business rates

Back in March I wrote about Subhas Patel’s rates problem. Some time ago he got planning permission to convert the downstairs of his shop in Fulham. He carried out the conversion and rented it out. But the tenant never paid the rates for three years and Fulham Council continued to charge Subhas commercial rates. The guy renting the place then declared himself bankrupt and he was asked to leave. A new tenant took up residency at the end of December.

Subhas has tried to update Fulham Council but to no avail.

This story was recently picked up by Preston-based chartered surveyor Ken Batty who said he may be able to help.

Unlike many rating consultants, ie cowboys, Ken is reliable and will not rip Subhas off. Indeed he sent the following to him: “If the scenario that I am setting out below is correct then I believe that there may be a strong possibility of being able to assist you.

“Some 18 months/two years ago we understand that you converted part of the above mentioned premises from business use to residential but that during that time the Billing Authority were not made aware of what was happening and therefore not only did you continue to pay full Business Rates on the section of the property that was being converted to residential but now the Billing Authority are saying that retrospectively they are not willing to refund you the Business Rates on that portion.

He adds: “It would appear that your argument is three-fold, 1) Business Rates should not have been paid on the area undergoing conversion and 2) when completed it should have been changed to Council Tax banding 3) during works being undertaken the correct procedure would have been to have had the part of the premises being converted into residential taken out of rating so the only liability you should have had during the conversion time (assuming planning permission had been applied for to convert to residential) would have been on the convenience store which we assume to be on the ground floor or at least a section of the ground floor.

“Attached is a copy of the current summary valuation for your property or certainly what we believe is the correct summary valuation and it would be appreciated if you could mark on this the sections that you believe are no longer non domestic but are council tax, return this to us and we will then take the matter further.”

And he concludes: “Because we offer an advice service to Convenience Store via Jac Roper there will be no charge for our initial advice here but if we feel we are able to make progress for you after clarification following this letter then we would have to quote you a fee for undertaking the work which is not straightforward but you will find that extremely reasonable and certainly from your point of view very cost effective.

“In the meantime however your responses are being dealt with under our pro-bono assistance to Jac Roper and Convenience Store. Only when we feel that we may be able to make progress for you after clarifying matters will we give you the option for us to proceed on a fee basis.”

How about that for service?