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Business rates shake-up a ‘potential mess’ warns leading property firm

Colliers says proposed changes to way rates are assessed will make appeals more difficult and expensive.

Nigel Lewis

A leading property firm has criticised the Government’s plans to shake up the business rates system as a potential ‘mess’ by making it more onerous and expensive for businesses to appeal their rates.

Property giant Colliers disagrees with Ministers who have claimed that more frequent revaluations will provide more accurate valuations and greater transparency.

The property consultancy believes that a duty to notify officials about changes to the occupier and property characteristics will be a burden on ratepayers as it would involve an annual return, increasing the paperwork and administration burden.

The mandatory provision of lease information required by the Valuation Office Agency – an annual return to include side letters and arrangements agreed with landlords – is already accessible through land registry and other sources, says Colliers, especially as there may also be multiple rental returns required for each ratepayer.

Little time

Meanwhile, reducing appeal timescales to a three-month window leaves little time to review valuations and submit challenges upon receipt of the draft list values.

Colliers adds that while a three-year cycle is a positive move compared to the current situation where rateable values are still based on rents in 2015, the two-year gap between the previous valuation date when values are assessed and when the list becomes live should be shortened to 12 months to give a truer reflection of the market

john webber business rates colliersJohn Webber (pictured), head of business rates at Colliers, says the government introduced the current Check Challenge Appeal system without proper consultation with the industry and without prior testing. “This has all the hallmarks of a similar mess,” he adds.

“This new system would increase the bar to appeal against unfair rating assessments and thus reduce the number of appeals. The VOA will have no need to inspect properties or maintain the list.”

Agents have until 24th August to submit their views to the consultation.

Read more about business rates.

August 17, 2021

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