Following amendments made by The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018 some of the rules concerning the indentification of a hereditament are different in England and in Wales. The law applicable only in England is indicated below by the words ‘In England…’
In many cases the identification of the hereditament will be a straightforward matter but it is the first thing that needs to be done. Before a valuation can be made it is necessary to know what is to be valued - the hereditament - and how many there should be.
From case law a number of broad rules can be discerned particularly now from the judgement of the Supreme Court in the Woolway case (Woolway (VO) v Mazars.  RA 373).
The Woolway case concerned whether the 2nd and 6th floors of Tower Bridge House in London formed one hereditament or two. The Supreme Court decided following a careful examination of established legal principles that each floor formed its own hereditament. It set out clear tests for establishing the hereditament. Further background information is given in paragraph 3.8 below.
A previous case of the Court of Appeal in Gilbert (VO) v S Hickinbottom & Sons Ltd (1956 CA, 2 Q.B. 40; 1 RRC 46) was regarded until Woolway as providing the leading decision on the identification of the hereditament. Given the criticism of that case by the Supreme Court in Woolway the *Hickinbottom case should now be disregarded.
In England, The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018 provides for hereditaments meeting a new contiguity condition to be shown in a list as a single hereditament under S64 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.
The legislation effectively reverses the aspect of the Supreme Court decision which required non-intercommunicating occupations to be assessed separately and reverts to the former practice where separate but adjoining areas, used for the same purpose and in common occupation are valued as a single assessment.
Paragraph 2.9 below covers the considerations which should be applied in England to determine whether one or more hereditaments in common occupation, meet the contiguity provisions and provided they are used for same purpose (see 2.6) fall to be assessed as one hereditament.
The amendments have effect for financial years beginning on 1st April 2010. This means that the provisions at 2.9 should be applied to determine the unit of assessment for property in common occupation, for all 2017 list casework in England – maintenance, Check, Challenge, Appeal – together with outstanding 2010 appeals in England.
Rating is a tax on the occupation of land and buildings. The ratepayer is taxable in respect of their occupation but this does not fundamentally assist in identifying the hereditament(s) because the ratepayer may occupy one or more hereditaments. The ‘chicken and egg’ problem of which comes first, identifying the hereditament or identifying the occupier, is a perennial one because they are interlinked. What may be a single hereditament if there is one occupier may be several hereditaments if there is more than one occupier; but merely because one person occupies nearby or contiguous properties does not necessarily make them one hereditament.
It is completely clear, however, that a property rateably occupied by more than one occupier cannot form a single hereditament.
Most complications arise when there is a single occupier and it is necessary to establish if that, or those, properties comprise a single hereditament.
The first test would, therefore, logically be to identify the rateable occupier - but, this returns to the ‘chicken and egg’ question because it is not possible to identify the rateable occupier without knowing what the hereditament is!
What, though, can be established in any situation, hopefully, is who is actually ‘present’ at the property/properties; what their various rights are; the extent of their occupation; what actually occurs in practice on the ground and other matters to do with rateable occupation. Against the background of possible rateable occupation(s) it is possible to examine the first and primary test - the Geographic Test.
See paragraph 3.5 for guidance on identifying the occupier/extent of occupation.
2.3 The Geographic Test
In England this test has been superseded by The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018. See 2.9 for considerations to be applied in England.
The Geographic Test simply looks at whether the premises under consideration constitute a single unit on a plan. This might be a single unit horizontally or vertically - it is not a plan in two dimensions only. Normally this will be a self-contained piece of property i.e. all parts of which are physically accessible from all other parts, without having to go onto other property
This unity on a plan is not simply a question of contiguity: it is not simply a question of whether two pieces of property touch. There needs to be direct communication between the two parts. Normally, if it is necessary to go out of one part and into the other part via the street or common parts (for example, from one floor to another in an office building) this will mean the two parts are separate hereditaments notwithstanding there being a single occupier.
It might be thought floors next to each other in a building e.g. the second and third floors, or two shops side by side occupied by a single occupier might constitute one hereditament because they are contiguous. However usually there will be no direct communication between them and to reach each of the floors it will be necessary to go out into the shared common parts which are not in the occupation of the occupier or with the shops go out into the street or shopping mall.
Floors adjacent to each other in an office building will also not be contiguous to each other because there will often be a void between them which contains servicing equipment and is in the possession of the landlord of the building rather than the occupier.
If direct communication were to be established, by piercing a staircase through the floor slab or a doorway through the wall then the occupier would usually be said to have created a new and larger hereditament in place of the two which previously existed.
Exceptionally it may be found that, whilst there is a separate fire escape, the main staircase and lavatories on each floor are not accessible by other occupiers but only by the contiguous floors in the same occupation. In this circumstance contiguous floors will intercommunicate without a need to go into common parts and will form a single hereditament. Similarly it might be found the occupier of the top floors of a building has sole occupation of the staircases and the sanitary accommodation for those floors and they are not, in fact, common parts shared in common with the rest of the building. In this circumstance the contiguous top floors in one occupation may be a single hereditament.
Prima facie, where an occupier has two or more continuous and intercommunicating parts these will form a single hereditament because of the Geographic Test: conversely where an occupier has two or more discontinuous or non-intercommunicating occupations these will not, because of the Geographic Test, form a single hereditament. The outcome of the initial Geographic Test may, though, need to be modified because of the other tests.
Appendix 1 gives examples of the working of the rules in Wales.
Appendix 1a gives examples of the working of the rules in England.
Connection by cables, wires, pipes and railway lines have generally not been held to create geographic unity. Therefore premises separated by property in other occupations, including public highways, private roads (where the occupier does not have exclusive rights over the road), railway and canals are not geographically one merely because of such connections.
Appendix 2 discusses the connection by cables, wires and pipes.
2.4 The Functional Test
Where two parts of a property or two spaces are geographically distinct, a functional test may, nonetheless, enable them to be treated as a single hereditament but this will only be so where the use of one is necessary to the effectual enjoyment of the other. It will be the exceptional situation.
This situation might need to be considered where two parts are divided by a public road, e.g. a factory complex with buildings either side of a highway; or where two parts are divided by land in the occupation of a third party.
An objective test, not one based on the way the ratepayer uses premises
Prior to the Woolway case this question was normally considered on the basis of whether the two parts were ‘functionally essential’ the one to the other. Sometimes this was considered having regard to the particular way the occupier chose to use the two parts. Following Woolway having regard to the actual use is not correct and, indeed, this phrasing of the test appears wrong. Importantly the Functional Test is not a question of examining the particular needs or way of operating the two parts by the actual occupier but looking at the nature of the premises objectively. As Lord Gill said,
It cannot be right that geographically separate premises should be valued as one hereditament simply because the ratepayer chooses to link his use of one with his use of the other. To modify the geographical test with considerations of functionality, in this sense of the word, is to add to a clear and objective test the uncertainty of a test that is dependent on whatever happens to be the ratepayer’s choice of use.
Functionality… is not a reference to the use that the ratepayer chooses to make of the premises. It is a reference to a necessary interdependence of the separate parts that is objectively ascertainable.
the question whether the use of one section is necessary to the effectual enjoyment of the other depends not on the business needs of the ratepayer but on the objectively ascertainable character of the subjects.
Whether the use of one part is necessary to the effectual enjoyment of the other was described in Woolway by Lord Sumption as something that:
could commonly be tested by asking whether the two sections could reasonably be let separately?
To a large extent, of course, any two parts ‘could’ be let separately but the question asks whether they could ‘reasonably’ be let separately. This appears to invoke a test of whether one part could be separately let and therefore separately occupied without significant detriment to the other part.
Lord Gill said:
Properties that are discontiguous but nonetheless geographically linked, may constitute one hereditament if the occupation of one part would be pointless without the occupation of the other.’
Lord Neuberger echoed this in saying that ‘strict necessity is not the test’ but if one property ‘could not sensibly be occupied or let other than with the other property’ then the two parts should be treated as one hereditament.’
The rare case
It is important to note that treating two separate properties as one hereditament is very much the unusual situation. As Lord Neuberger said, ‘Where premises consist of two self-contained pieces of property it would, in my view, require relatively exceptional facts before they could be treated as a single hereditament.’ Lord Sumption described the circumstance as ‘rare’:
There are, however, rare cases in which function may also serve to aggregate geographically distinct subjects. (para 6)
How far apart can the geographical separate parts be?
In cases before the Woolway case was decided it was very clearly established that the two parts needed to be close to each other - normally simply the distance of a road’s width away.
In Edwards (VO) v BP (Llandarcy) Ltd (1974 LT RA 1), the Lands Tribunal (Mr Stuart Daniels QC and Mr Emlyn Jones FRICS) stated the following, which included what has been seen as a very useful and often quoted analogy:
Consideration of these two cases leads us to the conclusion that the two separate properties which are not directly and physically contiguous could not properly be regarded as a single hereditament unless firstly, there is an essential functional link between the two parts and secondly, there is a substantial degree of propinquity. One might perhaps consider the analogy of a sparking plug where the gap between the parts is so small that it can physically be traversed in the course of the functioning of the whole. It might also be true to say that the stronger the spark the greater the gap that can be traversed.
Note: The word “propinquity”, in the context of the above quotation, can be taken to mean “nearness”.
In Re the appeals of Evans (VO) (2003 LT RA 173) it was held that the functional connection was not sufficiently strong to overcome a geographical separation of 380 metres (in which seven intervening buildings were situated) between the two buildings.
In Woolway the judges did not mention the degree of separation. However the test of whether one part could be separately let and therefore separately occupied without significant detriment to the other part is very much more likely to be met where the two parts are geographically very close and the geographical separation small. In the rare cases to which the functional test applies to aggregate two geographically distinct parts it is likely that if the two parts are not close that they will reasonably be capable of separate letting and therefore remain two hereditaments.
2.5 The test of Occupation
Rating is a tax on property arising from the occupation of land and identification of the hereditament is inextricably bound up with the concept of rateable occupation.
The concept of rateable occupation was developed to determine whether an occupier of a property was liable to pay rates as a consequence of that occupation. What constitutes occupation is well illustrated in LCC v Wilkins (VO) (CA), where the court brought together earlier cases, including John Laing & Son v Kingswood Assessment Committee  KB 344 which set out four necessary ingredients for rateable occupation, as per Tucker LJ;
First, there must be actual occupation; secondly, that it must be exclusive for the particular purposes of the possessor; thirdly, that the possession must be of some value or benefit to the possessor; and fourthly, the possession must be for not to transient a period.
In Woolway, the Supreme Court made it clear that the primary test in identifying the rateable hereditament was geographic and it might be thought occupation had little to do with this. However, as Lord Neuberger pointed out (para 49):
the occupation of premises can in some circumstances serve to control their status as one or more hereditaments. An office building let to and occupied by a single occupier would be a single hereditament, but if the freeholder let each floor of the building to a different occupying tenant, retaining the common parts for their common use, then each floor would be a separate hereditament.
Occupation, therefore, needs to be considered and will very often determine what is or is not a hereditament. A single geographical whole occupied by one occ upier will normally be a single hereditament: the same occupied in parts will be several hereditaments.
Absence of occupation, and the four tenets or ingredients of rateable occupation, does not mean that an identified hereditament cannot be entered in a rating list or remain there; the fact the property is capable of separate occupation in accordance with the established hereditament ‘rules’ will enable entry as ‘property which is or may become liable to a rate.’
Sometimes connected companies or organisations will be found to be occupying the same building or site. A difficulty may arise in deciding whether each occupation comprises a separate hereditament or whether there is a single hereditament occupied by the main company with the other companies either being in the position of lodgers, not in paramount occupation of their areas or are merely the main company under another name. Paragraph 7 deals with the question of “corporate veil” and contiguous occupying companies.
Rateable occupation is covered in some detail in Ryde on Rating at Division B, Chapter 2. It was also considered in some detail by the Court of Appeal in Vtesse Networks Ltd v Bradford (VO) (2006) EWCA Civ 1339 CA RA 427.
2.6 The test of whether part is ‘Used for an entirely different purpose’
In Woolway Lord Gill noted that functionality might also ‘be relevant where premises that are apparently geographically linked are wholly disassociated’ and gave as an example the hotel and engine sheds in the York Union case (see later).
Lord Sumption said that ‘the functional test serves to divide a single territorial block into different hereditaments where severable parts of it are used for quite different purposes.’
This aspect of the functional test has long established that premises, comprising a single geographical unit and in a single occupation, may form more than one hereditament if parts of the premises are used for entirely different purposes.
In what is generally referred to as the leading case in respect of the ‘entirely different purpose’ exception, in North Eastern Railway Company v York Union ( 1 QB 733) the railway company were rated, in one lump sum, for the whole of York station (including the railway hotel and refreshment rooms, a number of engine sheds, carriage and wagon shops and similar buildings, an electric light works, a pumping station, coal yards and warehouses), together with running lines and sidings. It was admitted by the respondent that the hotel and refreshment rooms should have been separately rated, but it was denied that any further subdivision was necessary. It was found as fact that various parts might be occupied separately from the railway, but as presently laid out, they were only adapted for use by the railway company themselves. On these facts, it was held that no further subdivision of the property was necessary apart from the hotel and refreshment rooms
The entirely different purpose exception to the general rule appears to come from the remarks of Channell J, which, although strictly obiter dicta, are repeated below:
We are not asked to give any opinion about the hotel and refreshment rooms. If we had to give a decision upon them, I think the matter would be one of greater difficulty. If it is a mere question of fact whether the hotel is to be treated as a separate hereditament from the rest of the station, speaking for myself, I should be inclined to find that it ought to be so treated. In arriving at that conclusion I should be influenced by the fact that the hotel and the rest of the railway station are used for wholly different purposes…
Subsequently decided cases provide some further guidance on the question of what constitutes use of property for an entirely different purpose, such use being sufficient to justify dividing what would otherwise constitute a single hereditament.
In Dick Hampton (Earth Moving) Ltd. v Lewis (VO) and United Gravel Co. Ltd. v Sellick (VO) (1973 (LT RA 227), (1975 CA RA 269), which involved the rateability of borrow pits from which huge quantities of gravel were excavated for use in the building up of embankments on adjoining motorways, it was held that although the motorway site and borrow pit were in a single occupation and comprised a single geographical unit, nevertheless there were two hereditaments.
In his decision Lord Denning MR said:
…The two sites are used so much as one that they might in the ordinary way be regarded as a single hereditament for rating purposes. But the authorities show there are exceptional cases where an apparently single site may be treated as two or more hereditaments…. This is I think an exceptional case. The contractors occupy the two sites in two different capacities. They occupy the site of the motorway in their capacity as contractors doing the work of constructing the motorway, and therefore exempt from rating. But they occupy the site of the borrow pit in their capacity as suppliers of material, like the occupiers of a quarry supplying material for use elsewhere. These two different capacities mean that there are two separate hereditaments, the motorway site is not rateable, but the borrow pit is.
In Brook (VO) v National Coal Board and Burnwell Coal Ltd. (1975 CA RA 367), Lord Denning MR, determining that a spoil heap whilst being contiguous to and in the same occupation as an adjoining mine nevertheless constituted a separate hereditament said:
…I gave as an instance the case where one part is used for some entirely different purpose… This spoil heap is used for an entirely different purpose from the rest of the mine property. It is to be valued quite differently. And there is the difficulty of ascertaining who is in occupation - whether it is the contractors or not.
The following general principle emerges from this leading decision:
That premises occupied by one person (in the legal sense), and which comprise one uninterrupted and continuous whole so that they form a single geographical unit, should be regarded as a single rateable hereditament, unless
(a) any part is used for “entirely different purposes”, and
(b) that part is capable of separate occupation.
In Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council v Pollard (VO) (2007 LT RA 49), the issue of whether two parts were used for “wholly or entirely different purposes” on the same site was considered.
The ratepayer owned a 5 hectare site in Urmston in Manchester containing the Flixton County Secondary School for Girls and the Urmston Leisure Centre. In brief, the material considerations to be taken into account included:
whether the two parts were capable of separate occupation
the nominal purpose for which the two parts of the site were used are as a school and as a sports and leisure centre
the activities comprehended in the use of each part of the site
the extent to which parts of the valuation officer’s school hereditament were used by the public and the sports centre was used by the school
the history of the proposal for dual use facilities
how the sports centre was financed
the separate management of the two parts under different statutory powers
the degree of physical separation between the two parts
The most significant considerations were that the sports centre and the all-weather pitch were conceived as dual use facilities and were operated as such, there was a significant degree of interaction between the two parts of the site, and the concept of this interaction was a fundamental part of the development of the sports centre.
Mr George Bartlett QC (president), said:
…it is a question of fact and degree for the decision maker (valuation officer, valuation tribunal or the Lands Tribunal) whether property in one occupation should be entered in the lists as one or more than one hereditament, it follows that there can be no more conclusive tests for determining the issue when it arises
He went on to determine:
It is, of course, the case, that the two parts of the site can readily be identified as a school on the one hand and a sports centre on the other and that they are managed separately under different statutory powers. These, in my view, are important considerations, which argue quite strongly in favour of treating them as separate hereditaments. On balance, however, in the light of all the considerations I think that counsel for the ratepayer council is right in contending that the degree of functional connection between the two parts of the site is such that the whole site is properly to be treated as a single hereditament.
2.6.1 Where only part is used, does this constitute an entirely different purpose?
Perhaps the most obvious example of use for an entirely different purpose is when part of premises is used and part disused, the question then arises as to whether the disused part constitutes a separate hereditament.
Historically the general rule is that occupation of part is occupation of the whole but where a part that is capable of separate occupation is completely unused, notwithstanding the fact that it may have been so used when last occupied, a separate hereditament may exist.
This leading case in this respect is the decision of the Lands Tribunal in Moffat (VO) v Venus Packaging Ltd (1977 LT RVR 199); (243 EG 391).
The Venus Packaging case concerned a factory, wholly owned by the appellant ratepayer company, part of which was unused following the construction of a new manufacturing facility. The property comprised three distinct parts having been built in phases in 1959, 1961 and 1967, of which at the relevant date only the 1967 built (the southernmost) section was occupied, the other parts having been vacated.
It was agreed that the other parts were at the date of proposal unoccupied and capable of separate letting, indeed subsequent to the relevant date the two parts were actually occupied, for a period of three months, by separate companies.
The Lands Tribunal accepted the general rule that occupation of part of a hereditament is occupation of the whole.
However, the Tribunal member Mr Emlyn Jones decided that:
…Quite clearly the unused part is not used for the same purpose as the used part.
As the two parts were clearly defined and the unused part capable of separate letting the property was held to comprise two hereditaments.
The existence of a separate hereditament is a question of fact and degree and VOs should be satisfied that the unused part is capable of separate occupation, that there are no acts of occupation however slight; and that although unoccupied the part has not been reserved for future use.
2.7 The test of Capability of Separate Definition
A hereditament must be capable of identification, i.e. it must be sufficiently defined or ring fenced. Two examples of cases where the occupation has been held not to sufficiently define an occupied are of land so as to constitute a hereditament include; a golf club who had a licence to use an undefined part of a public forest as a golf course, and a market trader with no right to occupy a defined portion of ground for his stalls. The trader having acquired only the right to a given stall in a given row, and not the right to place one on any definite portion of ground; for further reference, the two cases are Peak (Valuation Officer) v Burley Golf Club (1960 All ER 199, 6 RRC 73, CA) and Spear v Bodmin Union ( 49 LJ, MC 69; 43 LT 127; 44 JP 764), respectively.
Part of the test of separate definition is the requirement for property to be capable of separate letting or occupation so as to be considered as a separate hereditament. It is suggested that capability for letting does not necessarily equate with capability for separate occupation: it might be possible to achieve a letting of premises not otherwise capable of separate occupation – the latter is the real test.
In considering whether a property is capable of separate occupation, regard should be had to the accessibility and facilities/services available within and to the property; the Town and County Planning situation should also be ascertained. A consideration of past patterns of occupation may also provide assistance: a relevant factor in the Venus Packaging case.
Although it is permissible when considering if the property is capable of separate occupation to envisage alternative uses, within the constraints of the physical limb of the rebus sic stantibus rule, the possibility of more than minor alterations to the property cannot be considered.
2.8 The Woolway case
The appeal case of Woolway v Mazars ( UKSC 53) concerned Tower Bridge House, an eight-storey office block in St Katherine’s Way, London. Mazars, a firm of chartered accountants, occupied the second and sixth floors of the building under separate leases. These floors were separated by common areas in the building and were entered in the 2005 rating list as separate hereditaments.
In February 2010, Mazars proposed that the VO merge the two entries to form a single hereditament. The VTE agreed that the two entries should be merged. The VO appealed to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) on the grounds that the properties were two separate hereditaments. The Upper Tribunal confirmed that the premises should be treated as one hereditament. The Court of Appeal dismissed the VO’s appeal.
In the VTE an allowance was given for the disability of having the occupation split between two separate floors, (a fragmentation allowance) but on appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) the then President, Mr George Bartlett QC, found that the presence of high speed lifts between the floors effectively removed any inconvenience and therefore no fragmentation allowance was appropriate. He also found that the speed of access between the 2nd and 6th floors together with the fact that the two floors were within the same building and occupied for a common purpose by Mazars, meant that they formed a single hereditament. Probably because the removal of the fragmentation allowance meant Mazars no longer had a financial interest in the outcome of the appeal to the Court of Appeal, the ratepayers did not take part in that appeal or the subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court, but the Court appointed an Advocate of the Court (a barrister to submit opposing arguments to those of the VO) to ensure that the matter was fully tested.
The issue for the Supreme Court to determine was whether the two floors formed one single hereditament or two separate hereditaments. The leading authority on the identification of the hereditament was the Court of Appeal decision in respect of Gilbert v S Hickinbottom and Sons Ltd ( 2 QB 40) and the principal arguments focused on the meaning and application of the tests used in that case; whether the primary test was geographic (that the occupation can all be ringed around on a map without intervening occupations) or a functional test (that the parts were occupied together in the same building and without inconvenience caused by the lack of contiguity).
Since the Gilbert case it has been the practice of VOs to treat contiguous occupations (those that touch each other) as single hereditaments and those that are not contiguous as separate hereditaments unless an ‘essential functional connection’ existed between the parts – that is to say that unless both parts are occupied together they could not properly function according to their character – for example, a golf course divided by a road could not function as a golf course if each part was a separate hereditament. The Supreme Court, as explained earlier did not consider the Gilbert case correctly decided and set out appropriate tests to determine the hereditament bringing English and Welsh law into line with Scottish law.
The Woolway case concerned whether it was correct to assess together two non-contiguous offices floors in a multi-let building. The Supreme Court determined, unanimously, that it was not correct to do so because the primary test was a geographic one and was whether the occupation can be ringed around on a map or plan without any intervening occupations.
In England, The Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018, effectively reverses this aspect of the ruling by requiring hereditaments that meet a new contiguity test to be treated as a single hereditament – see paragraph 2.9 below.
The case did not actually concern adjacent floors, but the judgments of two of the judges (Lords Neuberger and Gill) suggested that such floors should be assessed separately unless they intercommunicated directly (for example by an internal staircase), Lord Sumption clearly regarded intercommunication as important and Lord Toulson agreed with Lords Sumption, Neuberger and Gill. Lord Carnwath said that it was “unobjectionable” that such floors should be assessed together and preferred not to express a firm view. It is clear from the speeches that the court’s view was very much that non-intercommunicating floors should be separately assessed.
Whilst the Supreme Court decision sets out general principles, it is important to remember that determining the extent of a hereditament in any particular case will depend upon the individual circumstances concerned applying the general principles to the particular circumstances.
Following the Chancellor’s 2017 Autumn statement regarding the reversal of the effects of the ‘stair-case tax’, an addition to the definition of hereditament has been madeto S64(3) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.
The amendment defines an additional artificial hereditament classification, for property which is in the same occupation and contiguous to each other either vertically or laterally.
This amendment effectively orders the Valuation Officer to assess together properties that would fall to be individual assessments following the UKSC decision in Mazars. This is ordered because the wording used in the legislative amendment is:
“the hereditaments shall be treated as one hereditament.”
Shall is underlined due to the importance of the word. It is not a neutral word such as may, therefore there is no discretion on the part of the Valuation Officer.
The contiguous properties must also be used by the common occupier for the same purpose.
To be classed as contiguous, some part of a wall, fence, or other means of enclosure of one property must form part of a wall, fence or other means of enclosure of another property in the same occupation.
Ceilings and floors, where directly overhead or below each other, will allow property to be considered as contiguous where the properties are in the same occupation.
A property will still be considered contiguous if there is a service space between the floor and ceiling, control of which remains with the landlord.
Contiguous Empty Property
Only where property which previously qualified as contiguous hereditaments became unoccupied on the same day will the contiguous property in common occupation rules continue to apply to allow one assessment.
So if a tenant who formerly occupied floors 3 - 7 vacated each floor of a 7-storey office block on different days the Landlord would not be eligible to request a single assessment for those floors.
But if notice to quit had been given and they were vacated on the same day the valuation officer could assess together any that were previously contiguous.
Appendix 1a gives examples of the working of the rules in England. These changes affect England only and Appendix 1 gives working examples of the rules in Wales which are unaffected.
Proposals against 2010 List Entries
An amendment to the Non-domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2009 has been made to allow proposals to be made in respect of a 2010 list for a limited period of time by ratepayers who consider their occupation qualified under the amended S.64 provisions to be merged into a single hereditament.