Rates on New Buildings

A recent piece of case law on the rating list entries for new build schemes is something that developers particularly should be taking note of.  With some real potential now for one or two speculative schemes coming ‘out of the ground, it is a worthy case to read about.

Aviva Investors and PPG Southern have just won a landmark rating appeal against the Valuation Office.  The case determined that an empty rates liability cannot be applied on a new building unless a valid completion notice has been served or that the property is available for immediate occupation.

The case involved four class B8 warehouse units which were entered in the 2005 rating list after practical completion but, significantly, before occupation or fitting out.  This case was the ‘bridgehead’ for a raft of similar appeals on the same basis.

With the test for being liable on rates for new builds now established as ‘once being deemed legally ready for occupation’ this gives some flexibility for companies procuring new build projects when there are doubts over when ‘beneficial occupation’ will be possible.

As rating consultants it is our job to advise on the key features that need to be met for premises to meet the test. There is one potential threat to this if a local authority issues a completion notice stating the premises are to be completed within a few months.

For advice on rating matters the Rating Team at Harris Lamb can help and advise.