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Business Rates Demands – Can you drop the Charges?

Business rates demands are an often forgotten element of the cost of property ownership and there are many examples of business’ that have run into financial difficulty complaining that the high charges were a factor in their business failure.

Your business rates are calculated by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and are collected by your local authority. The calculation is based on your property rental value and the use to which your property is made (or can be made).

The last revaluation for calculating your rates was carried out in April 2010 and since then many business organisations have seen an increase in the demands being raised.

You should check the calculation made on your business is correct as there are areas from which you can appeal for a reduction or relief from these charges. Here are 6 quick steps that could see your charges drop;

1 The Government introduced a temporary increase for businesses eligible for Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR). Check your eligibility.

2 Mandatory reliefs is available to registered charities and to Community Amateur Sports clubs. Do you qualify?

3 Discretionary relief is available to non-profit making organizations and this is judged on set policy guidelines. If you think you qualify then approach the VOA.

4 Is your property empty or unoccupied, have you claimed relief from payment (3 months for offices and a further 3 months for industrial units)?

5 Has there been a negative impact on your trade due to vacant commercial properties in the local area, or major works such as road digging that has reduced customers accessing your business?

6 Do you still use the premises in the same way as you did when the revaluation took place, is there a new layout or alterations? These could affect the way the property is valued.

Peter Knight,from Manchester-based property management company Knight Site Solutions, said: “Business rates are one of the biggest outgoings for many businesses but many small firms are still paying over the odds when they could be benefitting from the Government’s business rates relief scheme.

“If your business has a multi-property portfolio and doesn’t qualify for the relief we can still help. Our professional rating surveyors can assess your commercial property to ensure your current rates are accurate and fair and will even negotiate with the Valuation Office on your behalf to try to reduce them if potential savings are identified. In the current economic climate, this saving could be well received”.

If you are thinking of appealing to the VOA then ensure that you have good records such as dates and photos as evidence to support your case. The rewards can be significant and you should consider seeking specialist advice from an RICS chartered surveying practice.

Further information is available from; Valuation Office Agency
Your local authority will have leaflets such as Summary Valuations (V07132)

Property Aspects magazine thanks Peter Knight at Knight Site Solutions for his assistance in publishing this article.