Subject to special enactments, people are treated as occupiers of land, land being understood as including not only the surface of the earth but all strata above or below. The occupier, not the land, is rateable; but the occupier is rateable in respect of the land which he occupies. Whether the person sought to be rated has the enjoyment of the land ‘to the substantial exclusion of all other persons’ is a question of in fact is the occupation in respect of which the person is said to be rateable and, in that respect, it is immaterial whether the title to occupy is attributable to a lease or a licence.
Lord Russell of Killowen said: ‘In the next place I would make a few general observations upon rateable occupation. Subject to special enactments, people are rated as occupiers of land, the land being understood as including not only the surface of the earth but all strata above or below. The occupier, not the land, is rateable; but, the occupier is rateable in respect of the land which he occupies. Occupation, however, is not synonymous with legal possession: the owner of an empty house has the legal possession, but he is not in rateable occupation. Rateable occupation, however, must include actual possession, and it must have some degree of permanence: a mere temporary holding of land will not constitute rateable occupation.’
. . And ‘Where there is no rival claimant to the occupancy, no difficulty can arise; but in certain cases there may be rival occupancy in some person who, to some extent, may have occupancy rights over the premises. The question in every such case must be one of fact – namely, whose position in relation to occupation is paramount, and whose permission in relation to occupancy is subordinate; but, in my opinion, the question must be considered and answered in regard to the position and rights of the parties in respect of the premises in question, and in regard to the purpose of the occupation of those premises.’
Lord Russell of Killowen
 AC 511
England and Wales
Cited – Cinderella Rockerfellas Ltd v Rudd (Valuation Officer) CA 11-Apr-2003
The taxpayer appealed against a rating assessment on a barge permanently moored at a riverbank. He claimed that as a chattel, it should not be rated.
Held: The vessel was a chattel, but its occupation could be an occupation of the riverbed. . .
Cited – Regina v Central Valuation Officer and another ex parte Edison First Power Limited HL 10-Apr-2003
Powergen sold a property to Edison. Powergen paid rates under a separate statutory rating regime, and paid an additional thirteen million pounds under an apportionment. Edison later complained that in being rated itself, the authorities had . .
Cited – Tallington Lakes Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v Grantham Magistrates Court Admn 25-Nov-2010
The company appealed against liability orders made against it for non-payment of domestic rates, saying that in each case it had not been the rateable occupier. The property had been subdivided and let to companies of which the appellant was a . .
Cited – Reeves (Listing Officer) v Northrop CA 17-Apr-2013
The taxpayer had successfully challenged the entry of his houseboat in the rating list at the Valuation Tribunal, but this had been re-instated at first instance. He said that the boat, as a registered seagoing vessel was not a houseboat, and that . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.181048