An article exploring some of the options and potential issues of challenging non domestic business rates.
Scenario
Since 2019, my business has occupied offices on an out of town business park. I am increasingly troubled by the amount of the rates that we are paying. I cannot believe that our premises are that valuable. Having resolved some other issues in our business, I am interested in exploring how to protest the amount we pay perhaps by writing to the local authority; after all, they are the ones who are sending the bill. What do you suggest?
Answer
Business rates are calculated by multiplying the rateable value of premises by the relevant non-domestic rating multiplier. The rateable value of business premises is its open market rental value on (currently) 1 April 2015, based on an estimate by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The local authority is not responsible for the rateable value assessed for your premises.
Your liability for business rates may be reduced if your property qualifies for business rates relief. There are a number of different types of relief including:
Apart from reliefs, you can protest the rateable value of your premises by engaging with the valuation officer through the VOA portal. However it is important to take account of the following issues:
Under the draft regulations[3], the ratepayer is dependent on the time taken by the valuation officer to respond to the ratepayer’s initial request for a check of the valuation to comply with this time limit.
We are working with industry colleagues to propose changes to the draft regulations such that ratepayers can control for themselves whether or not they comply with the deadline. It seems unfair that the ratepayer could lose the right to challenge simply because of delay by the valuation officer.
Whether or not government accepts our amendments, the process for protesting a rateable value takes time. Therefore, the best advice to a ratepayer in your position is to seek professional rating surveying advice today.
This note reflects the rules in England.
[1]  See the Non-Domestic Rating (Chargeable Amounts) (England) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/1265.
[2]  We understand that some local authorities have been slow to engage with and implement CARF. If you have experienced problems with your local authority, please let us know.
[3] Out for consultation is a draft of The Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2022.
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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.
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