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WHR Property Consultants LLP

Business Rates Advice

WHR specialises in the provision of rating advice and has considerable experience throughout the country acting on behalf of owners and occupiers. We pride ourselves on being at the leading edge in the provision of advice, solving and providing solutions to our clients' rating issues. We represent our clients in discussions with the Valuation Office, Billing Authorities and where required in court as may be appropriate.

On receiving instructions from our clients, we will meet with them, inspect the property and thereafter, design and implement a solution to reduce our clients' liability. Rates are a tax that are paid by the occupier of a property or, in the case of empty properties, the company entitled to occupy the property. Each property is assessed to its Rateable Value which, broadly speaking, represents the rent that would have been paid for the property on 1st April 2008. These values came into effect on 1st April 2010 and are used to calculate the liability attributable to individual properties.

Based upon these values, Billing Authorities will send our rate demands on an annual basis. These assessments may be challenged at any time or following a change to the property or the locality. Examples of these would include the demolition of part of the property, building works that are affecting the property either internally or externally, or other factors such as roadworks, bypass works, that affect the notional rent that we must assume.

Rating Service

The range of advice that we provide may be categorised as follows:-

  • Advice upon the Rateable Value attributable to individual properties.
  • Lodging appeals against individual assessments and negotiating with the Valuation Office.
  • Representing clients before the Valuation Tribunal and Lands Tribunal where appropriate.
  • Negotiating refunds with the Billing Authority.
  • Providing budgetary advice in relation to annual liabilities or in the case of a proposed new build, the potential liability that will be attributable to it.
  • Checking rate demands and advising upon their payment.
  • Advice upon the payment of empty rates and the design of strategies to reduce the liability.
  • Advice upon Completion Notices for rating purposes.

WHR provide advice to occupiers and owners alike. Owners of the property are entitled to make appeals even where they are not in occupation and the property may be subject to tenancy.

Empty Rates

WHR are acknowledged as one of the leading advisors in the field of empty rate mitigation. WHR advised in the leading High Court Case of Makro Self Service Wholesalers Limited v Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council that considered a ratepayer’s right to manage its empty rate liability.

Following a change to the legislation, full rates are now payable in relation to empty properties. There are certain exemptions that may be applied and strategies that may be available to reduce in part or entirely the clients' liability.

Following the vacation of a property, in the case of an industrial or storage property, 6 months relief is allowed and thereafter, full rates become payable. In the case of all other properties, 3 months relief is allowed following which full rates become payable unless an exemption is applicable. Depending upon the type of property and its condition a complete exemption may apply.

It should be possible to design a strategy to reduce an empty rate liability between 77% and 65% depending upon the property involved.

CASE STUDIES

Makro Self Service Wholesalers Limited

Designing and engineering a strategy of empty rate mitigation

Client: Makro Self Service Wholesalers Limited
Description: WHR advised Makro Self Service Wholesalers Limited upon a strategy to manage their empty rate liability. The strategy was tested in the High Court and has become the benchmark by which Billing Authorities and ratepayers are able to mitigate their liability.

Acquisition Service

Introduction of the smoking ban

Client: Gala Bingo Limited
Description: WHR agreed the principle with the Valuation Office Agency that the introduction of the smoking ban, which was considered to be a legal matter and which could not be taken into account, could in fact be considered as a material change of circumstance leading to reductions across their portfolio of 22.5% of the Rateable Value leading to substantial savings.

Council Tax Completion Notices

Council Tax Completion Notices

Client: Derwent Holdings Limited
DESCRIPTION: WHR identified that Completion Notices served by the Billing Authority in respect of a number of residential properties were invalid. Despite the fact that appeals had not been made against the Completion Notices, the Valuation Office was persuaded that they could not rely upon them. Each assessment was withdrawn leading to 8 years savings in council tax payments.

Advice in the Magistrates Court in respect of Billing Authority’s refusal to allow empty rate relief

Advice in the Magistrates Court in respect of Billing Authority’s refusal to allow empty rate relief

Client: Langtree
Description: WHR were instructed to advise in the Magistrates Court, subsequently instructing counsel, to advise upon and defend the client’s non-payment of rates following the refusal of the Billing Authority to allow empty rate relief. The Magistrates Court found in favour of the ratepayer.

The Met Quarter, Liverpool

The Met Quarter, Liverpool

Client: Columbus Capital
Description: Instructed by Columbus Capital, WHR appealed the year 2010 Rateable Values within the centre.  WHR agreed a reduction of the basis of assessment throughout the centre. Further allowances were negotiated to reflect the increased void levels and drop in footfall.  The total combined Rateable Value was reduced from £3.206m to £2.682m providing savings for both occupiers and the landlord in the order of £1.6m.

The Wheatsheaf Centre, Rochdale

The Wheatsheaf Centre, Rochdale

Client: Beddell Corporate Trustees
Description: On the instruction of the administrator WHR appealed each of the assessments within the centre.  WHR agreed a revised basis of assessment with effect from 1st April 2010.  Further appeals were made to reflect the high void levels within the centre. Agreement to reduce the assessments from 1st April 2010 were agreed in two stages, providing a total reduction in Rateable Value from £1.7m to £1.03m providing savings throughout the centre in the order of £1.2m.