Sargant, 23,366, and Vol. IV. of Min. of Ev., App. No. XL, par. 20. De Bock Porter, Vol. IV. of Min. of Ev., App. No. IX., pars.
Mathews, 22,116-27; Costelloe, 20,227-8, 20,232.
Mr. Harper thought that in certain cases a detailed examination of each hereditament would not be necessary, though every street would have to be gone into, but that in others, in such a place, for instance, as the Strand, every property would have to be inspected, the superficial area measured up, and a note taken of dominating easements.
Mr. Harper's view that in ordinary cases, the difference between an expert estimate of the annual value of the site, and the true rateable value of the whole hereditament, would fairly represent the structural value, has been mentioned in Chapter VI.
The exceptional cases of sites, which cannot be fully used owing to the unsuitability of existing structures, Mr. Harper divides into two classes: (1.) Where the value of the site alone, if cleared, would exceed the present rateable value.
(2.) Where the value of the site alone, if cleared, would not exceed the present rateable value.
He instances Holland House and Park as a good example of the first case, and a row of houses in part of Shaftesbury Avenue, before it was widened, as typical of the second. Before the improvement was effected, the houses were rented at 45l. each. At the present time the site of each, if cleared, would be worth 40l. a year. But the rateable value of the existing premises should now be about 60/. Deducting from this 60I. the annual equivalent of structural value, namely 35l., would leave 25l., instead of 40l., as the fair assessment of the value of the site under existing conditions. In the first case, Mr. Harper considers that no hardship would be inflicted upon the owner by assessing him upon the full annual value, because it would pay him to destroy the structure which now hinders his receiving the largest possible return from his land.
In the case, however, of a lease, Mr. Harper admitted that it would be necessary for the freeholder and lessee "to pool their interests" to do this, but, in the event of their not coming to terms, he thought that the site value rate should still be imposed, as he saw "no reason why the community should suffer in taxation," and that "it appeals to me from the wider point of view of justice, as the placing of a tax upon a class of owners who, from their peculiar circumstances, do not bear their fair share of taxation."
Harper, 22,476-9, 22.486, 22755-62. Harper, Vol. IV. of Min. of Ev., App. No. VII., par. 1 (b).
Harper, Vol. IV. of Min. of Ev., App. No. VII., par 1(b).
In the second case, he states, that it would be a hardship to compel payment upon the full value of the site, when only part of that value can be enjoyed under existing conditions.
"It is true that the whole value could be obtained if freeholder and lessee agreed to combine in order to demolish the building; but in that event they would jointly incur a loss of structural value, ex hypothesi greater than their gain in site value. In such cases, therefore, it is suggested that only that part of the value of the site which is actually enjoyed or yields revenue should be included in the assessment. The proper proportion might be arrived at by deducting the annual equivalent of the structural value from the rateable value."
It would, he thought, be impossible to take account of restrictive covenants in valuing a site, but he added: "I should only ignore them in the first instance, because there would be no means of getting them disclosed regularly until the time arrived when somebody's shoe pinched, then that somebody would cry out, and the matter being disclosed, attention could be given to it."
Sir John Barton, Commissioner of Valuation, Ireland, told the Royal Commission that, if he had to make a re-valuation in Ireland, there would be no difficulty in valuing land apart from the buildings upon it, provided that he could get an equitable staff thoroughly conversant with the conditions of land tenure and site values.
When making re-valuations in towns, Sir John Barton stated that generally speaking he values the site and the structure upon it separately. He obtains these particulars as a check on the rental of the premises. They are not published, but are used by him when defending cases which are appealed against.
Harper, Vol. IV. of Min. of Ev., App. No. VII., par. 1(6).
Sir John Barton has since informed the author that, when making his recent re-valuation of Belfast, the valuation of the site in nearly every case represented the value to the owner in its existing circumstances (rebus sic stantibus) the element of the possible value under different conditions not being considered.
Mr. Fletcher Moulton also thinks that a separate valuation of sites is possible. He says: - "It is often stated in answer to the contention that land should be separately taxed that it is impossible to separate the value of the land from that of the buildings upon it. In my opinion there is no substance in this. In my experience I have always found surveyors able and ready to value land in towns by itself, and in many cases they prefer to value it in this way. I am certain that no difficulty would be found in carrying out this method of apportioning taxation if it were adopted." He is further of opinion that the cost has been exaggerated.
Mr. Costelloe also generally supported Mr. Moulton's views.
On the other hand, a number of surveyors pointed out to the Local Taxation Commission, practical difficulties, such as the time and expense involved in making a separate valuation of sites; the number of appeals which would ensue; the difficulty of taking into consideration restrictive covenants and easements, and of estimating the value of a site if put to a different use than the existing one.