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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I reduce my rates liability?

A. There are several ways to reduce your rates liability. The most common method is to challenge your Rateable Value assessment – through Check Challenge Appeal in England, and its equivalent in other parts of the UK. If successful, you could be entitled to backdated refunds over several years. We can advise you on the complex rules covering such challenges: further information can be found here.

Q. Do I have to pay rates whilst my property is vacant?

A. Yes. However, there are opportunities to apply for rates relief when a property is first wholly vacant or part vacant. Furthermore, certain types of property are exempt from empty property rates liability and, if you are likely to hold a vacant property for a significant period, there are also strategies to mitigate the rates liability. Advice on how to minimise your empty property rates liability can be found here.

Q. My property is impacted by road works/construction works – is there anything I can do?

A. This is called a “material change of circumstance” and it should be possible to seek a reduction of your Rateable Value assessment (and hence rates liability) for the duration of the works. Further information can be found here.

Q. I am having works done to my property – do I still have to pay rates?

A. There might be an opportunity to seek a reduced liability whilst you are undertaking works to your property, depending upon the extent of the works being undertaken. Further information can be found here.

Q. I occupy multiple areas within a property – can I request a single rates bill?

A. You can request a single Rateable Value assessment so long as certain criteria are met. We can advise you on these criteria, and on how to merge multiple Rateable Value assessments.

Q. I only occupy part of my property – do I still have to pay rates?

A. You must pay rates when you occupy any part of your property. However, there may be an opportunity to seek rates relief for parts of the property that are vacant, providing you meet certain criteria. We can provide expert advice on relief applications: further information can be found here.

Q. My rates liability has recently increased. What can I do about it?

A. A rates liability increase linked to a new rate demand effective from 1 April is likely to be due to an increase in rates multiplier or the effects of transition. Cushman & Wakefield can advise on the accuracy of this demand from the local council: further information can be found here.

Alternatively, the increase in rates liability might be due to a change in your Rateable Value assessment. We can advise you on your right to dispute such changes: further information can be found here.

Q. I am due to take occupation of a newly built property. When will I have to start paying rates?

A. The rules relating to the commencement of rates liability for a newly constructed property are complex. A Completion Notice may be served on the owner or developer prior to completion with a deemed liability start date: however, if no Completion Notice has been served, the Rateable Value assessment for a new property can only exist from the date of occupation. (The relevant date here may also be a matter of contention, between the date that possession commenced and the date of commencement or completion of fit-out works.)

You might also be entitled to rates relief for 12 months if the property is in Scotland.

Cushman & Wakefield is happy to provide expert advice on all the above matters: further information can be found here.

Q. I have changed the use of my property – what should I do?

A. You can request that the Valuation Office, Assessors or Land & Property Services revalue your property. However, it is important that you seek advice prior to doing so as it could result in your Rateable Value assessment (and therefore your rates liability) increasing.

Q. I have a portfolio of properties. How do I ensure that my rates liability is as low as possible?

A. We recommend conducting a review of your Rateable Value assessments. Where appropriate, a strategy to reduce the value of your assessments (and hence your rates liability) can then be devised. Further information can be found here.

Q. I receive many rate bills and I am unsure whether they are correct. Can you help?

A. Yes. We have a team dedicated to managing the billing process and auditing rates liability. Further information can be found here.


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If you would like to find out more about our specific expertise, or discover how we could work with your company, please contact a member of our team – we’d be delighted to hear from you.