Missing Assessments: Top 5 reasons properties are missed off or undervalued on the Rating List

With over 1.9 million non-domestic rateable properties in England and nearly 1,000 different classification of property types on the local list compiled by the Valuation Office, it is a huge undertaking to make sure every property is not only included, but valued correctly.

Missing AssessmentsWith Billing Authorities now granted the power to retain varying percentages of the rates income they collect, there are significant financial gains to be made by identifying missing assessments or where properties may have been undervalued in their locality.

This is no easy task and requires specialist skills and expertise with many appointing valuation experts to carry out this activity on their behalf. At Wilks Head and Eve we have been providing this service to clients for over six years and have some insights to offer on the top five reasons missing assessments occur or properties are undervalued on the Valuation Offices’ Rating List.

1. Agricultural land diversification
Under the Local Government Finance Act 1988, agricultural premises remain exempt from paying business rates. However there are an increasing number of agricultural properties that now have vehicle workshops and in some cases large warehouse operations and so should be liable to pay rates. Using a number of internal databases, aerial photography and internal expertise, we have been able to quite quickly identify these types of missing assessments, assess whether the property now qualifies as being rateable, and calculate its rateable value. It is surprising to see the vast amount of properties which are not in the list of this nature.

2. Nominal Rateable Values which are no longer accurate
Some assessments on the ratings list may have been deleted, valued at zero, or have a very low value attributed to them – a nominal rateable value. There are a number of reasons for this, an example being a ratepayer may have applied for planning permission to change the property to a ‘residential status’ and a few years later the work required to do this has not taken place, meaning the property should be fully rateable. As experienced rating surveyors we know the circumstances where these assessments should be at this level or not and can often challenge these decisions direct with the Valuation Office. This typically results in missing assessments being reinstated and, in some cases, increasing the rateable value as well as enabling Billing Authorities to backdate bills.

3. Incorrect Survey Data
As many of you will know, the Valuation Office conduct valuations for each property on the ratings list which includes survey data. It is quite often the case with survey data that there are items within the valuation which are either only meant to be for a short period of time or where there has been a change that would lead to an increase in rateable value. We work with Billing Authorities and identify on their behalf the parts of the valuations which are incorrect. As ratings experts we know what to look for and have a key set of criteria which quickly identifies those valuations requiring a second look.

4. New Case Law, Rulings and Decisions
Working with Rating Surveyors that have attended Valuation Tribunal, Upper Tribunal and Lands Tribunal means our customers are guaranteed to have professionals with extensive experience in case law. This means that when decisions are made our team can review these and any impact that it might have on Rateable Value. In some cases, it can have far-reaching implications meaning a loss in rateable value which will impact annual returns on NNDR 1 and NNDR 3 forms. In other circumstances it could lead to assessments being re-valued and an increase in rateable value. With the right valuation team in place, we can review, identify and action these decisions appropriately on behalf of the Billing Authority. It also means that we will take all necessary steps to ensure that where we believe a property to be rateable that we will take action and this is evident from our recent attendance at Valuation Tribunal. Working on behalf of a Billing Authority, we identified a missing heliport and having identified a similar proposal which was permissible on the 2010 rating list, it was agreed by the Valuation Tribunal that this missing assessment should be admitted to the list, the full decision in this case can be read here >

5. Property classes known to have missing assessments from the list
There are a number of property classes which over the years we have identified are missing from the Rating List. Using a number of tools, we are able to identify these missing assessments and using available databases combined with overlaying/mapping techniques these types of properties can be easily identified. These typically tend to be historical missing assessments but newer ones can also be identified where they are not already being worked on by an internal team.  Typically we have been able to increase a Billing Authorities overall rateable value by between 3-5% from the work undertaken by us, which for most Authorities represents an increase in millions of pounds in yield.

This is just a taster of the types of insights a Billing Authority can benefit from, when working with Wilks Head and Eve, if you want to find out more about our services please contact soneill@wilks-head.co.uk or call 0207 637 8471.