This list of explanations attempts to de-mystify some of the terms you may come across. However, please be aware that these are not substitutes for the full legal definitions.

The legislation allows the Valuation Office Agency listing officer, in certain circumstances, to treat a domestic property which would normally be more than one dwelling as one dwelling. An example would be a hostel.

This is where the appellant and the council or Valuation Office Agency agree to settle the case before the Tribunal has heard it.  If the parties confirm this agreement in writing to the Tribunal, the appeal is treated as being withdrawn and the appeal process comes to an end.

The date set by Parliament on which all valuations are based.

For council tax, 1 April 1991 is the date at which capital values of domestic property must be looked at when assessing the council tax band.

For rating, 1 April 2008 is the date at which rental levels must be looked at when assessing the rateable value of a property on the 2010 rating list.  For the 2017 revaluation, the AVD is 1 April 2015.

An appeal is when you think a decision is wrong and you have a right in law to ask an independent tribunal to look at it. In our terms, an appeal is a formal challenge made to the Valuation Tribunal against the decision of the Valuation Office Agency or the council, not to give the person the change they have asked for.

The property that an appeal has been made about and which the Tribunal has to make a decision on; sometimes also referred to as the ‘subject property’.

A person making an appeal.

This normally means something like an outbuilding that is located in the same grounds as the main building, which will not therefore be treated as a separate ‘hereditament’ for council tax or rating purposes, for example a garage at the bottom of the garden.

The date set by Parliament on which all valuations are based.

For council tax, 1 April 1991 is the date at which capital values of domestic property must be looked at when assessing the council tax band.

For rating, 1 April 2008 is the date at which rental levels must be looked at when assessing the rateable value of a property on the 2010 rating list. For the 2017 revaluation, the AVD is 1 April 2015.

This means the local council that is responsible for billing and collecting payment of the council tax and rates and for setting the amounts of the council tax.

In the decisions of courts and judges, they often set out what they believe the law in that area means, this is they give their ‘interpretation’. This can provide what is known as ‘precedent’ that other courts and tribunals should follow when considering the same legal point.

A decision made by one Valuation Tribunal panel does not set a precedent and is not normally binding on another Valuation Tribunal panel. But if the decision was made by the VTE President or a Vice-President, panels should follow it when dealing with a case about the same issues.

All dwellings are chargeable and therefore liable for council tax, unless they are exempt.  Exempt dwellings are properties that meet the criteria of one of the various classes that have been set out in legislation. For further information on this, look at our Council Tax Guidance Manual or contact your local council.

This is the process introduced by government for business rates appeals against the 2017 and later rating lists.

“Check” is the first stage. Ratepayers (or their representatives) check the information that the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) hold about their property. The VOA will supply the information if they consider it is reasonable to do so and may request more information from the ratepayer. When the ratepayer has confirmed that the information held is accurate, the VOA notify the ratepayer that the check has been completed.

“Challenge” is the ‘proposal’ stage. A proposal must be made within 4 months of the date the check was completed. (This could be 12 months after the ratepayer confirmed the information was correct if the VOA does not notify that the check has been completed). If the VOA does not agree with the proposal and the ratepayer does not withdraw it, the VOA will serve a notice of decision setting out why they are not making the alteration or are making a different alteration from the one proposed.

“Appeal” is the final stage where, if the ratepayer is not happy with the VOA notice of decision, an appeal can be made to the independent tribunal. This must be done within 4 months of the date of the VOA decision notice. (This could be after 18 months of making a proposal if no decision notice was received).

Properties that are considered to be similar to the property being valued in, for example, size, accommodation and location. The council tax band or the sale price of a comparable dwelling, or the rateable value or rent on a comparable commercial property, can help in determining the likely value of the appeal property.

This notice is sent out when a council thinks that a new property, or a property that has been undergoing major changes is substantially complete. The notice gives the date at which the council believes the property was or will be complete and so becomes liable to council tax or rates.  An appeal against a completion notice is made to the Valuation Tribunal.

A single property which includes both domestic and non domestic (business) use by the same person(s), for example a pub with living accommodation. There will be both a rates assessment and a council tax assessment for the property.

A method of valuing a property for rating purposes which looks at the cost of replacing the building and then analyses this cost into an annual amount over a certain period. This method of valuation is only used as a ‘last resort’ and for properties which are unique in the area and are owned by the occupier, so there will not be any relevant rental information available that can be used to value it.  An example would be a town hall.

This is like a boundary that defines the extent of a hereditament assessed for council tax or rating, including the building and appurtenances (minor buildings) that it includes and the land on which it stands.

A formal process whose use must be agreed by all parties. Where this is agreed, the Valuation Tribunal will consider and determine the appeal only on the basis of written cases made by the parties to the appeal, who will not attend a hearing. A hearing will only be held where the Tribunal decide that the parties need to appear before them to deal with the case.

The Tribunal panel’s written instructions, which the parties to an appeal must follow.

The legislation requires the Valuation Office Agency listing officer to treat all self-contained units as separate dwellings, regardless of whether they are occupied by the same people. An example of this would be where a main house has a ‘granny annex’ with self-contained facilities.

This is a reduction of one council tax band (from Band C to Band B for example) which may be given in certain cases where the sole or main residence of a person with a disability has been adapted specifically for their needs. For further information on this, look at our Council Tax Guidance Manual or contact your local council.

A reduction in the amount of council tax that is liable to be paid if the property is only occupied by one person, or, in some cases, where no one lives in the property. Some residents in a property can be ‘disregarded’ for the purposes of deciding whether a discount should apply, for example students. For further information on this, look at our Council Tax Guidance Manual or contact your local council.

Properties that meet the criteria of one of various classes that have been set out in legislation, for example a dwelling occupied only by students. Exempt dwellings still appear in the valuation list even though no charge is made for council tax.  For further information on this, look at our Council Tax Guidance Manual or contact your local council.

This is the procedure by which appeals are normally decided. All parties to an appeal are told by the Tribunal of a date, place and time when a panel of usually two members will meet to listen and consider all the arguments and evidence that is submitted about the appeal. Parties can attend the hearing to present their case, or can ask someone to attend on their behalf or can send a written submission for the Tribunal to consider. Or, if everyone agrees, the Tribunal can hear and determine appeals without a hearing.

A property, or part of a property, which is assessed for rates (for business use) or council tax (for domestic use).

When the Valuation Office Agency receives a proposal from a council tax payer or a rate payer that they consider does not meet the legal requirements for such a proposal to be made, they can reject it and serve an ‘invalidity notice’. The person can appeal to the Valuation Tribunal against this notice and the Tribunal will then decide whether or not the proposal was valid.

Where there are two or more people living in a property and each has the same legal ‘material interest’ in the property they can both be held liable for the full amount of the council tax or rates.

A legal challenge made to the Administrative Court when a person believes a public body, such as the Valuation Tribunal, has acted beyond its powers, or has not done something it should reasonably have done.

This is now known as the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).

The officer at the Valuation Office Agency who is legally responsible for compiling and maintaining the council tax valuation list.

The date at which the physical state of the property and its location must be taken account of, when assessing a commercial property’s rateable value.

This means any increase in the value of a dwelling, caused by any building, engineering or other operation carried out on it. An example of this would be an extension.

A legal term which deals with the interest a person or organisation has in a property. Often the legislation refers to someone with a freehold interest or a 6 month leasehold interest in a dwelling.

This means any reduction in the value of a dwelling, caused by the demolition of any part of it, an adaptation to it to make it suitable for use by a physically disabled person or by any change to the physical state of the dwellings locality.

The group of men and women who are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission to become part of the Valuation Tribunal for England and who sit as part of a panel to hear and determine appeals.

An intermediate level between two floors in a commercial or industrial building. These are sometimes added after the property has been built and they can be included in the rating assessment for a property.

The type of use that a property is put to; for example, an office, or a shop, or a warehouse. This is not necessarily dependent on the actual occupier of the property so, for example, a shop selling clothes and another retailing electrical goods are both in the same mode or category of occupation.

Generally, the parties in a rating appeal will be the Valuation Office Agency valuation officer and the appellant, that is the person who made the appeal and/or their representative. The parties in a council tax banding appeal will be the appellant and the Valuation Office Agency listing officer and, in cases involving the council, the parties will be a council representative and the appellant. In certain circumstances, other people can be a party to an appeal, such as a new tenant of a property which is under appeal.

If the Valuation Office Agency or a council asks a person to provide information that they are legally required to give, a penalty may be levied if they fail to provide this information. The penalty may be appealed against to the Valuation Tribunal.

The rules of the Tribunal, in which the President has set out how the business of the Tribunal is to be conducted. The Practice Statement includes some directions and covers events before, during and after the hearing of an appeal.

The Valuation Tribunal for England (Council Tax and Rating Appeals) (Procedure) Regulations 2009, SI 2009 No 2269.

An appellant can employ a professional advisor to act on their behalf. The appellant will have to pay the advisor for their services and this cannot be reclaimed from the Valuation Tribunal. Generally, such advisors are chartered surveyors or solicitors, but that is the choice of the appellant. Before the hearing of their appeal, the appellant must let the Valuation Tribunal know if they decide to use a representative.

A method of valuation for rating purposes which looks at the turnover and expenditure that a reasonable, competent occupier of a property would be expected to have and this determines how much would be available to pay rent. This method is only used for properties where there is generally a lack of rental information for that type of building, for example public houses.

This is how the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) timetables or plans for dealing with all the rating proposals that are made. When proposals are received the VOA tries to put similar properties, locations and issues into the same programme and set a period of time when they will try to settle them. When rating appeals are sent to the Valuation Tribunal by the VOA, they tell us the timescale when they are planning to discuss the case with the ratepayer. The Tribunal will arrange for the case to be listed for a hearing after the date which these discussions should have been completed.

This is the written request or challenge that a ratepayer or a council tax payer makes to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) when they want to ask for the rating assessment or council tax banding entry for their property to be altered. There are certain legal requirements that must be followed in making a proposal. A proposal may be made on-line at www.gov.uk/business-rates-appeals or www.gov.uk/council-tax-appeals.

A non-domestic property can only become liable to rates if it is capable of rateable occupation. The leading case law on this issue has set down four main ‘ingredients’ that must exist for a property to be in rateable occupation; it must be capable of actual occupation, exclusive occupation (that is, limited to one occupier), beneficial occupation and occupation that is not for too short a period.

Valuation Officers determine a rateable value for every non-domestic property in the country. This is used as the basis for the amount of rates that a ratepayer must pay.  The rateable value is based on an estimate of the annual rent for the property, that it might reasonably be expected to let for, on the open market, on the antecedent valuation date, subject to various assumptions.

This is the list of all non-domestic properties in a billing authority’s area which gives their rateable value and other relevant information. These lists can be inspected at your local council offices or at the Valuation Office Agency offices. A version can also be viewed on the VOA website.

The date at which the physical state of the property and its location must be taken account of when assessing a domestic property’s council tax band.

Where alterations  have been made to a dwelling, such as adding an extension, which may increase its value (known as a material increase), the valuation band it has been placed in can only be reviewed by the Valuation Office Agency listing officer when there is a subsequent sale of the dwelling. That subsequent sale is called a relevant transaction.

A form from the Valuation Office Agency to occupiers of business properties requiring them to provide information about their lease or tenancy, including the rent they pay. If this information is not provided the valuation officer may issue a penalty.

An appellant may appoint anyone they wish to represent them during discussion about an appeal and at any hearing of the appeal. Representatives can include friends, neighbours, advisors, rating surveyors and solicitors.  Appellants have to pay any costs of appointing a representative; these costs cannot be recovered from the Tribunal or from the other party to the appeal. If the appellant will not be present at the hearing, the panel will require a signed letter before or at the hearing, confirming that the named representative has the authority to act on their behalf.

A person who is over 18 and who has their sole or main residence in a domestic property. The issue of where a person’s sole or main residence is a matter which the Valuation Tribunal is often asked to consider. The leading case law on this issue has determined that a person’s sole or main residence is deemed to be what a reasonable onlooker, with knowledge of all the material facts, would judge it to be.

The Valuation Office Agency is required to revalue all business properties’ rating assessments, usually every five years using a new antecedent valuation date (AVD). The latest rating list came into force on 1 April 2017.

A domestic property owned by someone who does not live there all the time. Whether there is a discount or a premium for the council tax on such a property can vary depending on where it is, as different billing authorities (councils) can decide differently about this.

This is important in deciding the level of fee that a ratepayer has to pay to make an appeal. A small proposer pays £150 fee, whereas any other proposer pays £300.

The definition is set out in the Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (England)(Amendment) Regulations, SI 2017 No1550.  This refers to definitions of a “micro business” and an “undertaking” in section 33 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

A micro business here is an undertaking which has an average headcount in a year of fewer than 10 staff, and has a turnover, or a balance sheet total of £2 million or less.

An undertaking which is not included in the definition is:

    • a person carrying on one or more businesses or
    • a voluntary or community body (such as a trade union; an unincorporated body or company limited by guarantee which does not distribute any surplus it makes to its members; a charity; a registered society of Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014; a community interest company; a community interest company; a charitable incorporated organisation within the meaning of Part 11 of the Charities Act 2011.

The decision made by the Tribunal panel or chairman to dismiss your appeal and give it no further consideration. For example, appeals may be struck out if a direction is not complied with.

The general level of value which has been established as existing in an area for a particular type of property. This is generally established where a number of properties, similar in size, character, accommodation, quality and location have rateable values or bandings, which, over time, have not been challenged or changed. A tone is also set when appeals on properties in the area have been settled or determined by the Tribunal.

A limit set on the degree of change in the amount of rates a business will have to pay following a rating revaluation. This can be in the form of a reduction (transitional relief) or an increase (transitional surcharge).

Where there has been an alteration to a non-domestic (business) property, which occurred before a revaluation, but which had not been taken into account in the rateable value in the previous rating list. The valuation officer will, when requested, certify what its rateable value would have been by issuing a certificate. This allows for the correct application of the transitional arrangements.

The appeal body where ratepayers or the Valuation Office Agency can challenge a decision of the Valuation Tribunal on most types of rating appeals. The case will be heard afresh and new or different evidence can be provided, which may not have been put before the Valuation Tribunal.

The list of all domestic properties in a billing authority’s area that shows their council tax bands and other relevant information.

A part of HM Revenue & Customs whose officers are responsible for the assessment of all domestic (council tax) and non-domestic (business rates) properties in the country. The VOA and the Valuation Tribunal are entirely separate bodies, with different roles in the appeals process.

The officer at the Valuation Office Agency who is legally responsible for compiling and maintaining the rating list.

If a person no longer wishes to continue with an appeal it can be withdrawn before the hearing or at the hearing.  If agreement has been reached by the parties, any outstanding appeal is treated as having been withdrawn.

This is where a party decides to put their case to the Valuation Tribunal in writing, rather than attend the hearing in person. In these cases, the other party will be present at the hearing and the Tribunal will hear and determine the case based on the oral evidence of one party and the written evidence of the other. If the Tribunal thinks that additional information is required, it can adjourn the hearing and order both parties to attend the rescheduled hearing.

A method of comparing the values of different shops by dividing their internal area into ‘zones’ of particular depths. Commonly, shops are measured in 6.1 metre zones from the front of the property: The ‘zone’ nearest the front of the shop (commonly called the Zone A area) is treated as being the most valuable, with the zone behind that being half as valuable and so on.