The owner of a south city Dublin commercial premises, which had been vacant for six years, has won a High Court challenge to a valuation tribunal's finding about its value for rating purposes.
Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy said the valuation tribunal was "manifestly deficient" in its statutory obligation to give reasons for its determination of the net asset value of 37 Lower Clanbrassil Street, owned by Marie Boland.
Although the tribunal was required to give a written judgment outlining its reasons for arriving at its valuation, it failed to do so. The reasons it gave “are not merely opaque – they are non-existent”, the judge said.
Ms Boland bought the premises in 2004. It is located in the middle of a block of commercial properties built in the 1870s.
Despite trying to let it through a reputable estate agent, she says it has been unoccupied since 2008 and has fallen into a state of significant disrepair.
In 2011 all commercial properties throughout the State were revalued and in 2013, Ms Boland received a notice her property had been revalued at just over €10,000 (for rental purposes).
That meant her previous commercial rates bill of €1,770 for the year was to be increased by more than 50 per cent.
She appealed, arguing the valuation was supposed to reflect the net annual rental value.
Because the premises had been vacant for six years and had proved impossible to let, the €10,000 figure was not correct,she said. She believed the valuation should have been €2,000. If the premises was let, it could only be used as a store for non-perishable goods because of its condition, she said.
After the valuation tribunal sent an officer out to inspect the property, the net asset value was raised slightly to €10,450. Following a hearing, the tribunal confirmed that figure in a judgment of May 13th, 2015.
Quashing that decision, Ms Justice Murphy said there were no findings of fact by the tribunal and no reference to the applicable law in its judgment.
After setting out Ms Boland’s grounds for appeal, there followed “a formulaic statement that the tribunal has considered all the relevant material”, the judge said.
It was not sufficient for the tribunal to “baldly state” it had considered all the evidence and it must show by its judgment it had done so, she said.