RATES are levied in England and Wales on a valuation of property made every five years. This is called the General Rate and includes charges for the following: Education (elementary and higher), poor law relief, highways, police, libraries and museums, public baths and washhouses, hospitals, parks and recreation grounds, and street lighting. Water rates are levied separately, and in rural areas certain expenses are met by a special rate.
Property is divided into two main classes for rating purposes, houses and land in the first clase and all other kind of hereditaments in the other. Gross value is defined by statute as the rent at which a hereditament might reasonably be expected to let from year to year if the tenant undertook to pay all the usual tenants rates and taxes and tithe rent charge, if any, and if the landlord undertook to bear the cost of repairs and insurance and other expenses, if any, necessary to maintain the hereditament in a state to command the rent. In order to arrive at the net annual value, which is the rateable value, certain statutory deductions and rates and charges made by the commissioners of sewers are deducted in regard to houses. These deductions are as follows:
Class 1. Houses without land other than gardens where the gross value does not exceed £10; 40 per cent, of the gross value.
Class 2. Where the gross value exceeds £10, but not £20; £4 or an amount equal to 33per cent, of the gross value, whichever is the greater.
Class 3. Exceeding £20 but not £40; £7 or an amount equal to 25 per cent, of the gross value, whichever is the greater.
Class 4. Exceeding £40 but not £100; £10 or an amount equal to 20 per cent, of the value, whichever is the greater.
Class 5. Exceeding £100; £20 together with 16 per cent, of the amount by which the gross value exceeds £100.
Class 6. Land other than agricultural lands with buildings valued together therewith as one hereditament. An amount equal to 10 per cent, of the gross value. Land (other than agricultural land) with-28 out buildings; an amount equal to five per cent, of the gross value.
In regard to London the system is a littio different. Gross value is the annual rent which a tenant might reasonably be expected, talcing one year with another, to pay for a hereditament, if the tenant undertook to pay all the usual tenants rates and taxes and tithe commutation rent charge, if any, and if the landlord undertook to bear the cost of the repairs and insurance and other expenses, if any, necessary to maintain the hereditament in a state to command the rent. The net annual value or the rateable value is the gross value after deducting the probable average cost of repairs, insurance, and other expenses. The statutory deductions allowed are as follows:
Class 1. Houses and buildings without land other than gardens where the gross value does not exceed £15; an amount equal to two-fifths of the gross value.
Class 2. Where the gross value exceeds £15 but not £20; £0 together with an amount equal to three-fifths of the amount by which the gross value exceeds £15.
Class 3. Exceeding £20 but not £40; £7 together with an amount equal to one-quarter of the amount by which the gross value exceeds £20.
Class 4. Exceeding £40 but not £100; £12 together with an amount equal to one-fifth of the amount by wiiich the gross val tie exceeds £40.
Class 5. Exceeding £100; £24 or £20 together with an amount equal to one-sixth of the amount by which the gr..se value exceeds £100, whichever is the greater.
Where the rating authority so directs, owners may be rated instead of occupiers, in which case an owner is entitled to an allowance as follows: where the owner elects to pay whether the house is occupied or not, 15 per cent., where he elects to pay while the house is occupied, 7i per eriy. Where the owner and not the issue of distress or commitment warrants.
An owner who pays rates due from an occupier is entitled to a reimbursement. And where the owner does not pay after agreeing to do so and the occupier pays, the latter may deduct the amount paid from the rent.
A ratepayer in default may he summoned before two justices, who may isstie a warrant of distraint on his goods or commit him to gaol. If he preive that he cannot pay owing to circumstances beyond his control a commitment warrant will not be issued. The justices have power to remit the rates, and the rating authority may also remit or accept a less sum in settlement.
After the issue of a distress warrant the ratepayer is bound to pay the costs in addition to the rates due.
Hates are only payable on occupied premises, but in order to escape liability the occupier must remove his furniture and cut off gas, water and electricity. An empty house furnished ready for occupation is rateable.
Appeals against rates may be made to the local assessment committee within 25 days after the draft valuation list is exhibited, and from this tribunal appeal lies to the quarter sessions. Ratepayers are entitled to inspect the ratebooks at the office of the rating authority and to take extracts from them.
UTNDER the Public Health Acts a duty is imposed on local authorities to ensure that every occupied house has an available and efficient supply of water. The authority may, if necessary, require the owner to provide such supply.
In most cases water is supplied by the authority or a private company at a charge based on the rateable value of the prop- occupier is responsible for paying the rato the water company is not allowed to cut off the supply for non-payment but may recover the cost from the occupier as rent, the water rate being a charge on the property, In other cases the supply may be cut off for non-payment, and thereafter it is an offence to use water. Water rates may be enforced by distress warrants or commitment.
Under a series of special Acts local authorities or private utility companies are allowed to supply gas and electricity, and indeed are forced to do so if the premises are within 50 yards of a main supply. Since the undertakers give the supply under statutory conditions they are not ordinarily liable for default arising out of the supply as they would be at common law under a civil contract. The special acts provide penalties enforceable by magistrates order for defaults and for the allocation to the consumer who is aggrieved of such part of the penalty as the court directs.
The meter used to measure gas or electricity is the property of the suppliers and cannot be taken under a distress warrant. The undertakers are responsible up to the entrance of the pipe or wire into the meter. Defaults arising on the other side are the responsibility of the consumer. Gas and electricity may be the subject of larceny.
It is necessary that the consumer advise the xmdertakers of his intention to quit premises by giving 24 hours notice (some authorities require longer notice) in order that the supply may be cut off. The undertakers have the right to enter premises at all reasonable times to inspect and read meters and to hinder them or to prevent them from so doing is an offence punishable by a fine. Sums due for gas or electricity are enforceable as a civil debt before magistrates, i.e.. by the person of 21 years of age is cap– able of making a will. Persons under that age who are soldiers on active service (which phrase includes a female nurse in army service) or are seamen at sea may make a valid will. The will (1) must be in writing (which includes printing); (2) must be signed at the foot by the testator or by someone for him in his presence and by his direction; and (3) the signature must b3 attested by teve witnesses. The usual attestation clause is as follows: Signed by the said testator as his last will in the -presence, of us, present at the same time, who in his presence and at his request and in the presence of each other liave hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses. No attesting witness nor the wife or husband of a witness can take any benefit under the will he or she witnesses.