How to appeal your rateable value
A step-by-step guide to appealing the rateable value of your business property.
Before making an appeal
Before making an appeal, you should check that your assessment is correct and read the information to understand how your property was valued. It may be possible to resolve your query without making a formal appeal.
The appeals process
There are 3 main stages in the process:
- Submit an appeal to alter the rating providing evidence about why you think your valuation is wrong.
- Formal discussion to resolve your appeal, where your evidence to support your view with be reviewed and agree facts.
- Present your case to a Valuation Tribunal if it’s not possible to resolve your appeal through discussion.
This process is free of charge and can be undertaken by yourself.
Submitting an appeal
The guidance notes explain who may appeal, the circumstances and grounds on which an appeal can be made, time limits for service and how an appeal must be served.
Please make it clear on the form if you applied for hardship assistance from your local authority.
You must continue to pay your rates bill during the appeal.
First you need to find your property using the VOA’s online tool.
Once you’ve found your property, and believe that information about your property is wrong you can let the VOA know without making a formal appeal by clicking on “amend these valuation details”.
If you do want to formally appeal you can use then ‘Appeal against this valuation’ using the button in the form.
After the VOA have received your appeal
The VOA will acknowledge receipt and provide you with a case number.
They will check if the appeal appears to be valid, based on the information available to them. This means they’ll check that the proposal form has been filled in correctly and that the reason is one of the grounds defined by legislation.
If it is, they will accept your proposal as valid, this means your appeal meets the statutory requirements for completion. It doesn’t mean that they accept that the rateable value is wrong.
When the appeal is not accepted
If the VOA doesn’t believe that the appeal is valid, they’ll notify you to explain why and the options open to you.
When the appeal is accepted
If the VOA believes the appeal is valid they will keep you informed at each stage in the process and write to inform you of the period during which your appeal can be discussed.
The VOA will try to resolve all appeals promptly and will continue to prioritise appeals where the grounds are factual or where financial hardship is identified.
Programme for discussion
Your appeal will be placed in a programme for discussion which allows a specific timeframe for discussion with a start and target date. They’ll notify you of the programme details and l write to you again before the start date to invite discussion.
What the VOA requires in order to handle your appeal effectively
It’s your responsibility to define clearly why you to believe that the rating list should be altered. To do this you will need to:
- identify factual discrepancies
- provide evidence to support your arguments
- provide an alternative valuation
It’s helpful if you have this ready within 2 weeks of the start date of the discussion period.
If you send in your presentation of evidence or factual issues late, this can delay resolving your appeal. The VOA will then be in a position to enter into meaningful discussions to resolve your appeal.
Going to the Valuation Tribunal
If your appeal hasn’t been resolved by the end of the discussion period, your case will be dealt with by the Valuation Tribunal. The Tribunal will list the appeal for a public hearing.
There are variations in how the Valuation Tribunal works, depending on whether you’re in England or Wales.
For businesses in England
- it is the intention of the Tribunal, wherever possible, to arrange for the first hearing of an appeal within 6 months of the programmed target date
- wherever possible the Tribunal will provide at least 6 weeks’ notice of the first listing
How you need to serve documents on the VOA
You’ll need to submit a written Statement of Case to the Tribunal and the VOA 6 weeks before the hearing date. You must also serve a copy on any other parties to the appeal.
You can serve your documents by hand, post or fax to the Valuation Office location covering the Billing Authority in which your property is situated.
Service by email must be to the Unit inbox covering the Billing Authority in which your property is situated and should:
- include in the subject line the VOA case number (shown on correspondence), Statement of Case (SoC) and the property address
- be no more than 1Mb to guarantee that the documents are received
Your SoC must:
- set out the disputed issues
- state the outcome you are seeking
- summarise your arguments and evidence
In reply the VOA will submit its written SoC to you and the Tribunal 4 weeks before the hearing date.
At the hearing, you need to satisfy the Tribunal why your proposal to change the rateable value should be accepted.
Guidance about the tribunal hearing and how to prepare a statement of case can be found on the Valuation Tribunal’s website.
The procedure in Wales
The Valuation Tribunal Wales has Best Practice Protocols which you should read. The key points are:
- the Tribunal, wherever possible, will arrange for the first hearing of an appeal within 6 to 8 weeks of the target date unless it has been determined that the appeal should proceed initially to a pre hearing review
- the Tribunal will give a minimum of 28 days’ notice of the date, time and place of the hearing
- the Valuation Officer must provide details of the rental evidence that they wish to refer to at the hearing at least 3 weeks before the hearing date
- the Tribunal expects that all parties to the appeal discuss and exchange evidence at least 2 weeks before the hearing day
Proposed reforms to business rates appeals
There is widespread agreement that the business rates appeals system is in need of reform. Currently too many appeals are made with little supporting evidence.
When that evidence is provided, it is regularly given late in the process, leading to long delays for ratepayers. Many appeals are made as a matter of routine, and the majority of appeals do not result in either an appeal hearing or a change to the rating list.
The government has consulted on a new approach to dealing with factual and valuation issues in a timely and efficient way so that any necessary refunds can be made quickly. This will provide a modern, streamlined and efficient system in which issues are identified by the ratepayer early, then discussed as necessary, and resolved as quickly as possible.
An overview of the process
The check stage will give the ratepayer an opportunity to view the property data held by the VOA and update it if required. The rating list (which lists the rateable values for all non-domestic properties) will be updated to reflect the revised facts, if necessary. Where facts cannot be agreed, the disputed facts will be clearly established.
The information will be available in a much clearer form than currently, and it will be easier for ratepayers to understand how their valuation has been worked out.
The challenge stage allows the ratepayer to challenge their rating list entry if they think it is wrong. Ratepayers will need to set out their reason for the challenge, and put forward an alternative rating list entry (which will include an alternative valuation, if that is the reason for the challenge), with supporting evidence.
There will then be an opportunity for discussion between the parties, if necessary. At the end of the challenge stage the VOA will issue a decision on the challenge and the rating list will be altered where necessary.
The appeal stage allows a ratepayer to appeal the decision issued by the VOA to the independent Valuation Tribunal for England.
The Tribunal will consider the VOA’s decision, based on the evidence exchanged at the challenge stage. If the Tribunal disagrees with the VOA’s decision, it may conclude that the ratepayer’s proposed rating list entry is correct, or may substitute its own decision.
Full details of the proposals are set out in the consultation paper at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reforming-business-rates-appeals-check-challenge-appeal. There will be further consultation on the draft regulations before the new system comes into effect in April 2017.
Published: 22 January 2016
From: Valuation Office Agency