RATES

 

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DOMESTIC RATES

 

In most instances it is clear how a property should be banded. A typical house or flat, for example, will be allocated a single council tax band. But there are many instances where it is more difficult to establish the number of council tax bands to be applied; this is particularly so when there are a number of dwellings within one building. Here we explain the different circumstances where this can arise and the criteria the VOA use in deciding how many council tax bands should apply in each instance.

 

You may note some discrepancy between planning and rating law, where on the one hand the government want to squeeze you of every penny they can, while the local authority do not want to admit to lawful development.  As far as I know, this has yet to be challenged in the County or High Court, to clarify the legal position.

 

 

 

Nelson says: "Ask for a Certificate of Lawful Development. 

If it is denied, you do not have business premises 

and should not pay commercial rates"

(See 'Non transit in res judicata'**)

 

 

 

The full definition of a dwelling is found in Section 3 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

 

Broadly speaking, a dwelling is a separate unit of living accommodation, together with any garden, yard, garage or other outbuildings, attached to it, all occupied by the same person(s) and within the same area of land.

 

A property can appear in the Council Tax Valuation List and a non-domestic rating list if it is used for both domestic and business purposes.

 

If a property contains more than one self-contained unit of accommodation, it will be divided into as many dwellings as there are self contained units for council tax purposes. We describe this process as 'disaggregation' and each dwelling will have its own council tax band.

 

A self contained unit means 'a building or part of a building which has been constructed or adapted for use as separate living accommodation' .

 

Separate living accommodation can mean both a unit of living accommodation which is physically separated from other accommodation, and also living accommodation which is annexed to and sharing an access with adjoining accommodation. The fact that a unit shares common services and cannot be sold on its own does not prevent it from being self contained. Equally, the degree of communal living is not a relevant factor. The primary test is whether a unit is constructed or adapted for use as separate living accommodation, not what use is made of it.

 

When considering whether any living accommodation is a self contained unit, we must have regard to several key points. These are:

  • The physical character and layout

    a self contained unit must be physically capable of use as separate living accommodation

  • The physical identity of the accommodation

    a self contained unit will normally not be spread over different parts of a building. For example: accommodation consisting of a living room and a kitchen with a bedroom and a bathroom situated across a common hallway is a not a self contained unit.

  • The provision of standard facilities

    a self contained unit must have areas capable of use for living, for food preparation, for washing and a WC.  Where a self-contained unit has had fittings removed, which could easily be reinstated as a matter of normal repair or renewal, then the unit will still be regarded as capable of separate occupation.  Similarly, the actual use being made of the rooms in a self-contained unit will not be a relevant consideration e.g. the fact that a former living room is used as a bedroom, or a former kitchen is used as a utility room.

Under existing legislation, disaggregation only applies to a building or part of a building. It therefore excludes caravans and boats.

 

Occasionally we may decide to treat what would otherwise be separate dwellings as a single dwelling. We describe this as 'aggregation'.

 

The law allows us to aggregate dwellings when, for example, dealing with a property which consists of a 'single self contained unit' and is occupied by separate households. An example of this might be a large house which has been converted to bedsit accommodation.

 

When we are considering whether it is appropriate to treat separate occupations as a single dwelling we must look at the extent, if any, to which the property has been structurally altered.

 

 


 

 

Searching the lists

 

You can use the lists to find a single property or all the properties that match certain criteria.

 

You can do as many searches as you like, but each individual search will be restricted to a single local authority (known as 'billing authority' here) area.

To start a search you must either select a billing authority or enter a full or partial postcode. Entering a postcode will automatically select the correct billing authority. If you do not know the postcode of a property, you can find it on the Royal Mail web site.

 

 

Help with your search

 

We have tried to make searching easy but if you need help, click on the 'do you need help with this screen?' link at the bottom of each page. There is also a help link at the top of every page, with an index to all the help pages and a glossary of terms. You can also see a step by step guide on how to look up a property's council tax band here (330 Kb).  To view the council tax list in Welsh, click on the Welsh flag in the top right hand corner. Click the flag again to return to the English version.

 

 

Property values and bands

 

The council tax band of a property is not related to its current market value. This is because, by law, council tax valuations are based on the price a property would have fetched if it had been sold on 1 April 1991. For Wales the Valuation date is 1 April 2003. General price movements in the housing market since that date are not, therefore, a reason for changing a council tax banding. If you are thinking of appealing against a band, please read the 'Can I appeal?' pages for the circumstances that permit an appeal. To make an appeal on line you need to find your property using the search facility below and follow the 'make an appeal' links.

 

 

 


 

 

 

BUSINESS RATES

 

 

Business rates are paid by most occupiers of business property as a way of contributing towards the cost of local services.

 

You receive your rates bill from your local authority each year, between February and April. It tells you the amount you have to pay in the coming year and how the local authority has worked out that amount. You will normally be asked to pay in a number of instalments. The bill shows the amount of each instalment and the dates on which you should pay.

 

Although your local authority issues the bill and collects your business rates, the total amount collected across the country goes into a central rate pool for England. This is managed by the ODPM, which redistributes the funds to local authorities, and to other bodies like police and fire authorities.

 

Every five years the rateable values of all 1.75 million business properties in England and Wales are reassessed. The most recent revaluation came into effect on 1 April 2005. Many ratepayers received details of their proposed new rateable value in the form of a summary valuation.

 

 

WORKING FROM HOME

 

More and more people are working from home. If you’re one of them, you might have to pay business rates on the part of the property you use for work. You will continue to pay council tax as usual on the rest of your property. However, the amount you pay on that part of the property may reduce.

 

A number of factors will determine whether the space in your home used as an ‘office’ will be liable for business rates. These will include the extent and frequency of the business use of the room (or rooms) and any special modifications made to the property. Each case is considered individually, usually through a visit from your local Valuation Office – which you should contact for further details. If your property needs to be assessed for business rates, your Valuation Office will work out a rateable value for the part used for non-domestic purposes.

 

 

VALUATION

 

The summary valuation explains how the rateable value of your business property has been calculated. The VOA sent a paper copy to most ratepayers in October 2004. The VOA is responsible for setting the rateable values of all 1.75 million business properties in England and Wales.

 

In future, where appropriate, all businesses will receive summary valuations. Currently, they are available to most shops, offices and industrial properties – approximately 1.3 million in total.  If those businesses that have received a summary valuation have their rateable value re-assessed and changed by the VOA, they will be sent an updated summary valuation that reflects any amendments.

 

The summary valuation is new. In the past you were only informed of the rateable value of your property. From now on you will get a full breakdown of how that rateable value has been calculated based on the characteristics of the property you occupy.

 

The summary valuation is not a rates bill. Your local authority calculates your rates bill by multiplying the rateable value by a factor set by central government each year called the multiplier, or Uniform Business Rate (UBR). Your local authority then applies any reliefs to which you might be entitled, to come up with a final figure for your bill. You will receive your rates bill from your local authority sometime between February and April each year.

 

 

RATE RELIEF

 

There are a number of rate reliefs businesses can apply for in order to ease the impact of their business rates bill.  This section outlines the criteria required to qualify for each type of rate relief and gives a general indication of the effect this might have on your bill.

 

Please note you should contact your local authority to apply for any type of relief and for further information. The following types of rate relief are available:

 


Small Business Rate Relief


This is a new relief that came into effect on 1 April 2005.

Eligible businesses with rateable values of below £5,000 will get 50% rate relief on their liability.  This relief will decrease on a sliding scale by an estimated 1% for every £100 of rateable value over £5,000, up to £10,000. Your local billing authority will calculate the exact decrease.

 

The relief is available to ratepayers with either:

  • one property, or

  • one main property and other additional properties, providing the additional properties do not have individual rateable values of more than £2,200, and the combined rateable value of all the properties is under £15,000 (or £21,500 in London).  The threshold for the combined rateable value is dependent on the location of the main property.  The main property is the only one that will have the relief applied to it.  The additional properties will have their charges calculated using the standard multiplier.

In addition to this relief on liability, eligible businesses with rateable values of between £10,000 and £14,999 (or between £10,000 and £21,499 in London) will have their liability calculated using the small business multiplier.

 

The Small Business Rate Relief scheme is funded by a supplement on the rate bill of those businesses not eligible for the relief.  This supplement is built into the standard multiplier.

 

Eligible ratepayers must apply for the relief each year, including those with rateable values between £10,000 and £14,999 (or between £10,000 and £21,499 in London).  If your business ceases to be eligible on a day during the financial year, the relief will cease on that day.  You must submit your application for the relief to your local authority within six months of the end of the financial year to which it relates - for the 2005/06 financial year, the last date for applications will be 30 September 2006.

 

Assuming a business meets the eligibility criteria, the relief can only be granted if the property the business occupies is on the rating list from 1 April.  The date of occupation of the property is irrelevant, the key date is the effective date given to the property in the rating list.  If the property has an effective date after 1 April, then the relief can only be applied for from 1 April of the following year.

 

 

Property empty and unused


You pay no business rates for the first three months that the property is empty and, after that, an empty property rate of 50% of the normal bill. But on industrial buildings, listed buildings and small properties with rateable values of less than £2,200, there are no rates to pay even after the first three months.  Empty property relief is available to the owner - in this case the owner is the person entitled to possession of the property in question.

 

 

Charities and charity shops


If the property is used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes, or the institution or organisation occupying it is established for charitable purposes only, or is occupied by people administering a trust established for charitable purposes only, you are automaticlaly entitled to an 80% reduction on your bill. You need to apply to your local authority, however, to make sure you receive it. In the case of charity shops, the property must be wholly or mainly used for the sale of goods donated to a charity and the proceeds of sale of the goods must (after deduction of expenses) be applied for the purposes of a charity.

 

Your local authority may also decide to further reduce the amount you have to pay – or even cancel the bill altogether. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

 

 

Not a charity, but another type of non-profit-making organisation


Although you have no automatic entitlement, local authorities may decide to give you relief or cancel your bill altogether. Your organisation must be non-profit-making and the property it occupies must be used for charitable, philanthropic or religious purposes or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts. Or the property must be used by a non-profit-making organisation wholly or mainly for the purpose of recreation.

The ODPM issued detailed guidance to local authorities on 'Rate reliefs for charities and other non-profit-making organisations' in December 2002 

 

 

Rural village of population under 3000


You are entitled to a 50% reduction in the rates bill – or more if your local authority feels you need it – if you are:
– the only village general store or post office, as long as it has a rateable value of less than £7,000
– a food shop with a rateable value of less than £7,000
– the only village pub or the only petrol station (rateable value of less than £10,500).
If you are a business in a qualifying rural village with a rateable value of less than £14,000 your local authority may decide to give you 100% relief if your business is of benefit to the local community.  The decision rests with the local authority.

 

 

Non-agricultural business on agricultural land or former agricultural buildings


This applies to business premises with rateable values of less than £7,000, whether they are run by the farmer or not.   The land or buildings in which the business is located must have been in agricultural use for at least 183 days during the year ending 14 August 2001, and the property must have been included in the rating list before 1 April 2005.  This relief offers a possible 50% reduction which can be increased to up to 100% by the local authority if they think you need it and the business is of benefit to the local community.  This particular scheme was intended to run for a five year period and is due to end on 14 August 2006. 

 

 

Part of your property is not being used and is completely unoccupied for a short time


Your local authority may consider giving you relief, if they decide you are entitled to it, and reduce your payment on the part of your property that is clearly unoccupied and beyond use for a short period of time.  Your local authority can choose to ask the VOA to divide the current rateable value between the parts of the property that are occupied and those which are not occupied.  If your application for this rate relief is succesful, you will pay full rates on the occupied part of the property and 50% in respect of the unoccupied part. 

 

 

You are suffering severe hardship and cannot pay your bill


Your local authority may give you up to 100% relief – the decision is up to them. It would normally only do this in extreme cases of hardship and for businesses that are particularly important to the local community. It would need to be satisfied that you would suffer hardship if the relief was not granted and takes account of the fact that local council tax payers will be paying part of the cost of the relief.

 

 

** res judicata — A rule of civil law that once a matter has been litigated and final judgment has been rendered by the trial court, the matter cannot be relitigated by the parties in the same court, or any other trial court. A court will use res judicata to deny reconsideration of a matter. Cf. res integra.

 

 

Please send your comments and general feedback about our site to customer services: customerservices@voa.gsi.gov.uk

If you have a technical query i.e. you cannot access certain sections of our site or the Rating list application is not working, please email our IT support desk at it_support.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Head Office
New Court
48 Carey Street
London WC2A 2JE
Tel: 020 7506 1700
Fax: 020 7506 1998

Birmingham Group
Regent Court
14 - 17 George Road
Edgbaston
BIRMINGHAM
B15 1NU
Tel: 0121 410 3700
Fax: 0121 410 3799

Email: birminghamgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

East Anglia Group
London House, New London Road,
Chelmsford, Essex CM2 0QL
Tel: 01245 541200
Fax: 01245 541299
Email : eastangliagroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

East Midlands Group
Block 5, Government Buildings
Chalfont Drive, Nottingham NG8 3RT
Tel: 0115 980 0900
Fax: 0115 980 0998
Email: eastmidlandsgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Leeds Group
42 Eastgate
Leeds LS2 7JL
Tel: 0113 388 4500
Fax: 0113 388 4603
Email: leedsgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Liverpool Group
72 Church Street
Liverpool L1 3AY
Tel: 0151 802 1000
Fax: 0151 802 1099
Email:liverpoolgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

London City Group
New Court, 48 Carey Street
London WC2A 2JE
Tel: 020 7530 7200
Fax: 020 7530 7299
Email:londoncitygroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

London North Group
Chase House
305 Chase Road
Southgate
London N14 6LZ
Tel: 020 8276 2700
Fax: 020 8276 2799
Email:londonnorthgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

London South Group
2nd Floor
1Francis Grove
Wimbledon
London SW19 4DT
Tel: 020 8276 8600
Fax: 020 8276 8699
Email: londonsouthgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

London Westminster Group
Wingate House
93/107 Shaftesbury Avenue
London WID 5BU
Tel: 020 7445 0500
Fax: 020 7445 0699
Email: londonwestminstergroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Manchester Group
Portland Tower
Portland Street
Manchester M1 3LD
Tel: 0161 245 4200
Fax: 0161 245 4298
Email: manchestergroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Newcastle Group
Eagle Star House
Regent Centre
Gosforth
Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE3 3TW
Tel: 0191 220 7000
Fax: 0191 220 7099
Email: newcastlegroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

North Wales Group
Regent House
Regent Street
Wrexham LL11 1PR
Tel: 01978 200000
Fax: 01978 200099
Email:northwalesgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

 

North West Group
104 Lancaster Road
Preston
Lancashire PR1 1LX
Tel: 01772 405700
Fax: 01772 405799
Email: northwestgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Reading Group
Kings Wharf
20 - 30 Kings Road
Reading RG1 3ER
Tel: 0118 980 4800
Fax: 0118 980 4899
Email: readinggroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Scotland Group
Allan Ainslie BSc (Hons), FRICS
Chief Valuer Scotland
50 Frederick Street
Edinburgh EH2 ING
Tel: 0131 465 0701
Fax: 0131 465 0799
Email: scotlandse.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk
N.B. In Scotland council tax and business rates are dealt with by the Scottish Assessors

Sheffield Group
Cathedral Court
1 Vicar Lane
Sheffield S1 1HD
Tel: 01142 894600
Fax: 01142 894689
Email: sheffieldgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

South East Group
Union House
Eridge Road
Tunbridge Wells TN4 8HF
Tel: 01892 796700
Fax: 01892 796799
Email:southeastgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

South Wales Group
Ty Rhodfa
TY Glas Road
Llanishen Cardiff CF14 5GR
Tel: 02920 806800
Fax: 02920 806899
Email:southWalesgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

South West Group
Broadwalk House
Southernhay West
Exeter
Devon EX1 ITS
Tel: 01392 606900
Fax: 01392 606998
Email: southwestgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

St Albans Group
St Peters House
45 Victoria Street
St Albans AL1 3WZ
Tel: 01727 774700
Fax: 01727 774799
Email: stalbansgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Wessex Group
Overline House
Central Station
Blechynden Terrace
Southampton SO15 1GW
Tel: 023 8053 8500
Fax: 023 8053 8599
Email: wessexgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

West Midlands Group
Crown House
Birch Street
Wolverhampton, WV1 4DS
Tel: 01902 438300
Fax: 01902 438399
Email: westmidlandsgroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk

Western Group
6th Floor Temple Gate House,
Temple Gate, Bristol, BS1 6PD
Tel: 0117 930 2200
Fax: 0117 930 2269
Email: westerngroup.vo

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

                         

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