The main attraction for many buyers of equestrian properties in Surrey and Sussex is the opportunity to keep their horses at home. Many buyers dream of being able to watch their horses graze from the kitchen window, whilst others wish to run an equestrian business, but many overlook the potential business rates that apply to owning an equestrian property.
In theory, business rates are not charged on private homes, however what is considered to be a domestic and a non-domestic property can be difficult to ascertain and the line can become blurred even if owners are not running the equestrian facilities as a commercial enterprise. For instance, many owners decide to take in a few local liveries and therefore could be liable and some yards can even qualify for a rateable value even if they are part of a private house.
The Valuation Office describes that “to be considered domestic property, stabling needs to be appurtenant to, and either belonging to, or enjoyed with, living accommodation”. Valuation Officers also take into account the scale of the stabling in comparison to the house, how far away it is situated from the main dwelling and the level of facilities available. However, even this can be hit and miss and in some cases, a property with indoor stabling and an indoor school may not be rateable but a property with an outdoor school and outdoor timber stabling may well be. Also taken into account is the quality of the facilities, if these are considered to have a high potential rental value, a higher rateable value can be applied.
Rateable values can be challenged by the owner of the property or even that the property has been listed for rates by lodging an appeal. However, although there is no cost involved in such an appeal, it is always advisable to seek help from a rating professional to maximise the chances of success at appeal and this will come at a cost. In considering the appeal, the Valuation Agency will take into account whether the reasons for appeal are valid and may decide to reduce the rateable value, but rarely is the property then exempted from rating.
The promising news however, is that the future resale value of a property with a rateable value should not suffer adversely and so many owners who find their property rated, decide that it is worth the extra cost involved to have the enjoyment of having their horses at home.
At Garrington, a part of our due diligence process when assessing a house for purchase for our clients, is to unearth any hidden costs such as these, any applicable business rates or land classifications which may not immediately have been evident. This way we can advise our client accordingly and knowledgably so that they can make an informed decision about their future property and rest assured that the property is right for them.