Section 670: moorings
This publication is intended for Valuation Officers. It may contain links to internal resources that are not available through this version.
Moorings are subject to co-ordination for the current rating list as outlined in the relevant Practice Note.
This section is concerned with the general principles to be adopted in the rating and valuation of moorings.
Moorings are defined in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary as: * “the rope, chain etc by which a floating object is made fast; also the object to which it is moored; * the place where a vessel can be moored”.
There are many types of fixture to which a line may be attached, thereby providing the essentials of a fixed mooring and examples include:
a. quay or wharf; b. pier, jetty or other waterside structure or building; c. post or pile driven into ground; d. chain marked by a buoy, attached at its lower end to a weight resting or embedded in the bed of the water; e. floating dock or pontoon.
3. Rateability of moorings
3.1 Domestic property
Moorings can be domestic property as defined by Section 66(4) of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (LGFA 1988). “A mooring is domestic property if it is occupied by a boat which is the sole or main residence of an individual (construing sole or main residence in accordance with section 2 above).”
Additionally Section 66(1)(b) LGFA 1988 permits a mooring to be construed as an “appurtenance belonging to or enjoyed with” property falling within Section 66 1(a).
For guidance as to what is an appurtenance see Rating Manual section 3 part 1 paragraph 4
Under Section 66(5) of LGFA 1988 an unoccupied property shall be treated as domestic property if, when next in use, it will be domestic. Moorings previously treated as domestic property should continue to be treated as such during a period when they are unoccupied if the Listing Officer is satisfied that, when next in use, the mooring will be domestic.
For the application of Council Tax to moorings which are domestic property see the Council Tax Manual Practice Note 7.
3.2 Beyond low water mark
Where moorings are situated beyond low water mark, and hence outside the boundary of a parish, they are not rateable unless:
(i) they have been brought within a parish by a Special Act authorising their laying down;
(ii) the Rating Authority has extended its boundary by special Act;
(iii) attached to an accretion (natural or artificial) which is by virtue of Section 72(1) Local Government Act 1972 annexed to and incorporated with the adjoining parish or community.
The question of whether or not there is an accretion may cause difficulty.
A pier consisting of a wooden deck resting on iron piles has been held not to be an accretion from the sea (Blackpool Pier Co v Fylde Union 1887), although a stone jetty may well be depending upon the particular facts.
Cases involving this provision should be referred to CEO Local Taxation via the Technical Adviser.
3.3 Swinging Moorings
The LGFA 1988 gives clear definitions of exempt moorings, known as swinging moorings in Schedule 5 para 18:
(i) used or intended to be used by a boat or ship; and
(ii) equipped only with a buoy attached to an anchor, weight or other device which:
a. rests on or in the bed of the sea or any river or other water when in use; and
b. is designed to be raised from that bed from time to time.
Obviously it is highly impractical for VOs to inspect moorings in order to ascertain whether or not they are “resting” on a bed, or are “designed to be raised from that bed from time to time”. Accordingly, in the absence of specific information, VOs should assume moorings for leisure craft equipped only with a buoy attached to a weight are exempt, unless and until they have clear evidence that the weight is firmly embedded in the sea or river bed, (ie. set, screwed or driven to a minimum depth of several feet and not capable of being weighed in the normal way by the boat attached thereto), or that the weight is not capable of being taken up at the end of each or every other season for repair, maintenance or storage.
The design of a mooring is a matter of fact and the onus of proof should be regarded as on the person or body alleging the mooring to be rateable.
Conversely, VOs should regard moorings, equipped only with a buoy attached to a weight but used by commercial craft, as rateable, unless and until they have clear evidence that the mooring falls within the LGFA 1988 Schedule 5 para 18. In these cases the onus of proof should be regarded as on the person or body alleging the mooring to be exempt.
If difficulties of interpretation arise advice should be sought from the Technical Adviser.
3.4 Trinity House
If a mooring comprises a buoy belonging to, or occupied by, Trinity House, it is exempt under LGFA 1988 Schedule 5 para 12.
3.5 Case Law
If a mooring cannot be identified as exempt then it will be rateable, provided the necessary ingredients of rateable occupation are satisfied.
The authority for this proposition is Cory v Bristow 1877 (House of Lords) in which Cory were held to be in rateable occupation of moorings comprising fluke anchors and large stones embedded in holes dredged to a depth of some seven feet and then filled with ballast, and fan shaped screws driven to a depth of ten feet. The moorings thus formed were as permanent a mooring as it was possible to place in the river and it was quite impossible for the derrick using them to lift them in the ordinary way.
This case provides an example of the type of mooring which has for many years been rateable and which remains so. Other cases of more recent origin (both English and Scottish), dealing with the occupation of different and less permanent moorings, no longer afford any assistance in view of the exemption now granted by Schedule 5 para 18 LGFA 1988. (See section 3.3 above)
4. Plant and Machinery
The hereditament will comprise the precise area of land (whether covered with water or not) to which the root of the mooring is actually attached, together in certain circumstances with the “mooring gear” itself (ie piles, weights, chains, all of which are not referred to in the Plant and Machinery Regulations, and the Class 4 Table 3 items).
The mooring gear will be rateable if: a. it may be described as “plant” and can be located within the Plant and Machinery Regulations.
“Plant” has been described :
“…..in its ordinary sense, [plant] includes whatever apparatus is used by a business man for carrying on his business – not his stock in trade which he buys or makes for sale; but all goods and chattels, fixed or moveable, live or dead, which he keeps for permanent employment in his business.” (Yarmouth v France 1887, cited in J Lyons and Co Limited v Attorney General 1944)
The term does not include …. the place on which the business is carried on; or a. it may not be described as plant but has for the time being become part of the land.
(In this respect the principles are restated in British Bakeries Limited v Gudgion (VO) (1969 RA 465) “there are things which, though they may not be physically attached or may be removable without damage to themselves or the freehold, are so placed on the premises and so essential to their use for the purpose for which they are used and so much intended to be used with them for that purpose that they have practically become for the time being part of the premises.”)
The rateability of mooring gear is not without difficulty, but in the case of individual moorings used for recreational purposes it is considered that the gear will not constitute plant and will therefore be rateable only if it has become part of the land. In the case of commercial and recreational moorings assessed in groups, it might be argued that the gear is apparatus used in carrying on a business, and if such an argument is correct it will only be rateable if found in the Plant and Machinery Regulations.
Class 4 Table 3 items, subject to the Regulations’ qualifications Class 4 (a) and (b) include :
Floating pontoons with any bridges or gangways not of a temporary nature used in connection with such pontoons. Foundations, settings, fixed gantries, supports, walkways, stairways, handrails, catwalks, stages, staithes and platforms.
difficulty should be referred to the Technical Adviser.
5. Occupation of the hereditament
5.1 The Hereditament
The hereditament may comprise an individual mooring. Alternatively it may comprise several moorings in circumstances in which the owner is in paramount control, or in circumstances in which VOs have used their discretion to create a single hereditament (see para 5.3).
More particularly the hereditament will comprise the precise area of land (whether covered with water or not) to which the root of the mooring is actually attached, together in certain circumstances with the “mooring gear” itself (ie piles, weights, chains, pontoons etc).
5.2 Evidence of Rateable Occupation
In some cases where there is prima facie evidence of rateable occupation it may not be easy to discern in whom that occupation lies, and accordingly what the correct unit(s) of assessment should be. More than one person may exercise rights in respect of the same property - a Yacht Club for example may lay down moorings which are used by independent boat owners - and investigation will be necessary to determine whose occupation is paramount.
(In the example given it may be the Yacht Club that is in control of the moorings, it may be the individual boat owners, or it may be a mixture.)
Paramount occupation is essentially a question of fact and it is important that as much information as possible is obtained. Guidance as to the general principles to be observed are to be found in RM 4:2 and the House of Lords decision in Westminster Council v Southern Rail Co (1936) (dealt with in Ryde on Rating and the Community Charge C (132) et seq).
In certain cases arguments have been put that occupation is not exclusive because licences are not stated to be exclusive and/or contain clauses requiring moorings to be vacated upon various happenings. What is important however are the facts of the case. Occupation will be exclusive if the character of the occupation is such that it does in fact exclude others from using the land in the same way (and it doesn’t matter that in some remote circumstances another person might also use the land). Unless there is substantial interference with the enjoyment of the land by the occupant for his own particular purposes that occupation will be sufficiently exclusive for the purpose of rating.
5.3 Multiple Moorings
Where on any land there are two or more moorings which – a. are owned by the same person, b. are not domestic property, and c. are separately occupied, or available for separate occupation, by persons other than that person,
a Valuation Officer may determine that, for the purposes of the compilation or alteration of a local non-domestic Rating List, all or any of the moorings, or all or any of them together with any adjacent moorings or land owned and occupied by that person, shall be treated as one hereditament. (The Non-Domestic Rating (Multiple Moorings) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/557).)
The reference to owner enables a VO to include within a single assessment all moorings within one ownership whether occupied or not at the time of valuation. Consequently there will be no need to adjust valuations as moorings are let or become vacant.
The word “adjacent” should be construed narrowly and in the context of the provision taken to refer to moorings and/or land which are either contiguous or separated only by a footpath or some other narrow strip of land in another ownership.
5.4 Definition of owner
The owner for the purposes of SI 1992/557 is defined in para 2(2) - Part 1, Schedule 10, Local Government Finance Act 1992 as “the person who (if the mooring is let) is entitled to receive rent, whether on his own account or as agent or trustee for any other person, or (if the mooring is not let) would be so entitled if the mooring were let, and ‘owned’ shall be construed accordingly.”
5.5 Canal Hereditaments
If a mooring is part of a canal hereditament in the paramount control of the British Waterways Board it will be included in the Central Rating List. There are separate Regulations governing the 1990, 1995 and 2000 lists. VOs will find detailed advice at Rating Manual section 2 part 2
Moorings which are so let out as to be capable of a separate assessment, will not be canal hereditaments but will be rateable in the Local Rating List in the normal way. Such moorings may also be treated as multiple moorings in one single hereditament where appropriate. However, in such cases the deemed single hereditament, where in the occupation of the British Waterways Board, will fall within the description of that person’s Central Rating List hereditament, and should not be entered in the Local Rating List. Valuation Officers should bear this in mind when deciding whether or not it is appropriate to exercise their powers under SI 1992/557 in these circumstances.
5.6 Docks and harbours
Docks and harbours are dealt with in detail in Rating Manual: section 6 part 3 - section 350.
Hereditaments which consist of or include dock or harbour undertakings carried on under the authority of any enactment are known as statutory docks or harbours. All but the smallest of these are treated as being in the occupation of a single, statutorily defined hereditament. The rateable values of the largest of these are determined by reference to a statutory formula based upon a percentage of certain categories of income and expenditure.
Any part of the dock or harbour undertaking’s property occupied by some other person under the terms of a letting or licence for more than a transient period, and where the occupation is exclusive for the purposes of the occupier, should be the subject of a separate assessment.
Where there are individual moorings which are treated in this manner they may be amalgamated into a single assessment under SI 1992/557 but this should still be separate from the statutory dock or harbour hereditament. If the moorings do not fall to be so treated they will of course remain in the statutory dock or harbour assessment.
Where a dock or harbour is not subject to the statutory basis for determining the extent of the dock hereditament and the VO decides to use his discretion under SI 1992/557 to merge otherwise separately rateable moorings these may be included in the same assessment as adjacent moorings or land owned and occupied by the owner of the merged moorings (but see para 6.4 below).
6.1 Individual Moorings
Many individual moorings are let and sufficient rental evidence should be available to form a suitable basis of assessment. Rents may or may not include an amount for mooring gear. Adjustments may need to be made dependent upon the facts and whether or not the gear forms part of the hereditament.
Any craft licence fees payable in addition to pure mooring fees (eg. canal facilities) should not be regarded as rent whether a particular vessel moves about a waterway or not.
6.2 Groups of Moorings
To a lesser extent rents also exist for groups of moorings and where sufficient evidence is available such rents, suitably adjusted, should again be used as a basis for the assessment of those groups forming one hereditament (whether under the SI 1992/557 or otherwise).
Where evidence of group lettings is scant it will be necessary to relate the assessment of such moorings to the levels appropriate to individual hereditaments. Dependent on the facts an allowance for voids may be necessary (particularly when vacant moorings have been included within SI 1992/557). In addition it may also be necessary to allow for an inducement which a tenant might require before taking a group of moorings as compared with an individual let, but the extent of any such inducement will depend upon the individual surrounding facts. The number of moorings involved, the type of person or body likely to be interested in taking the tenancy and, not least, any rental evidence (however scant) will be important.
It is anticipated that the apportioned rateable value of a mooring forming part of a group assessment will in most cases either be equal to, or more likely less than, its rateable value as a single hereditament.
6.3 Groups containing Domestic Moorings
SI 1992/557 refers specifically to moorings which are not domestic property. Any moorings in the group which are in separate rateable occupation but are domestic will not be included in the combined hereditament, which will be wholly non-domestic unless the circumstances outlined below apply.
Where non-domestic moorings are to be merged, adjacent moorings in the same ownership will be included in the hereditament.
If any of such adjacent moorings are domestic they will be included in the combined hereditament which will be a composite and (part) should be included in the description. If such moorings are domestic all year round their value will be left out of account.
If the proportion of domestic/non-domestic adjacent moorings is likely to fluctuate within the year it will be necessary to reflect this when arriving at the value reasonably attributable to the non-domestic use of property in accordance with para 2(1A) Schedule 6, LGFA 1988.
6.4 Docks and Harbours
If the VO decides to include moorings to which SI 1992/557 has been applied in the overall assessment for a non-statutory dock or harbour undertaking, the valuation should take account of the requirement to notify the owner of the composition of the merged hereditament and the value apportioned to the moorings (see para 7.5 below).
7. Preparation and Service of Notices
Generally the instructions in RM 2:1 apply. There may however be special problems with hereditaments outside SI 1992/557, and there are additional procedural points to be noted for hereditaments within the scope of this SI.
7.2 Hereditaments to which SI 1992 No 557 has not been applied
For hereditaments outside the SI, there may be particular problems where there is uncertainty as to the identity of the rateable occupier. In some cases for example it will not be easy to tell whether each boat owner is in rateable occupation of his respective mooring or whether control still remains with the owner (eg. a Sailing Club). Enquiries may reveal facts upon which a decision can be reached, but where there is still doubt copies of notice should be served upon all possible rateable occupiers.
Where separate assessments are considered appropriate but normal methods of service are for obvious reasons not feasible, and home addresses of individual boat owners are unknown, then advice should be sought from the Technical Adviser.
The description in the Rating List should be “mooring(s)” or “land used for mooring(s)”.
7.3 Hereditaments created under SI 1992 No 557 - VO Notices
For the purposes of any Valuation Officer alteration the owner is to be treated as the ratepayer of the SI 1992/557 hereditament and the notice should be served upon him or her. No copies should be served on the occupiers of the individual moorings.
As the owner has been taken to be occupier, no other occupier has status to make an IPP.
7.4 Deletion of superseded entry
Where a VO has used the discretion to determine a single hereditament, any item comprised in that hereditament but already separately entered in the Rating List may be deleted from the List, but a notice must be issued (this event not being one of the specified instances when a notice can be dispensed with). This notice must be served on the ratepayer of the deleted hereditament. The deletion shall have effect from the same date as the alteration of the List to include the single hereditament.
7.5 Notification by VO to owner of composition of merged hereditament and value apportioned to moorings
Where a VO has used their discretion to fix a single hereditament, the owner of the relevant hereditament should be supplied with the following within 28 days of the date on which the List was compiled or altered:
a. a copy of the information shown in the list in respect of the relevant hereditament; and b. if it is not apparent from the information provided a statement of the number of moorings which are not domestic property and which comprise or are included in the relevant hereditament; and c. a statement of the amount of the part of the rateable value of the relevant hereditament which, in the opinion of the Valuation Officer, is attributable to those moorings.
The notice should take the form of a clear, concise letter identifying the site by use of the description and address contained in the VON, and might usefully be sent together with it. The “amount of the part of the rateable value” should be an actual rateable value figure and not a percentage. But only an aggregate figure is required not the value of each mooring. If requested by a person, who, but for the VO’s decision would have been the rateable occupier of an individual mooring the VO must supply that person with the same information supplied to the owner (SI 1992/557 Reg 5).