The 1st April 2017 saw a new business rates appeal process come into effect. This new process only applies in England and for new appeals lodged. If you already have an appeal lodged in the 2010 (or even 2005!) rating list these will be dealt with under the old process.
From the 1st April 2017 the Valuation office will deal with the Check and Challenge aspects while the Valuation Tribunal will only deal with the appeal itself.
The RV’s for properties on the 2017 rating list are based on data from 2015, you can check your properties RV on the Valuation Office Website here, you will need your property postcode or a property reference number from your rates bill if you use the ‘advanced search’ option.
You can either carry out the process yourself or instruct a rating surveyor / agent to carry this out for you, before instructing a company please read our advice on instructing surveyors, agents and auditors.
Before lodging any checks, challenges and appeals with the VOA or Valuation Tribunal it is important to note that suggesting any changes can result in the following ;
- The RV remaining the same
- The RV decreasing
- The RV increasing
It is also important to note that you must continue to pay your business rates while you are checking, challenging or appealing your business rates.
After finding your valuation on the VOA website you may notice that factual details about your property or land are inaccurate. It is therefore down to the ratepayer / owner / authorised agent to inform the VOA. This is known as a Check.
Checks must also be submitted if you want to do any of the following :
- Change an effective date of an RV
- Change the main use
- Change the address
- Challenge the RV
- Inform the VOA of anything affecting the land or property that is outside of your control (e.g road works)
A check can be submitted using the VOA’s online service.
If you need your check dealing with urgently due to external factors affecting your property or you are in financial hardship then after submitting your check via the online service you should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03000 501 501 with the subject line for external factors as : ‘Urgent: external Material Change of Circumstances’ and ensure you ask for your request to be prioritised noting the the property address and your submission ID or reference number within the email.
For the check to be processed fully and avoid any delays you must submit as much evidence as possible. You can include photographs, rent agreements, plans and a statement with additional information or comments that you have not been able to include on the form as supporting documents. Ensure any supporting evidence you submit is correct as if it is not it can lead to backdated increases in your valuation.
After your check has been submitted the VOA will review the information that has been provided and will hopefully have enough information to review your check, in some cases they may get in touch and if they do, they will contact the person who submitted the check.
If the VOA decide to amend the rating list then you will be sent written notification of the alteration.
You may feel your RV is too high, regardless of any factual changes or not. You will still need to complete a check, as a challenge can not be carried out until a check has been carried out.
Once your check has been completed you can challenge the valuation of the same property within 4 months of the decision date, or 16 months of the check submission date if your challenge relates to a change in the surrounding area.
The VOA suggests that before submitting a challenge you should review your valuation and compare it to others in the area that are comparable in size, age and character to see if your valuation is fair. You will also need to take into account any positive and negative differences between your property and the one(s) you are comparing to. You can compare properties on the VOA website.
A challenge can also be submitted if the VOA has not made a decision on your check within 12 months of your submission.
You may have grounds for a challenge if :
- The valuation was wrong at the start of the rating list
- A change in the surrounding area or the property should be reflected in the RV
- A change made by the VOA to the property is wrong
- The property should be split into more than one property, or merged with another
- A property should be removed from the rating list
- A property should be added to a rating list
- The property valuation is incorrect due to a legal decision on another property
- The details about the property are wrong or incomplete
You can not submit a challenge more than once about the same issue for the same property and agents can not submit a challenge or view detailed property data until they have been given authorisation by the owner or occupier.
It is important that when submitting your challenge you ensure you include the following :
- Name / Address / Contact details of the person submitting
- Specific reasons for making the challenge
- The RV you propose should be applied
- The date you feel this new RV should be applied from
- Supporting evidence (valuations of similar local properties, Legal decisions, any other documents such as photographs of the land or property and the surrounding local environment).
- A supporting statement ( this must clearly state why you are making the challenge and that this reason falls under one of the grounds noted above. You should also explain how the evidence supports your challenge and how you have come to the proposed RV).
- Which properties are affected
- Rent details (this is not required if you are requesting the property be removed from the rating list)
All Evidence must be submitted together, as you can not submit further evidence at a later date unless there is an exceptional circumstance such as the evidence you now wish to submit only became available after or part way through a challenge)
After you have submitted your challenge the VOA will review the evidence and they may come back to you in order to discuss it.
The VOA may require more information and this request should be responded to within 20 days.
If the VOA agree with your challenge they will amend the rating list and send you written notification of this.
If the VOA partly agree then they will send you an agreement form to complete and then amend the rating list after this form has been returned.
If, after your challenge you and VOA can not come to an agreement or you disagree with the VOA’s decision then you can appeal.
After completing the check and challenge with the VOA you may not agree with the decision made.
In some circumstances you may have the right to appeal the decision and this will be done by an independent review with the Valuation Tribunal but any appeal must be taken to the Valuation Tribunal within 4 months of the challenge decision date.
The Valuation Tribunal deals with appeals against :
- The entry in the rating list e.g The RV or some other part of the entry.
- A completion notice that has been issued by the Billing Authority.
- Transitional Certificates issued by the VOA.
You can also appeal if the VOA have not responded to your challenge within 18 months of your submission.
For all appeals it is your responsibility to ensure that all information relevant to your case is submitted to the Valuation Tribunal and this includes any information you want them to consider.