How can I reduce my business rates?

I have just received my 2005 draft Rating List assessment and it has gone up substantially. I have had numerous surveying companies contacting me saying that they can reduce my rateable value. What should I do?

A. Nigel Katsepth of LSM Partners writes:

Be wary of companies guaranteeing to reduce your business rates. I was recently asked by a client to review both its 2000 and 2005 Rating List assessments. The company had received numerous letters and calls from several businesses offering to reduce its assessment. A number had visited the premises and offered to undertake an appeal against the 2005 assessment.

My response was to question whether the Valuation Office (VO) had actually visited the company since it had taken over the property. There hadn’t been an inspection and it was clear alterations to the building hadn’t been included in the valuation.

The company had acquired the building as an old industrial property in 2003 and carried out substantial structural alterations to convert the premises to a food production facility. It was evident that both the current and revaluation assessments were too low, so the real decision was to whether to approach the VO to bring the assessment up to date and thereby qualify for any transitional relief or leave the assessment alone and risk the VO increasing it at a later date.

If an appeal had been lodged against the revaluation assessment, it is likely the company would have faced a considerable hike in its rate. This under the proposed changes in legislation can be backdated to April 1 2005. I suggest that advice is taken from wellestablished rating advisers who take on board the whole situation. Those that make promises of reducing rate bills without having had any prior knowledge of your property portfolio should be avoided.


(will not be published)