Some of you may remember a rates story from last summer. It featured Rohit Patel, who trades as VNP Stores in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. He had fallen for a spiel from cold-calling RVA Surveyors in Manchester. They demanded £100 + Vat upfront. He refused; they nagged and he paid up. Eventually, he got a demand for 50% of the reduction they had ‘achieved’ = £500 + Vat.

He rang his valuation office and was told, it’s a scam - you automatically get a £1K reduction as rural rate relief.

RVA was holding him to the contract he signed, quoting from the agreement which says: ‘The fee will be payable whether or not RVA is shown to be the effective cause of any such reduction in the rateable value (including any repayment of rates, relief, reliefs and refunds)’. So, obviously, they didn’t need to do anything on Rohit’s behalf to get the five hundred quid.

When my go-to chartered surveyor Ken Batty (Preston, Lancashire) read the story he was incensed and offered to provide Rohit with a professional witness statement should it come to court, although he was pretty certain that RVA wouldn’t chance their arm under judicial scrutiny. Ken, as regular readers will know, has been trying to herd cowboys out of town for years.

He has been in communication with Rohit since and most recently wrote to him to tell him that he had been in touch with the MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, and had sent the MP a copy of RVA Surveyors’ so-called contract. RVA, unfortunately (for them) are in his constituency.

Turns out that Simon Danczuk has had numerous complaints about RVA and has now handed the matter over to Trading Standards.

Ken thinks that Rohit should now be in the clear. I think both should do a victory lap.

I would add that, whatever you think of your own MP, never underestimate the power they have to get things done at a higher level. Rohit could have gone to his own TSOs, which would have to communicate with their Rochdale colleagues. An MP going to the relevant TSOs will have a lot more clout.