News Release

More Winners Than Losers in NI Rates Reform - UU Expert

15th June 2005

There will be more winners than losers when the new changes in the domestic rates are introduced in Northern Ireland, according to a University of Ulster built environment expert.

Dr William McCluskey of the UU’s School of the Built Environment says the proposals will introduce a more equitable way of collecting rates and do away with the many anomalies in the present rating system.

“The rating system in Northern Ireland has remained almost unchanged since it was introduced in 1852. The rateable value of domestic property is currently based on the rental value of the property but in the future it will be based on the capital value of the property,” explained Dr McCluskey.

Although over 70% of houses in Northern Ireland are owner occupied and the private rented sector represents only a small proportion of the housing stock, domestic rates are currently valued on the basis of rental values in the late ‘sixties, which was the last time domestic property was all revalued.

“Because the valuation list is well out of date, there are significant anomalies in the way the rates burden is distributed among householders.”

He continued: “The proposed changes will be much more equitable. Our research has shown that for about 60% of householders, there will be either no change or a reduction in their rates bill. Other householders though could find their rates bill increasing, even doubling when their property is revalued. The overall effect in terms of the money generated by the rates will be ‘revenue neutral’.”

Dr McCluskey admitted that the capital rateable value of property was something of a double edged sword.

“Householders generally look to have their property valued as high as possible when they are trying to sell, but if their house has increased in value far more than the average house they could be facing a big increase in their rates bill.”

He continued “The government do, however, propose to soften the effect of any large rate bill increases by introducing a system of transitional relief.”

Dr McCluskey and his UU colleagues Lay Cheng Lim and Peadar Davis are delivering a paper at a conference in Dublin this week hosted jointly by the International Real Estate Society and the European Real Estate Society. The title of their paper is: “Residential Property Taxation in Northern Ireland - A Question of Reform.”

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