A test case that could have allowed second home owners to claim further business rate exemptions linked to the pandemic has been turned down by the Valuation Tribunal for England (VTE).
An appeal had been brought by a dual homeowner against a decision issued by Allerdale Borough Council, which had rejected his application for exemption in accordance with Classes G and J of The Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) Order 1992 (as amended) SI No 1992/558. This was in relation to a property in Workington, which was a second home.
Both parties agreed that:
- The appeal property was unoccupied.
- The appeal property was regarded as the appellant’s second home and had been awarded second home discount since 2008.
- The appellant’s main residence was in Northamptonshire.
- The appellant was the owner of the appeal property and the person legally entitled to occupy it.
The Class G exemption was on the grounds that he had been prohibited by law from visiting the appeal property due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions in place and his main home was hundreds of miles away. He also requested a Class J exemption on the grounds that the appeal property had been left empty as he had been required to care for a vulnerable person on the NHS shielding list. As a result, he hadn’t been able to use any of the services provided by Allerdale Borough Council.
The Council argued that Class G wasn’t applicable as this related to the property itself and not the personal circumstances of the taxpayer. Whilst the appellant had been unable to travel to property, it could have been occupied by another household as this wasn’t prohibited.
The VTE panel agreed and ruled the criteria for a Class G exemption hasn’t been met. They then went on to consider the application for Class J exemption on the grounds that the appeal property had been left empty as he had been providing care for a vulnerable person on the NHS shielding list. The panel noted that this Class related to an unoccupied dwelling that had previously been the sole or main residence of a qualifying person who had left the premises to provide care elsewhere. This appeal property wasn’t the appellant’s sole or main residence and had attracted second home discounts since 2008.
Therefore, the panel ruled the criteria hadn’t been met and the application for Class J exemption was also refused and the appeal dismissed.
The full decision can be seen here: Decisions – Valuation Tribunal Service – GOV UK