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How to choose a business rates agent

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Business Rates

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) values non-domestic properties, like shops and pubs, for business rates.

You can manage your business rates yourself by creating a business rates valuation account on GOV.UK.

If you want an agent to manage your business rates, use our checklist below to choose one. Don’t let an agent choose you.

In this blog, we explain:

  • what a rating agent is
  • the standards they should follow
  • how to avoid scams
  • what to look for when choosing an agent

What is a rating agent?

Rating agents can deal with the VOA and your business rates on your behalf.

They can discuss your property valuation with us, tell us if you think your property’s rateable value is incorrect and challenge it if necessary.

They can also tell us if your property details need changing or about the rent you pay.

Rating agents are often members of a professional body.

Our standards for agents

These standards set out clear expectations of agents regarding their behaviour and professional practice, and the service they provide to their customers.

In return, we will deal with agents courteously and professionally, according to our Customer Charter.

Avoiding scams and rogue agents

The vast majority of rating agents are reputable and provide a good service. But a small minority act in bad faith.

These rogue agents usually promise big reductions in business rates – but they do this by submitting inaccurate information. This could result in penalties or increased rates bills for you.

They may also charge substantial fees for providing poor quality submissions using our online Check and Challenge service, which is free to use.

Your business rates are your responsibility. If your agent provides inaccurate information, you might have to pay a penalty or pay any additional rates you owe.

Checklist for choosing an agent

  • Remember – you don’t have to use an agent to manage your business rates.
  • Make sure you choose your own agent – don’t let an agent choose you. Do your own research and explore different options before committing to an agent.
  • Check an agent’s background before you sign a contract. A firm or individual may refer to themselves as a ‘surveyor’, ‘rating advisor’, ‘rating consultant’ or similar. This does not mean they are a member of a professional body.
  • Appointing an agent who is a member of a professional body may provide extra reassurance as they will be subject to that body’s rules and regulations. Institute of Revenues, Rating, Valuation (IRRV), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Rating Surveyors' Association (RSA) have published joint standards that their members should follow.
  • Before signing a contract, always check the length and terms. Rogue agents have been known to tie business owners into costly, long-term agreements.
  • Make sure you read the small print and fully understand the services you are paying for. Reputable agents should not pressure you into signing a contract or demand large sums of money up front.
  • Once you’ve appointed an agent, keep up to date with what they are doing. Familiarise yourself with our Check service and use your business rates valuation account to view correspondence between the VOA and your agent.
  • If your rating agent changes, for example the company they work for merges with another, it is your responsibility to update this on your account.

Removing an agent

Our advice should help you select a reputable agent. If you’ve already had a bad experience with an agent, there are steps you can take.

If the agent was a member of a professional body – like the IRRV, RICS or RSA – you should contact that body to make a complaint.

If the agent was not a member of a professional body, you can contact the trading standards team at your local council or your local Citizens Advice.

If you believe an agent has knowingly, carelessly or recklessly provided us with false information

Through your business rates valuation account, you can remove an agent completely. This means they can no longer do anything for you. You can choose to manage your own business rates, or you can appoint a different agent. You can appoint different agents for different properties.

Remember to check your contract before removing an agent. You may still have to pay their fees and for any information they have already provided to the VOA.

More information on appointing an agent is available on GOV.UK.

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