For properties undergoing refurbishment it has been common practice for the Agent to seek to take the property out of ratings during the period of the work. In effect, taking a holiday from business rates.
The ratings appeal case of Monk v Newbigin (VO) casts doubt on the validity of this approach.
Although the case is still ongoing, the Valuation Office (VO) has issued updated practice guidelines that reflect the Court of Appeal’s ruling. They question previous assumptions around property refurbishments and valuations for business rates.
Paul Giness, of The Beattie Partnership, advises, “This is an important piece of case law. It hinges on what physical state a property is assumed to be in for rateable valuation purposes.”
The issue arising from the case is that, for a property in serious disrepair or undergoing refurbishment, there is the question of what constitutes “reasonable repair” (as the VO terms it). There is also the question of whether the cost of this is “economic”.
In the words of the VO’s own updated practice guidelines:
“Works underway may be simply repair works or other works. If the works are repair works then they are deemed to have already been done – providing they are economically reasonable – on the same basis as if they were repairs needing to be undertaken and not yet commenced”
In this particular case, the Valuation Office had originally ruled against a nominal £1 rateable value for a property undergoing refurbishment. The Court of Appeal backed this up, holding that the works being undertaken were indistinguishable from repairs and could be fairly categorised as such.
“This has an impact on schemes concerning major refurbishment and redevelopment,” explains Paul. “We cannot assume that this kind of work will enable us to claim a break from business rates if the VO deems that the work being done can be categorised as reasonable repairs.”
The Beattie Partnership has considerable experience in business rate appeals and reductions. They thoroughly assess each case it is involved with to see how this ruling might effect a client’s rateable value during refurbishment work.
“We need to be armed with all the facts and figures at our disposal,” concludes Paul, “so that we’re exploring every avenue available when it comes to business rate reductions”.
If you are planning a refurbishment and would like to know how this court case may affect you, please call The Beattie Partnership on 0161 228 2224 or visit their website here