Business rates: how different properties are measured

What to expect when the Valuation Office Agency visit and measure non-domestic property.

Inspecting your property

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) may need to inspect your property to make sure the information we hold is accurate.

We will arrange the inspection by phone, letter or email depending on the contact details we have for you. We may on occasion call at your property without arranging an inspection if we are already in the area.

What to expect when we visit the property

Normally only 1 person from the VOA, known as a referencer, will call at your property to inspect. They will have identification with them which you can ask to see. They will use a laser tape or other measuring devices to measure the property. They will also make notes and take photographs.

What we will need from you

On inspection the referencer or caseworker will gather all of the information they need to value the property.

To help them do this you will need to:

  • give open access to all parts of the property
  • provide a copy of the property plan if you have one
  • give us accurate information when asked about your occupation and the rent you pay

Surveying standard for VOA measurements

A standard approach to measurement is used for different types of property. The way we measure property is contained in the VOA measuring guide. This complies with the code approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The recognised surveying standard for retail property and offices is Net Internal Area (NIA). The recognised surveying standard for industrial property is Gross Internal Area (GIA).

Zoning retail properties

Zoning is a standard way of measuring retail premises for valuation purposes. It recognises that the most valuable part of the retail premises is towards the front of the property, nearest the display window. Zoning will not be appropriate for all shops. For example large department stores and supermarkets will not be zoned

Zones explained

Your retail premises is divided into a number of zones:

  • each of these zones normally has a depth of 6.1 metres (20 feet)
  • the first zone, nearest the display window is zone A
  • the next 6.1 metre zone is Zone B and the next Zone C
  • the zones will continue back from the front of the property until the entire depth of the retail area has been zoned
  • anything after Zone C is defined as the remainder
  • the zoned area will include any space created by using non structural walls or partitions

How we value zones

Retail premises come in all shapes and sizes. By dividing a shop into standard zones we are able to take account of these differences when analysing rental evidence. Rental evidence is broken down to a price per square metre per zone. The value of each zone reduces by half as you move further back from the shop’s front. For example The value of Zone B will be half the value of Zone A, Zone C will be half that of Zone B.

How we use retail zoning for business rates

After we have visted

We will update our records relating to your property. We will value your property based on the information we gathered on our inspection.

Where we are reviewing your rateable value:

  • we may contact you again to check on details before finalising your business rates assessment
  • you will receive a Valuation Office Notice when we have finalised your rateable value
  • your council will be informed of your new rateable value and they will calculate your bill based on this information

After a visit during an appeal

Where you have made an appeal against your business rates:

  • a caseworker will contact you or your agent after the inspection to discuss the rateable value and try to resolve your appeal
  • if we agree a change in your rateable value with you or your agent the council will be informed of this change and they will calculate your bill based on this new rateable value
Published 10 November 2014
Last updated 6 October 2016 + show all updates
  1. 'How we use retail zoning for business rates' video has been added.
  2. Minor change
  3. First published.