|The comparable rental evidence presented by a valuation officer was insufficient to establish that there was a local rental market in small independent primary schools or to determine the rateable values of three such schools. Their respective rateable values would be determined using the contractor’s basis.|
|The appellant valuation officer appealed against determinations by the Valuation Tribunal for England of the rateable values of the three respondent small independent primary schools in north London.
The tribunal had determined the schools’ respective rateable values using the contractor’s basis. The valuation officer presented 12 comparables and information about five rating assessments of properties in several London boroughs. The collection included two day nurseries, a business providing music lessons and nine independent primary schools, three of which had been the subject of management buy-outs.
The valuation officer contended that there was a rental market in small independent primary schools and sufficient evidence in the marketplace for the schools’ rateable values to be determined by comparable rents. The schools submitted that the comparables provided were insufficient and the contractor’s method should be used.
HELD: The rateable value of the three schools would be determined on the contractor’s method using the figures which had been set by the tribunal. Although there were no precise rules about how close the comparables had to be, they had to be close enough in locality, type of occupation, size and other aspects to indicate the rental value of the properties to be valued. None of the comparables were useful: the day nurseries were not sufficiently similar, and a rental market in day nurseries did not provide useful information about any rental market in independent schools; the rents on four of the properties, including the nurseries, were not negotiated or there were close connections between the parties agreeing the rent; there was too little information provided for four properties; the localities of one independent school and the music school were not useful comparables; the music school was not a private independent primary school. The flaws in each item in the valuation officer’s collection made them either useless or of very limited value. There was no evidence in the rents, individually and taken together, that there was a market in private independent primary schools rather than a collection of rents determined on rent review or otherwise than through negotiation. The quality of each item was such that little or no useful information could be drawn from it as to the rent that any of the respondent schools would fetch on the open market. There were far fewer items of evidence than would be expected, and it resembled evidence that would have been discarded from a much larger collection prior to its use rather than a useful collection in itself. Individually or as a whole, the rental evidence presented by the valuation officer was not sufficient to determine the rateable value of each of the three respondent schools’ premises (see paras 7, 22, 25, 37-76 of judgment).