Business Rates appeals

Valuation appeals to the Valuation Office (VO)

You can appeal if you think your property has been given the wrong rateable value but the rules for appealing are quite strict.

You can appeal if you think any of the following applies:

  • The rateable value shown in the rating list (either following a revaluation or when the property is first valued) is wrong
  • There has been a material change of circumstances, which has affected the value of your property. Material changes of circumstances include:
    • a physical change to the building (for example, if part of it is demolished or destroyed)
    • a physical change in the local area (for example, if there have been major road works or flooding in the area)
    • a change in the use of the building
    • a change in the use of a neighbouring property
  • A valuation officer’s change in value is wrong
  • A decision by a Valuation Tribunal, lands tribunal or higher court has affected your own valuation (see below)
  • Your property should be exempt, or part of it should be considered as a domestic property
  • Your property should be considered for rating as more than one property, or several properties should be considered as one property
  • There is another sort of error in the list entry, for example, the address is wrong or the date of an alteration is wrong

If you decide to appeal you should do so as quickly as possible. This is because, for most appeals, there are limits on how far back any change in value will go. It is also important to act quickly because if you appeal following a material change of circumstances, the valuation must be based on the facts as they stand on the day you make your appeal. So, for example, if you appeal because you have been affected by disruption caused by local building work, but you only appeal after the work has finished, it is very unlikely that the rateable value of your property can be reduced.

If a valuation officer changes the rateable value and you want to appeal against that change, you must do so no later than six months after the valuation officer tells you about the change.
Your appeal may affect the amount you have to pay in business rates. If your rateable value changes as the result of your appeal, and the amount you have to pay is altered because of this, Harlow Council will let you know by sending you a revised bill.
In the meantime you must keep up your payments as shown on your original bill. If you don’t, the Council will take recovery action. When the appeal is settled, Harlow Council will refund, with interest, any difference between the amount you have already paid and any reduction resulting from the appeal. The Council will not pay interest if a liability order has been issued against you.
There are limits on backdating. In general, you can appeal against your valuation at any time while a rating list is in force. For example, for the rating list that came into force on 1 April 2005, you can appeal until 31 March 2010. However, the rateable value will be changed from either the date of the change in value or the effective date, whichever is later.

Exceptions to this rule are:

If a change, which affects your rateable value, happens in March in any year, you can appeal in the following month. In these circumstances, any change in value would be fully backdated to the date the change happened.
Also, if you are appealing on the following grounds, you can appeal at any time before the next revaluation and any change in value will be backdated to the date of the change in circumstances.

  • You think your property should be taken off the rating list
  • There has been a change between domestic and non- domestic use
  • Your property has been split or merged with another property
  • If your appeal is based on other valuation tribunal, lands tribunal or higher court decisions, you can  appeal up until six months after the next revaluation, as long as this is also within six months of the  relevant decision
  • It costs nothing to appeal and if you do decide to appeal you can do so in a number of ways:
  • You can ask the valuation officer for a form. He or she will send you one, together with some advice on  how to fill it in
  • You can get a form from the Valuation Office. You can fill this in and send it to the valuation officer over  the internet

The Valuation Office (VO) draws up a programme for handling all the appeals they receive, in co-operation with the Valuation Tribunals (VT’s).

The programme aims to inform you at an early stage of when the VO will consider your appeal and discuss it with you or your adviser; and the ‘target date’ when the discussions are expected to end.

The programme also gives you an idea of when the VT might hear your appeal if it is not settled through discussions with a valuation officer. Although a date for the hearing is not shown in the programme, it should be soon after the target date. However, the VT will decide the exact timing.

The VO reviews programmes each year to take account of any changes they have to make, for example, to deal with new appeals they have received. At the time of each review, you and your advisers will have the opportunity to make representations about it to the local valuation officer.

The Government has announced there will be limits on the backdating of changes to rating assessments with effect from 1 April 2015. If the Valuation Office Agency receive your appeal on or after 1 April 2015 then the earliest they can back date any changes is that date. Your billing authority can only back-date any business rates rebate to that same date. You will continue to have your full legal rights to appeal your rating assessment. 

The Valuation Office Agency will continue to fulfil their legal obligations to alter rating assessments if new information comes to light indicating the valuation is inaccurate. Any alterations they make on or after 1 April 2016 can only be backdated to 1 April 2015. Further information about the grounds on which appeals may be made and the process for doing so can be found on the website or obtained from your local valuation office.

Transitional arrangements can be affected by an appeal. You may find that a change in your property’s rateable value following an appeal makes no difference to the amount you pay until a later year. This is because the change in rateable value may not lead to a lower bill than the one you are already paying as a result of limits in the transitional scheme.

It is important to bear this in mind when you appeal, especially if you are considering using the services of a rating adviser who should be able to tell you how a change in the rateable value will affect your actual bill.

The VO may issue a transitional certificate following a successful appeal where a change in your rateable value cannot be fully backdated and this can affect your entitlement to transitional relief. In these cases the valuation officer may send you a transitional relief certificate, or ask you if you want one. The certificate allows the Council to issue a new bill taking full account of any transitional relief that might apply to it.

You may also receive a certificate if your property has changed on 1 April 2000 or has been split into two or more properties or joined with another property on any day from 1 April 2000. Again, the Council will use the value shown on the certificate to work out the correct amount of transitional relief that should apply to your bill.

Schedule of payments for certain backdated liability

Ratepayers who face certain backdated rates liability may be able to discharge that liability over up to 8 years by agreement with the Council.

This may be possible if the backdated liability has arisen as a result of an alteration to a ratings list which:

  • means a hereditament is shown on that list for the first time
  • has effect from a day that is at least 33 months prior to the date the alteration is made
  • is made on or before 31 March 2010; and
  • is not the result of a proposal by an interested person made under the Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of  Lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2005

To be eligible, ratepayers must have occupied one or more properties affected by the type of rating list adjustment above, within the Harlow area, between the effective date of the list alteration and the date it was actually made, for 33 months or more.

Ratepayers are not eligible if they were previously liable for rates in respect of a property “preceding” the new property assessment (that is, a property that forms a part of a new merged property or a part of a property that has been split into two or more new properties).

With the agreement of the Business Rates office, eligible ratepayers will be able to discharge any outstanding liability that accrued between the effective date of the relevant list alteration and the date the alteration was made over a period of up to 8 years.
Further details on the criteria and the process to obtain a schedule of payments are available from Contact Harlow.