Empty Rates are complex, with rules potentially allowing properties to be valued not as they are, but as they could be or once were.
At Altus Group we are constantly thinking about new ways to make old rules work better. We refine interpretations of case law and statute, dealing with hundreds of complex cases every year, constantly modifying our approach to empty rates.
We are persistent and innovative, and most importantly we get results.
Every liability needs its own plan. We will work closely with you to ensure that all opportunities to ensure liability is mitigated where it should be. We get involved as early in a scheme’s development as possible, using our knowledge and experience to suggest modifications to proposed works or change the tactic and so assist your case.
Our dedicated Empty Rates Specialist Team has been established for over 25 years. During that time we have acted for and continue to advise some of the biggest, brightest and most exciting developers, property companies and funds.
Some common areas where empty rates are improperly charged, or where challenges are rejected, are:
New Properties. The rateable value (RV) is often first entered into the rating list incorrectly. A speculative building, finished to practical completion, is not complete for rating purposes unless the billing authority has served a completion notice. Even when served, many notices are found to be invalid.
Properties undergoing alteration / improvement. The RV should be deleted but Valuation Officers often refuse. Sometimes they will appease an owner by reducing the RV to £0. This removes liability but it can mean that when work is completed the RV is resurrected and liability recommences sooner than it should.
Properties in disrepair or damaged. The effect that disrepair has on value is often ignored unless it can be shown that it would be uneconomic to do the repair work. The correct approach is to consider the actual property and its real marketability.
Occupation prohibited by law (OPBL). Repair which needs to be done to enable lawful occupation might, quite correctly, be ignored under the economic test but it should not be disregarded by the billing authority.
Temporary Occupation. To be entitled to a three or six month statutory exemption a ratepayer must show that the property has been rateably occupied for a period of not less than six weeks. We help clients to find valid occupiers and manage the whole process to ensure the owner and the property are fully protected.