Chartered Surveyors
Commercial Property Consultants

Robinson Layer – Professional Services

Layer - Professional Services

Valuation – The valuation of property is fundamental to any firm of Chartered Surveyors. At Robinson Layer we combine our experience and understanding of commercial property with our active involvement in the commercial property market to provide valuations for property investors & purchasers, landlords & tenants, banks & other lending institutions, private pension funds, company accounts, probate and taxation. Our valuation service is regulated by our professional body, the RICS, and specifically tailored to our client's needs and requirements.

Rent Review – Rent reviews are the periodic adjustment of the annual rent of business premises to current market rental value. Rental value is normally assessed by comparison to other transactions in the market, but the other properties are rarely identical and adjustments become necessary to reflect differences in age, specification, layout and location etc. Equally, there is no standard wording and each lease will vary from another, sometimes significantly, so this can materially affect rental value. Sometimes there are also strict timetables to be followed. Unless you fully understand these issues and market rates, you should take professional advice and Chartered Surveyors are the recognised experts in this field.

Lease Renewal – The courts oversee most lease renewals, as most tenants are protected by the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954, which gives the tenant the right to remain in occupation and to a new lease at current market rental value when their current lease expires. But if a tenant's lease is not governed by the Act, the landlord can legally request the tenant to leave the property. The Act lays down a set renewal procedure and certain time limits apply, so it is important both parties know their rights and serve any necessary notices on time. However, if neither party initiates the renewal procedure, the lease is deemed by law to continue at the same rent, but the tenant can vacate by giving the landlord three months’ notice. We are well placed to assist you in getting through this process and achieving the best result.

Arbitration and Expert Witness – Although lease renewals and rent reviews can cause disputes between landlords and tenants, with the former seeking the highest increase at rent review and the latter the lowest, most disagreements are settled amicably through negotiation between the respective surveyors. If an amicable agreement is not possible, the dispute will usually be referred to a third party independent surveyor, who will act either as an arbitrator, an independent expert or a Court Appointed Expert. Peter Layer is himself a long established and experienced Arbitrator and Independent Expert, who is regularly appointed by the President of the RICS to resolve a diverse range of rental and valuation disputes across the commercial property sector, so we are very experienced in advising on these matters, whichever route is being followed.

Business Rates – Business Rates are a tax based on the occupation - or ownership if vacant - of business property. Rateable Values are assessed every 5 years by the Valuation Office Agency as being a property’s theoretical rental value as at 1 April 2008 and your Local Authority collects the rates based on a nationally applied multiplier of the Rateable Value, which increases each year in line with RPI. New Rateable Values came into effect from April 2010 and many businesses have seen large increases in their assessments, which have only been partly ameliorated by a small reduction in the multiplier. If your Rateable Value is too high, you will pay more in business rates than you need and assessments can be appealed on a number of grounds, but care should be taken not to appeal assessments that may be too low, as your Rateable Value can be increased! We have been able to secure significant rates reductions for many clients and we will not charge a fee for assessing whether or not an appeal should be lodged and submitting an appeal on your behalf. Our fees are generally performance related, being based on an appropriate percentage of the reduction achieved in the Rateable Value.

With our close involvement in the market, its trends and our understanding of lease terms and valuation principles, we are well placed to assist and advise. To discuss any of the above issues relating to your property, whether you are a landlord or a tenant, please contact Peter Layer in the first instance.

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