Scots businesses urged to appeal new rating assessments

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Scottish ratepayers are being urged to lodge appeals against their revised rating assessments before the 30 September deadline.

Property firm JLL says businesses should act now to avoid being landed with unfair rateable values for the next five years. It said companies still had time to challenge rating assessments they felt might be excessive.

The Scottish Assessors last reviewed the Rateable Values in April 2010 based on market values just before the recession in 2008. This led to many businesses paying rates based on peak value levels for the past seven years.

The latest revaluation, the first for seven years, came into force on 1 April this year and was calculated using market levels from April 2015. After September 30 rateable values will be locked in until 2022.

Niall Rankin, Director at JLL in Glasgow said: “The latest revaluation will lock businesses into a rating assessment which, without an appeal, will be difficult to practically challenge for five years. With many businesses unaware of how the changes may affect them, we are encouraging companies to lodge an appeal which could result in substantial savings.”

The Barclay Review of Business Rates in Scotland, which is due to present its findings to the Scottish Government in July 2017, is expected to recommend reducing Scotland’s rating revaluation cycle from five years to three, and is likely to discourage ratepayers from lodging appeals. Any changes to the cycle length are not expected to take place until the 2022 revaluation.

Niall Rankin added: “The problem with the five year cycle is that it doesn’t properly reflect the changing economic environment which in recent years has shown itself to be highly volatile for certain business sectors and locations in Scotland. For locations like Aberdeen, whose local economy relies upon the success of the oil and gas industry, the drop in oil price in turn affected demand for commercial property, causing rental values to drop but leaving disproportionately high rateable values for property and business owners.

“Despite there being an appeal process in place in between revaluations to take account of any material change of circumstances (MCCs), taking such disputes to court has proved largely unsuccessful for dissatisfied ratepayers in recent years. That’s why it is critically important for businesses to obtain professional advice and to exercise their right of appeal before September 30.  Businesses have little to lose by lodging a protective appeal against their current Rateable Value.”

Landlords are also being encouraged to challenge their current rating assessments, even if they have existing tenants. With empty relief being scrapped in recent years, empty properties will incur charges directly to landlords. Empty office and retail properties are now entitled to 3 months at 50% relief – a reduction from 100% relief – and thereafter 10%. Empty industrial properties are entitled to 6 months 100% relief before it drops to 10% thereafter.

Appeals can be made to the local assessor’s office by 30 September 2017.