Rates relief for businesses
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
BUSINESS owners across the district reacted with dismay when the council announced that rates would increase by 1.3 per cent earlier this month.
However, the Citizens Advice Bureau has revealed that an article in the Northern Ireland Rates order (1977) allows for a discount in rates under certain circumstances.
The article provides for a 15 per cent discount on rates when certain specifications are met.
Rosemarie Mc Donnell, manager of Newry and Mourne Citizens Advice Bureau explained how rates payers could take advantage of the discount.
“This is an agreement where The Owner of a property undertakes to pay The Department on or before the September 30 each year the amounts due in respect of rates chargeable," she said.
“The Department agrees to make The Owner an allowance of 15 per cent of their rates charge where they pay amounts owed on or before the specified date.
“Not only does Article 21 benefit property owners but can be used as a tool to protect tenants.
“Occupiers (tenants) are liable to pay rates in respect of properties which the Land and Property Service have valued at £150,001 and above. Where an agreement under Article 21 has been made this liability is negated.
“We have encountered cases where private tenants have a tenancy agreement which stipulates that payments are inclusive of rent and rates.
“The landlord has not paid the rates chargeable and the tenant is being held liable to pay the rates where the property is valued at £150,001 and above.
“Given the current economic climate, we suspect that this could be happening to quite an extent.
“In one particular instance, a couple received a rates bill totalling £4,500. Often, it may be futile to take legal action against the landlord as they are in a precarious financial position leaving tenants in a very vulnerable position.
“We feel that it is very important that property owners, tenants and rental agencies are aware of Article 21 in order to avoid situations such as this.
“The agreement is completed on form AA10 which is downloadable from the Land and Property website at www.dfpni.gov.uk/lps/article_21_application.pdf.
“At Citizens Advice we strive to ensure that people are not disadvantaged through lack of knowledge of their rights and we continue to promote effective change through raising social policy issues at government level."
For more information contact Newry CAB on 028 3026 2934.
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