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Liability for business rates whilst property being refurbished

1 March 2017

With the current publicity over the rating revaluation coming in next month alongside proposed changes to the appeals process, today’s Supreme Court decision will come as a relief to embattled ratepayers.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that a property stripped to a shell whilst substantial refurbishment was being undertaken (configuring a single office into three separate units) should still be valued as if it were in a reasonable state of repair. The Supreme Court disagreed and applied instead the ‘reality principle’ (i.e. a property should be valued as it in fact existed on the material day). In this case, the property was not capable of beneficial occupation (and so the rateable value should be reduced to £1).

Today’s decision should help to make the refurbishment of properties more affordable for property owners and should mean that no rates are payable when no income is being received from a property because substantial works are being carried out to it.

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