Excessive rateable value

I'm just wondering if anyone knows how or if we can challenge/change our rateable value on our house to get our water bill reduced. Our rateable value is really high compared to neighbours.

We live in a semi detached. We have a two-storey extension in comparison to other houses on our road - bathroom and kitchen. However we still have the same number of bedrooms (4) but have a larger dining room (old kitchen and dining room knocked into one), so still 2 reception rooms, and a larger family bathroom.

However our neighbours on both sides have SIGNIFICANTLY smaller water bills. - Ours is approx. £1270 per year and their's are under £400. How can that be right?

At the time of the valuations (1990) that the water boards use, we think our house was divided into flats - 3 or 4 of them. It was also used at some point as a business (alternative therapists) we've been told - we are unsure of the dates for either but know that the conversion back to one residential house happened in the mid to late 90s.

Could this be why ours is so much higher as it was based on rateable values and obviously the rent for our house would have been much greater for 3 or 4 flats than one family house, or for a business.

Yorkshire water are saying their records only go back to 2003 so they can't tell if the house was assessed as individual flats or as a business - how can that be ok??

We don't want a water meter as we believe (and have been advised by estate agents) that it can deter some buyers from bigger houses.

If there is no way to get you house reassessed, how do I start a petition to get update assessments for everyone?!

Comments

  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    This has been covered at length in this section of MSE; but to start at the beginning:

    April 1990 was the date the Rateable Value(RV) system of local taxation ended: it changed to the 'Poll Tax' and then to the present Council Tax.

    So the RV of a property at that date(April 1990) is the basis for charges the water companies use for non-metered accounts.

    The last general re-assessment of RV for properties was in 1973. Houses built between then and April 1990 were assessed by the local Council at the time of occupation; it is important to note that this was for payment of Rates to the council; the Water Board(as it was then) had no involvement in the setting of the RV - they just used the RV as a basis for their charges.

    It is also important to appreciate the basis of assessment for the RV. It was the notional rent the property could command. There were many factors that were considered in that assessment besides the size of the property. modernisation, garage, etc. This is why a huge mansion that was derelict in 1973 could have a lower RV than a 2 bed estate semi, as nobody would want to rent the mansion. Now that modernised mansion could be Band H for Council Tax but still retain a peppercorn RV!

    In your case it is feasible that if there were 3 flats either in 1973, or the property was re-assessed when the house was converted to flats after 1973, the RV is much higher than your neighbour's properties. The rent the 3 flats could command would be much higher than your neighbour's single properties; especially if the flats were modernised(by 1973 standards)

    Now the bad news. There is absolutely no mechanism to change the RV of a property; and hasn't been for the last 27 years. This has been tried many times without success, and the situation is covered in various official documents; Ofwat, Consumer Council for Water etc.
    However our neighbours on both sides have SIGNIFICANTLY smaller water bills. - Ours is approx. £1270 per year and their's are under £400. How can that be right?
    Is your suggestion that your neighbours should pay £1270;)


    What justification would there be to start a petition? For all properties built since 1990, a meter is mandatory; so why should properties built before 1990 pay less for their water by getting a lower RV?

    It is pertinent to point out that under the Water Act, water companies were entitled to make fitting of a meter mandatory when there was a change of occupant(including tenants on a 6 month + rental agreement). The aim of the Act was to eventually have all properties metered. However some water companies enforced that provision, others didn't bother.

    That said there has been pressure put on water companies to make fitting of meters compulsory on change of occupant.; so when selling your house it is probable a meter will be fitted. That seems to me to be perfectly sensible; we all pay for what we use!
  • CIS
    CIS Posts: 12,260
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    You can ask that the water company to set a fixed or assessed charge in view of the rateable value changes (or, in reality, the changes that would appear to be due if the value could be re-assessed).

    Craig
    I no longer work in Council Tax Recovery but instead work as a specialist Council Tax paralegal assisting landlords and Council Tax payers with council tax disputes and valuation tribunals. My views are my own reading of the law and you should always check with the local authority in question.
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    edited 6 February 2017 at 4:42PM
    CIS wrote: »
    You can ask that the water company to set a fixed or assessed charge in view of the rateable value changes (or, in reality, the changes that would appear to be due if the value could be re-assessed).

    Craig

    The only way an assessed charge can be given is if the customer applies for a water meter and for technical reasons a meter cannot be fitted. This normally is for flats, or houses with a shared water supply.

    This from the Ofwat website:
    Assessed charges

    Your water company can refuse to install a water meter at your property if it is not practical or is too expensive for it to fit one.
    If you cannot have a water meter installed, your water company should offer you an assessed charge. This is an alternative to your rateable value charge.
    You will not be offered an assessed charge unless you apply for a meter.
    We all have an alternative to charges based on the RV - it is called metered charges!

    This was the aim of the Privatisation of Water Act, to have everyone metered and all pay on the same basis - i.e. how much water you use.

    The only reason the Act allowed 'grandfather rights' for existing customers in April 1990 was some households with a large number of occupants and a low RV would have been faced with a big increase in charges.
  • spiro
    spiro Posts: 6,403
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    Get a meter fitted, if you don't like the charges using this method you can go back to RV based bills within the 1st 12 months.
    IT Consultant in the utilities industry specialising in the retail electricity market.

    4 Credit Card and 1 Loan PPI claims settled for £26k, 1 rejected (Opus).
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