As rioting spreads across the country costing businesses tens of millions of pounds and closing some for good Gerald Eve has offered guidance to mitigate business rates liabilities for properties affected.
Jerry Schurder head of rating at Gerald Eve the UK’s biggest business rates adviser said: “This is a horrendous situation and we extend our sympathy and support to the affected business communities. For many they may feel overwhelmed, but at least on the business rates front they can take positive steps to reduce costs.
“For any units which have been destroyed or suffered significant structural damage, the local Valuation Officer should be approached to take the assessment out of rating with immediate effect. If you are located in close proximity to properties which have been damaged in this way and are likely to suffer disturbance as a consequence for a considerable period, one can lodge appeals for a reduction in rates assessment whilst these adverse circumstances exist.
Schurder said: “It will not be possible to reduce a property’s rateable value for lesser damage (e.g. damaged shop fronts) as the assumption required for rating valuations is that the property is in a state of reasonable repair. The most practical manner in which to reduce rates liability in this scenario, so long as premises were incapable of occupation for at least one complete day, is to apply to the local billing authority for empty rates relief on the grounds that the property was unoccupied.
Schurder added: “If your own property has escaped physical damage but you were unable to trade or occupy premises as a consequence of the riots, e.g. police action denied access for at least an entire day, one is able to claim void rates relief due to occupation being prevented by the action of a public body.”
“We expect many authorities to take a sympathetic line in relation to such approaches but if one is unable to reduce rates liability then it should be included in any business interruption claim under your insurance policy.”