The clock is ticking for companies that believe they may be entitled to business rate refunds after undertaking refurbishment or building work, according to a rating expert at national commercial property consultancy Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH).
Graham Heilbuth, associate director of rating at LSH, is urging businesses whose properties have been subject to works programmes since April 1, 2015, to seek professional rating advice as a matter of urgency, as there may be an opportunity to make substantial business rates savings.
His advice follows a “hugely significant” Supreme Court decision earlier this year in the case of Monk v Newbigin (VO), which considered the rateable value of an office property undergoing substantial refurbishment.
Whilst the Court found in favour of the owner/developer of an office property, and reduced the rating assessment to £1 during a period of building work, the decision will have implications for a range of property types and works projects including conversions from one use to another, changes of internal fit out and re-modelling.
Graham said: “This decision has finally clarified what had previously been an uncertain area of the law. In many cases, this should result in the de-rating of properties for the entire works period, although in practice this will often not have occurred. However, since the Valuation Office Agency can still revisit assessments as far back as April 2015, it is not too late for ratepayers to seek redress.”
This remains a complex area of the law and as the VOA will lose its power to re-visit previous Rating List assessments from April of next year, ratepayers are urged to take prompt action, before it is too late.