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Business rate appeal Scottish high street at dusk

Scottish retail landlords and businesses are being urged to secure fair rateable values as the appeals deadline looms at the end of September.

Rating experts at Colliers International, the global commercial real estate agency and consultancy, say that following a revaluation that saw double-digit rate hikes in some areas and sectors, it has never been more important for retail landlords and tenants in Scotland to ensure the rateable value placed on their property is accurate from the outset.

“Given the extremely restrictive nature of mid-valuation roll appeals in Scotland, ratepayers have a relatively short opportunity to submit a revaluation appeal and dispute any or all aspects of the valuation that were set from 1st April 2017,” says Louise Daly, associate director of rating at Colliers International in Scotland. “They now have less than a month remaining to do so.”

Daly continues, “Ratepayers can of course submit their own revaluation appeals within the deadline of 30 September 2017, or they can seek representation to ensure that they are not put at any disadvantage given the complexities of complying with the current appeal system.”

John Webber, head of rating at Colliers, adds, “Reform of some aspects of the business rates system in Scotland is expected to be soon, including a separate move from Valuation Appeal Committees to a Tribunal system.

“Ratepayers, therefore, need to stay alert to changes as they happen and ensure that their interests are protected. Lodging appeals now will ensure that any potential validity issues can be resolved- but only just in time. Businesses really cannot afford to delay further.”

Following the Rating Revaluation of 1 April 2017, many retail businesses have suffered large increases in their business rates.

Unlike the rest of the UK, they were given just six months to appeal.

Moreover, despite the recent recommendations made by the Barclay Review panel to move towards a three-yearly revaluation cycle with a ‘tone date’ one year prior to the beginning of the revaluation, nothing has been agreed by the Government to date.

Colliers believes retailers are likely to face another five-yearly valuation cycle at present.

The situation in Scotland is even more precarious because the Barclay Review panel did not make any recommendations in respect of the Material Change of Circumstance (MCC) issue north of the border.

In Scotland, MCC appeals are extremely limited in their scope – a result of High Court decisions made during the period of the 2010 Scottish revaluation cycle. This has made the present appeal system in Scotland much less competitive for ratepayers than in England.

“Even three-yearly valuation cycles would not go far enough to address specific, localised issues, which in England would have scope for reduction through an MCC appeal,” continues Webber. “Retail businesses therefore must not delay. Missing the boat now would be both lengthy and costly”.

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