Non-Domestic Rating Act 2023

Image: Amanda Marie/gdtography/Unsplash
Image: Amanda Marie/gdtography/Unsplash

The Non-Domestic Rating Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 1 October 2023 and will introduce a number of changes to the business rates system. 

The Act is being implemented in stages. Provisions already in force include:

  • A tightening of the scope of material change in circumstances, such that any new legislation, licensing regimes and guidance from public bodies will not now be grounds for a change in rateable value between revaluations.
  • The introduction of completion notices for refurbished buildings, which have been deleted from the rating list during the refurbishment works. This amendment closes a loophole which previously prevented such buildings from being brought back into the rating list until they were occupied.
  • With a view to bringing rateable values closer to rental values, the Act has increased the frequency of rating revaluations, from every five years, to every three years (next revaluation in 2026).

The most significant change under the Act will be the introduction of a new duty to notify being placed on ratepayers, due to come into force in the coming year.

The rationale for this change is to support the move to more frequent revaluations.  The Act places a duty on ratepayers to proactively provide information to the Valuation Office Agency (“VOA”). The obligation will fall on any person who is for the time being a ratepayer in respect of a hereditament. This will require all ratepayers (including those who would be a ratepayer but for any exemption) to assess their own reporting obligations and proactively comply, using an online portal.

This will consist of two main administrative duties:

  • Ratepayers will have a duty to notify the VOA within 60 days of any changes in the identity of the ratepayer, or any changes concerning the hereditament that may affect its rateable value; and
  • Ratepayers will need to file an annual return within 60 days of 30 April each year, to confirm that they have provided all required information.

Potentially, the notifiable information will encompass any physical change to a property, as well as changes in tenure or occupation.

The VOA is also given new powers to serve notices on any owner or occupier specifying a reason for believing that a relevant change has occurred and requiring then to provide information.

Failure to comply with these reporting obligations will be punishable by fines.  Deliberate or reckless provision of false information will be considered as a criminal offence.

This duty to notify is expected to commence via a phased launch during the 2024/25 rates year, with the new framework only fully commencing once the online portal is up and running.

It will interesting to see how the Courts interpret the scope of the new reporting duties, and what implications any failure to comply may have on disputes as to liability.

Aidan Thomas, Associate Solicitor

Greenhalgh Kerr
Olympic House, Beecham Court,
Smithy Brook Rd,
Wigan WN3 6PR

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+44 (0)333 200 5200

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