Factory and warehouse assessed together

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has determined that a factory building and a warehouse building on sites separated by a public highway, but linked by a substantial conveyor bridge form a single hereditament for rating purposes. The Tribunal’s decision applied the geographical test set out by the Supreme Court in Woolway (VO) v Mazars [2015] and concluded that the three elements of property occupied by the ratepayer, the factory, the warehouse, and the conveyor bridge, should realistically be regarded as a single unit of property. The Tribunal’s decision also dealt with the issue of valuation arising from the finding that these elements formed a single hereditament, and applied an end allowance of 7.5% to reflect the split nature of the site.

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Rates mitigation schemes were “shams”

The High Court has found that licences made in respect of two properties in Cardiff were sham transactions, designed to avoid a liability for empty rates, rather than being made with the intention of being implemented. The Court also found that, in both cases, the landlord of the property concerned was in rateable occupation, and was liable for empty rates, rather than the alleged licencee. The decision in Queen Street Properties Ltd and Another v Cardiff City Council [2022] is the latest in a growing line of cases disputing the effectiveness of different empty rates mitigation strategies. In these latest cases, the company that purported to be the ratepayer was dissolved, but the District Judge, and the High Court on appeal, found that in both cases the landlord company was in rateable occupation. ...Read More

Assessment of retail unit reduced

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has allowed an appeal by the ratepayer of a retail unit in Upper Street, Islington. The Tribunal determined that the Zone A value for the unit should be reduced from £2,100 per square metre to £1,800 per square metre and that a 5% allowance should be made to reflect the irregular shape of the unit. ...Read More

Restrictions on business rates appeals become law

The Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Act 2021 received the Royal Assent on 15 December 2021. The non-domestic rating section of this Act is enacted to provide that matters attributable to coronavirus that may not be taken account of in determining rateable values for the current rating lists. The purpose of the Act is effectively to quash appeals made against current rateable values for the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions associated with the pandemic. The non-domestic rating section of the Act relates to both England and Wales and has retrospective, as well as current, effect. ...Read More

Completion Notices found invalid

The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has found that Completion Notices, served by a local authority to deem a property complete for the purposes of charging empty rates, were invalid in circumstances where the completion date set by the notices was before the date of service of the notice. Because the effect of the notice was to create a liability for tax on a counter-factual basis, this required strict compliance with the regulations, rather than simply “substantial compliance”. This decision will be of interest to local authorities, who serve completion notices, and to the owners of ne, unoccupied, buildings, on whom these notices are served. ...Read More