The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced that its new appeal system of Check, Challenge, Appeal will include various penalties & fees. These are in addition to fees charged by specialist rating surveyors appointed by the appellant to deal with this more onerous, radically altered, appeal system.
The new appeal system requires the appellant or his agent to put in an increased amount of work to submit detailed arguments in order to determine whether an appeal may be successful.
The facts in the Valuation Office Agency’s (VOA’s) online valuation will have to be checked and certified as correct or alterations stated. Photographs, plans, planning consents and any other relevant documentation may have to be provided under the same caution. Ratepayers may be liable for a penalty of £500 (£200 for small businesses) for providing information knowingly, recklessly or carelessly.
Only when all the certified information has been provided to the VOA is the Check submitted allowing the case to proceed to the Challenge stage.
The appeal system places the onus on the rating surveyor to prove the case. At this stage detailed investigations are needed into the assessed level of value, its comparison with the rent on the actual property, rental evidence on comparative property and assessments of other comparables. A conclusion on value is reached including the base price £pm2 and both internal adjustments and external disabilities.
The contentions and evidence are sent to the VOA with a submission. It is only then that the VOA is likely to respond and provide its own evidence to show how the assessment in the Rating List is supported.
Negotiations will continue in the hope that agreement can be reached. It is anticipated that most proposals will be settled at the Challenge stage given the increased evidence that is required to be provided by the appellant.
If agreement cannot be reached at Challenge stage and the VOA has determined an unacceptable figure, appellants can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal. The fee for an Appeal will be £300 (£200 for small businesses) with a discount for cases determined without a hearing. If a hearing is successful this fee will be refunded to the ratepayer in full.
The powers of the Tribunal are now more limited as it is proposed that they should change the rateable value only where they consider that the valuation is outside the bounds of reasonable professional judgement. This means that more ratepayers will need to seek professional advice from a qualified rating surveyor.
Robert Seares of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ regulated RDS Commercial, has over 30 year’s experience in rating and is a former Chairman of the RICS Rating Diploma Holders Section as well as serving on the national committee of the Rating Surveyors’ Association. For advice contact Robert on 01993 705594 firstname.lastname@example.org