO is in a position to deal with any appeals lodged against the 2017 revaluation.