Professional, Independent & Cost-effective Commercial Property Advice
Under the 2017 Rating List the intention of the government has been to make submitting appeals against rateable values difficult, time-consuming and costly. As a consequence it is now more important than ever for ratepayers to obtain timely and competent professional advice.
We have for many years acted on behalf of Scudamore's punting in Cambridge providing rent review, lease renewal and rating advice. When the Valuation increased the rateable value to £66,500 under the 2017 Rating List (up from £25,250 under the previous Rating List) we immediately instigated the "Check Challenge Appeal" process.
Unfortunately, the Valuation Office took a particularly intransigent position and the appeal was therefore listed for hearing at a Valuation Tribunal. However, following persistence on our part the Valuation Officer eventually conceded a rateable value of £40,000 - a 40% reduction, giving our client a deserved large saving in rates payable.
We were recommended to SGS International in 2014 to advise concerning a schedule of dilapidations served on the company at their site in West Cumbria where lease expiry was approaching. Following our advice the landlord backed off in its threats.
Upon sale of the freehold interest a new landlord served a further schedule of dilapidations on SGS. Our advice was that under section 18 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1927 (diminution in value) the tenant's liability was actually a fraction of the large sum which the landlord alleged to be appropriate.
In late 2016 we provided a detailed section 18 report and liaised with our recommended building surveyor. Following termination of the lease and vacation of the property, and despite pressure from the landlord and its appointed high profile building surveyors, we advised our client to hold firm. This strategy paid off when in mid-2017 we negotiated a favourable dilapidations settlement at a sum far far lower than that initially claimed by the landlord.
When our client, Ta Bouche, opened a new restaurant and bar in Ely in early 2014 we were shocked to note that the Valuation Office placed a rateable value of £69,000 on the property. This put great strain on the business.
After actively pursuing the VO we were eventually able to obtain a reduction to £49,250, saving our client over £9,500 per year in rates payable.
As a result of our appeal the draft 2017 RV was also reduced to a more sensible figure.
Rating appeals often take a long time to settle, and a recent successful case we concluded for a client indicates how important experience, persistence and expertise can be in achieving the desired result.
As consultant to Merrifields we advised Brookfield Utilities UK to appeal against the rateable value of £287,500 at the office premises it occupies outside Bury St Edmunds. Following almost two years of negotiation with the Valuation Officer it proved impossible to convince him to reduce the RV. As a consequence Paul prepared a detailed case which he presented to a Valuation Tribunal Hearing in Cambridge. Having heard the evidence and expert opinion of both parties to the dispute the Tribunal ordered the Valuation Officer to reduce the rateable value to the sum Paul had argued for at the Hearing; namely £194,000.
This pleasing result, together with subsequent negotiation success in respect of a number of historic rating assessments at the property, produced large savings for the client backdated to 2011.
Negotiating advantageous terms at lease renewal requires market knowledge and an appreciation of the way formal notice requirements can be used to contribute to a favourable result.
Taking advantage of the current market conditions, and the short period of time until notice to quit had to be served, we were recently able to negotiate a 35% reduction in rent for our client, Rogerson Footwear, at one of their outlets in Scotland. The new lease also now incorporates a break clause giving the client greater flexibility in the future.
Acting on behalf of Merrifields Chartered Surveyors for a St Edmundsbury Freemasons, a non-profit making organisation we appealed the Valuation Officers refusal to amend their rateable value and Rating List description. The client had purchased a former office and warehouse property for use as a club. With a rateable value of £52,000 the new occupier was facing a rates bill of around £24,000 per annum. Unfortunately, the Valuation Officer would not accept reasoned argument and so the dispute ended up at Valuation Tribunal. We presented a carefully prepared case on our client’s behalf. Further representations followed post-Hearing before the Tribunal eventually accepted our suggested rateable value of £16,500 backdated almost 3 years.
This saved the client in the region of £16,000 per annum for the duration of the current Rating List to 2017, and beyond.