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We are very concerned to see Welwyn and Hatfield Council increasing rents on our local community centres and community businesses such as Erol’s Café and the Furniture Shop in Town Centre Hatfield.
The Council claim that these rent increases of around 300% to 400% are in line with “Fair Market Rents”. We have asked Andrew Bacon of JMA Chartered Surveyors, who is a frequent expert witness in rent and rates appeals to look into this for us.
“I have looked at our databases and have located a number of rents agreed in the last year or so at Hatfield Town Centre agreed by professional agents acting on behalf of the Council.
Typically they are small shops which are benefiting from substantial small business rate relief. Larger shops don’t benefit from that.
Nonetheless they don’t suggest much more than 20% rent growth over the past 7 years.
Hardly surprising given that much of Town Centre is dilapidated.
Indeed old 50’s/60’s Town Centres have been the hardest hit since the recession.”
On the available evidence a 20% increase is the Fair Market Rent increase and larger units such as Erol’s Café and the Furniture Shop should pay less than that. We ask the Council to justify their claim, and meet with representatives of the Chamber and the businesses concerned to clarify their position.
It should be noted that the business rates revaluation due in 2017 will be based upon rents agreed in 2015. So these proposed rent increases, if agreed, will convert into very significant business rates increases for all businesses across Welwyn and Hatfield in 2017. Business Rates cost jobs, so if you are looking to protect your and your children’s interests and live in a thriving, dynamic and interesting community, then contact your Councillor or the Chamber on 01707 373700 and make your thoughts known.