Monday, 13 September 2010
This list of explanations attempts to de-mystify some of the terms you may come across. However, please be aware that these are not substitutes for the full legal definitions.
The legislation allows the Valuation Office Agency listing officer, in certain circumstances, to treat a domestic property which would normally be more than one dwelling as one dwelling. An example would be a hostel.
This is where the appellant and the council or Valuation Office Agency agree to settle the case before the Tribunal has heard it. If the parties confirm this agreement in writing to the Tribunal, the appeal is treated as being withdrawn and the appeal process comes to an end.
The date set by Parliament on which all valuations are based. For council tax the 1 April 1991 sets the time at which capital values of domestic property must be looked at when assessing the council tax band. For rating, the 1 April 2003 sets the time at which rental levels must be looked at when assessing the rateable value of a property on the 2005 rating list. However, from 1 April 2010, the AVD for rating cases will change and be 1 April 2008.
This is the formal challenge which is made to the Valuation Tribunal against the decision of the Valuation Office Agency, or the council, not to give the person the change they have asked for. For council tax banding, appeals can be made by the taxpayer where they receive a decision from the Valuation Office Agency that they are not happy with. For council tax liability appeals, a taxpayer must firstly have raised the issue in dispute with the council in writing and if, within certain time limits, a decision is received which they are not satisfied with, or the council does not respond, an appeal can be made by the taxpayer directly to the Tribunal. In rating, appeals are sent to the Tribunal by the Valuation Office Agency valuation officer, if he is unable to agree to a proposal a ratepayer has made within a certain time limit.
Council tax banding appeals are made directly to the Valuation Tribunal, but only after a person has made proposal to the Valuation Office Agency and they have received a notice of decision with which they disagree.
The person or people making the appeal.
This normally means something like an outbuilding that is located in the same grounds as the main building, which will not therefore be treated as a separate ‘hereditament’ for council tax or rating purposes, e.g. a garage at the bottom of the garden.
This means the council that is responsible for billing and collecting payment of the council tax and rates and for setting the amounts of the council tax.
The interpretation of legislation by courts. This can provide precedents that other courts and tribunals should follow when considering the same legal point. A decision made by one Valuation Tribunal panel does not set a precedent and is not classed as case law. It is not, therefore, binding on another Valuation Tribunal panel.
All dwellings are chargeable dwellings and therefore liable for council tax, unless they are exempt. Exempt dwellings are properties that meet the criteria of one of the various classes that have been set out in legislation. For further information on this, look at our Council Tax Guidance Manual or contact your local council.
Properties that are considered to be similar to the property being valued. The council tax band or the sale price of a comparable dwelling, or the rateable value or rent on a comparable commercial property, can assist in determining the value of the property under consideration.
This notice is served by a council for a new property, or a property that has been undergoing major changes. It gives the date at which the property is deemed to be/have been complete(d) for the purposes of becoming liable to council tax or rates. Appeals against the service of a completion notice must be made to the Valuation Tribunal.
A single property which includes both domestic and non domestic (business) use by the same person(s). There will be both a rates assessment and a council tax assessment for the property. An example would be a pub with living accommodation.
A method of valuing a property for rating purposes which looks at the cost of replacing the building and then analyses this cost into an annual amount over a certain period. This method of valuation is only used as a ‘last resort’ and for properties which are unique in the area and are owned by the occupier, so there will not be any relevant rental information available e.g. town halls.
This is like a boundary that defines the extent of a hereditament assessed for council tax or rating, including the building and appurtenances (minor buildings) that it comprises and the land it occupies.
(Hereditament = A property, or part of a property, which is assessed for rates (for commercial use) or council tax (for domestic use)).
A formal process whose use must be agreed by all parties. Where this is agreed, the Valuation Tribunal will consider and determine the appeal solely on the basis of written cases made by the parties to the appeal. A hearing will only be held where the Tribunal decide that the parties need to appear before them to deal with the case.
The legislation requires the Valuation Office Agency listing officer to treat all self-contained units as separate dwellings, regardless of whether they are occupied by the same people. An example of this would be where a main house has a ‘granny annex’ with self-contained facilities.
This is a reduction of one council tax band (from Band C to Band B for example) which may be given in certain cases where the sole or main residence of a person with a disability has been adapted specifically for their needs. For further information on this, look at our Council Tax Guidance Manual or contact your local council.
A reduction in the amount of council tax that is liable to be paid if the property is only occupied by one person, or, in some cases, where there are no occupiers in the property. Some residents in a property can be ‘disregarded’ for the purposes of deciding whether a discount should apply, e.g. students. For further information on this, look at our Council Tax Guidance Manual or contact your local council.
Properties that meet the criteria of one of various classes that have been set out in legislation, for example a dwelling occupied only by students. Exempt dwellings still appear in the valuation list even though no charge is made for council tax. For further information on this, look at our Council Tax Guidance Manual or contact your local council.
This is the procedure by which appeals are normally decided. All parties to an appeal are informed by the Tribunal of a date, place and time when a panel of three (sometimes two) members will meet to listen and consider all the arguments and evidence that parties want to submit in respect of the appeal. Parties can attend the hearing to present their case, or can ask someone to attend on their behalf or can send a written submission for the Tribunal to consider. Alternatively, with agreement of the parties, the Tribunal can hear and determine appeals without a hearing.
A property, or part of a property, which is assessed for rates (for commercial use) or council tax (for domestic use).
If, when the Valuation Office Agency receives a proposal from a council tax payer or a rate payer that they do not consider meets the legal requirements for such a proposal to be made, they can reject it and serve an ‘invalidity notice’. A person can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal against this notice and the Tribunal will then decide whether or not the proposal was valid.
Where there are two or more occupiers in a property and each has the same legal interest in the property they can both be held liable for the full amount of the council tax or rates.
A legal challenge made to the Administrative Court where a person believes a public body has acted beyond its powers, or has not done something it should reasonably have done.
The appeal body where ratepayers or the Valuation Office Agency can challenge a decision of the Valuation Tribunal on most types of rating appeals. The Lands Tribunal will hear the case afresh and new or different evidence can be provided, which may not have been put before the Valuation Tribunal. The Lands Tribunal is now known as the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).
The officer at the Valuation Office Agency who is legally responsible for compiling and maintaining the council tax valuation list.
The date at which the physical state of the property and its location must be taken account of, when assessing a commercial property’s rateable value.
This means any increase in value to a dwelling, caused by any building, engineering or other operation carried out on it. An example of this would be an extension.
A legal term which deals with the interest a person or organisation has in a property. Commonly the legislation refers to someone with a freehold interest or a 6 month leasehold interest in a dwelling.
This means any reduction in value to a dwelling, caused by the demolition of any part of it, an adaptation to it to make it suitable for use by a physically disabled person or by any change to the physical state of the dwellings locality.
The group of men and women who volunteer to become part of the Valuation Tribunal for England and who sit as part of a panel to hear and determine appeals.
An intermediate level between two floors in a commercial or industrial building. These are sometimes added after the property has been built and they can be included in the rating assessment for a property.
The type of use that a property is put to; for example, an office, or a shop, or a warehouse. This is not necessarily dependant on the actual occupier of the property so, for example, a shop selling clothes and another retailing electrical goods are both in the same mode or category of occupation.
Generally, the parties in a rating appeal will be the Valuation Office Agency valuation officer and the appellants, that is the person who made the appeal and/or their representatives. The parties in a council tax banding appeal will be the appellant and the Valuation Office Agency listing officer and, in cases involving the council, the parties will be a council representative and the appellants. In certain circumstances, other people can be a party to an appeal, such as a new tenant of a property which is under appeal.
If the Valuation Office Agency or a council request a person to provide information that they are legally required to give and they fail to do so, a penalty may be levied on the person who fails to provide this information. The imposition of a penalty may be appealed against to the Valuation Tribunal.
An appellant can employ a professional advisor to act on their behalf. The appellant will have to pay the advisor for their services and this cannot be reclaimed from the Valuation Tribunal. Generally, such advisors are chartered surveyors or solicitors, but that is at the discretion and choice of the appellant. Before the hearing of their appeal, the appellant must inform the Valuation Tribunal if they decide to use a representative.
A method of valuation for rating purposes which looks at the turnover and expenditure that a reasonable, competent occupier of a property would be expected to have and this determines how much would be available to pay rent. This method is only used for properties where there is generally a lack of rental information for that type of building, e.g. public houses.
This is the plan that the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) has laid down for dealing with all the rating proposals that are made. When proposals are received the VOA tries to put similar properties, locations and issues into the same programme and set a period of time when he will try to settle them. When rating appeals are sent to the Valuation Tribunal by the VOA, they tell us the timescale when they are planning to discuss the case with the ratepayer. The Tribunal will arrange for the case to be listed for a hearing after the date which these discussions should have been completed.
This is the written request that a ratepayer or a council tax payer makes to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) when they want to ask for the rating assessment or council tax banding entry for their property to be altered. There are certain legal requirements that must be followed in making a proposal. A proposal may be made on-line at www.voa.gov.uk or a form is available from the VOA. (A list of their offices is available on their website).
A non-domestic property can only become liable to rates if it is capable of rateable occupation. The leading case law on this issue has set down four main ‘ingredients’ that must exist for a property to be in rateable occupation; it must be capable of actual occupation, exclusive occupation, beneficial occupation and occupation that is not for too short a period.
Valuation Officers determine a rateable value for every non-domestic property in the country. This is used as the basis for the amount of rates that a ratepayer must pay. The rateable value is based on an estimate of the annual rent for the property, that it might reasonably be expected to let for, on the open market, on the antecedent valuation date, subject to various assumptions.
This is the list of all non-domestic properties in a billing authority’s area which gives their rateable value and other relevant information. These lists can be inspected at your local council offices or at the Valuation Office Agency offices. A version can also be accessed on the VOA website www.voa.gov.uk
The date at which the physical state of the property and its location must be taken account of when assessing a domestic property’s council tax band.
Where alterations have been made to a dwelling, such as adding an extension, which may increase its value (known as a material increase), the valuation band it has been placed in can only be reviewed by the Valuation Office Agency listing officer when there is a subsequent sale of the dwelling. That subsequent sale is called a relevant transaction.
A form issued by the Valuation office Agency valuation officer to occupiers of commercial properties requiring them to provide information about their lease or tenancy, including the rent they pay. If this information is not provided the valuation officer may issue a penalty.
Parties to an appeal may appoint any person they wish to represent them during discussion about an appeal and at any hearing of the appeal. Representatives can include friends, neighbours, advisors, rating surveyors and solicitors. Parties should, however, be aware that they need to pay any costs of appointing a representative; these costs cannot be recovered from the Tribunal or from the other party to the appeal. If the person making an appeal will not be present at the hearing, the panel will require a signed letter before or at the hearing, confirming that the named representative has the authority to act on their behalf.
A person who over the age of eighteen years and who has their sole or main residence in a domestic property. The issue of where a person’s sole or main residence is a matter which the Valuation Tribunal is often asked to consider. The leading case law on this issue has determined that a person’s sole or main residence is deemed to be what a reasonable onlooker, with knowledge of all the material facts, would judge it to be.
The Valuation Office Agency valuation officer is required to revalue all business properties’ rating assessments every five years using a new antecedent valuation date (AVD). The next rating list comes into force on 1 April 2010 and its AVD is 1 April 2008.
A domestic property owned by someone who does not permanently live in the dwelling. The discount which may be given against the council tax payable on such a property can vary depending on the amount set by different billing authorities.
The general level of value which has been established as existing in an area for a particular type of property. This is generally established where a number of properties, similar in size, character, accommodation, quality and location have rateable values or bandings, which, over time, have not been challenged. A tone is also set when appeals on properties in the area, which have been settled or determined by the Tribunal.
A limit set on the degree of change in the amount of rates a business will have to pay following a rating revaluation. This can be in the form of a reduction (transitional relief) or an increase (transitional surcharge).
Where there has been an alteration to a non-domestic (business) property, which occurred before a revaluation, but which had not been taken into account in the rateable value in the previous rating list. The valuation officer will, when requested, certify what its rateable value would have been by issuing a certificate. This allows for the correct application of the transitional arrangements.
The appeal body where ratepayers or the Valuation Office Agency can challenge a decision of the Valuation Tribunal on most types of rating appeals. The case will be heard afresh and new or different evidence can be provided, which may not have been put before the Valuation Tribunal.
The list of all domestic properties in a billing authority’s area that shows their council tax bands and other relevant information.
A part of HM Revenue and Customs whose officers are responsible for the assessment of all domestic (council tax) and non-domestic (business rates) properties in the country. The VOA and the Valuation Tribunal are entirely separate bodies, with different roles in the appeals process.
The officer at the Valuation Office Agency who is legally responsible for compiling and maintaining the rating list.
Valuation Office Agency
The Valuation Tribunal for England
The Valuation Tribunal Service
If a person no longer wishes to continue with an appeal it can be withdrawn by writing to the Valuation Tribunal or by completing a form. For council tax valuation and rating appeals, if agreement has been reached by the parties, any outstanding appeal is treated as having been withdrawn.
This is where a party decides to put their case to the Valuation Tribunal in writing, rather than attend the hearing in person. In these cases, the other party will be present at the hearing and the Tribunal will hear and determine the case based on the oral evidence of one party and the written evidence of the other. If the Tribunal thinks that additional information is required, it can adjourn the hearing and order both parties to attend the rescheduled hearing.
A method of comparing the values of different shops by dividing their internal area into ‘zones’ of particular depths. Commonly, shops are measured in 6.1 metre zones from the front of the property: The ‘zone’ nearest the front of the shop (commonly called the Zone A area) is treated as being the most valuable, with the zone behind that being half as valuable and so on.
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