29 March 2000
Landowners slam council tax change

By FWi staff

LANDOWNERS have slammed changes to council tax rules which means charges will be made for uninhabitable properties.

The new rule, which comes into effect from Saturday (1 April), has been criticised by the Country Landowners Association (CLA).

Even allowing for the 50% discount normally available for vacant dwellings, the cost will be beyond the means of many cash-starved farmers, it believes.

“Given the plight of farming landowners at the present time, it seems totally inappropriate,” said Bruce Monnington, CLA chief legal adviser.

The new ruling leaves landowners two options – either they renovate properties and find a tenant, or they can demolish or reclassify them, he added.

The change in legislation was introduced to increase the availability of housing in towns and cities, said Mr Monnington.

“While it may be justifiable in urban areas, this change seems to be totally unfair in respect of rural areas.”

The 2000 rating revaluation also comes into effect on Saturday, meaning higher bills for buildings recently converted to business use.

Robin Eyles, of midlands-based chartered surveyors Fisher Hoggarth, said there is plenty of scope to challenge the revised rates bills.

“Farm diversifications and added-value enterprises are often unique to their area and there is little comparable evidence to justify the rateable values..

“There may also be circumstances when certain enterprises fall within the agricultural exemption.”