Survey of property directors reveals fears over company closures due to business rates revaluation

Over half of property directors believe that the current rates revaluation will force companies out of business, according to a survey organised by Avison Young at the recent Property Directors Forum.

Attendees at the event were asked to provide their thoughts on a number of topics affecting the property industry.  The majority of respondents considered that the rating revaluation would result in some big changes to the sector with expectations of business closures, relocations, growth of online and death knell for town centres.

52% of those surveyed thought that the business rates revaluation would mean that companies would be forced out of business, 48% considered it likely that companies would be forced to relocate to areas with lower rating assessments and 44% said that they expected that more businesses would move online and that, as a result, town centres would experience further decline.

In addition, almost a quarter of the respondents (22%) said that they would be changing their own property plans as a result of the rates revaluation and that their plans would include consolidation and agile working. Over half of the property directors surveyed said that they had not yet registered a business rates appeal.

The survey also revealed that almost half of the property directors considered landlords to have become more aggressive and assertive over the last six months with a quarter of them having seen a drive to increase rent and, perhaps as a result, around 75% of property directors are being proactive over rent reviews.

Avison Young’s Jason Sibthorpe said: “What is made crystal clear by this survey is that the business rates revaluation is a major issue with occupiers, to the extent that it is having a material effect on prospects for companies up and down the country.

“The survey of property directors also revealed that the chancellor’s Autumn Statement is expected to have very little impact and that businesses are waiting for the impact of Brexit negotiations. 82% of the respondents predicted a tough year ahead – with 27% of them saying that it would be ‘significantly so’.

“Almost three times as many property directors thought that Brexit will cause a decrease in demand for Commercial Property in the UK than those that expect an increase.”