Following on from the 2017 Rating Revaluation, the Government have radically revised the business rates appeal process as from 1st April, 2017 and introduced a new three-stage system, Check Challenge Appeal (CCA). The new system has been fraught with problems over the last few weeks as the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), ratepayers and their agents have endeavoured to engage with an unnecessarily complex, burdensome and potentially protracted new scheme which appears to have as its sole objective the discouraging of business ratepayers from challenging their new 2017 rateable values.
Of particular concern is the extra work being imposed upon ratepayers before they can seek assistance from an agent.
The new stepped approach is as follows –
1.1 Before a ratepayer and their agent can access the full valuation information relating to the rateable value for their property, the ratepayer must first register to use the VOA CCA online service.
1.2 This involves creating an account with the Government Gateway online service and two main steps for the ratepayer. Firstly, the ratepayer’s company needs to create an organisation Government Gateway ID. Secondly, the ratepayer’s contact is obliged to verify their identity and create a personal record with proof of ID being required, (UK passport, P60 or PAYE details).
1.3 The ratepayer is then required to link their Gateway account to their premises as shown within the VOA website and providing a copy of the current rates bill. Each of the ratepayer’s properties must be linked separately.
1.4 Once the ratepayer has registered as above, a “dashboard” home page will enable properties to be managed, further properties to be linked and at that stage only, the ratepayer can appoint an agent. To complete the appointment, the ratepayer will need the agent’s unique registration code.
2.1 Having registered for CCA, the next phase of the appeal process involves checking the factual information with regards to the subject property. Again this is completed online and the ratepayer/agent must have full survey information available whilst carrying out the “check” as the information cannot be changed once submitted.
2.2 The VOA will then review the suggested changes and request evidence to support those changes, for example, plans, leases and photographs. The VOA have a maximum of 12 months to consider the information supplied and to decide as to whether they accept the alterations being proposed by the ratepayer.
3.1 Once the VOA have issued their Check decision, or 12 months have elapsed since the ratepayer’s Check submission, the rateable value can be challenged in valuation terms by the ratepayer submitting the appropriate form with supporting evidence and statements, which must include the rent details for the subject property, the specific grounds for making the challenge and a fully supported revised rateable value.
3.2 The Challenge must be made within 4 months of the VOA Check decision.
3.3 The supporting documents for the Challenge should include comparable rental evidence, any relevant case law and a fully argued submission. Additional evidence will only be permitted at later stages during the appeal process in “exceptional circumstances”.
3.4 Once the full Challenge submission has been made by the ratepayer, the VOA have a maximum of 18 months to consider the Challenge and if appropriate engage in negotiations, finally providing their evidence and thereafter issuing their Challenge decision.
4.1 If the ratepayer does not agree with the VOA Challenge decision, an appeal can be made to the Valuation Tribunal. The appeal must be made within four months of the Challenge decision.
4.2 As at the date of this note, the Valuation Tribunal for England has yet to publish their procedures for appeals against the 2017 Rating List, but it is anticipated that the right to appeal will be limited to “certain circumstances” and will involve lodging a fee with the Tribunal which will only be recoverable if the appeal is “successful”.
Further information to follow.
Dated 27th June, 2017