Exclusive: GPs denied five-figure sums on rent

Up to three quarters of UK practices may be receiving too little notional rent, with some losing out on five-figure sums each year, GP can reveal.

Mr Lewis, Bute Surveyors: When practices have their rent revalued, it is 'always worth getting your own opinion from a specialist'
Mr Lewis, Bute Surveyors: When practices have their rent revalued, it is 'always worth getting your own opinion from a specialist'

Practices have already received five-figure uplifts after challenging the level of rent they receive from their PCT, according to a firm of surveyors that specialises in GP premises funding.

GP Surveyors, which has worked with around 2,000 practices, believes between 70-80 per cent of practices could challenge their notional rent and receive an uplift. The average uplift achieved is around 15 per cent, but can be up to 80 per cent, the firm claims.

The system for resolving notional rent disputes has been reformed to prevent the NHS Litigation Authority being inundated with unresolved disputes. The changes aim to stop PCTs blocking challenges by practices.

James Williams, senior surveyor at GP Surveyors, said the new process for dealing with notional rent disputes had been issued as a direct result of the company challenging PCTs.

'In most cases, PCTs will resolve the dispute locally. But sometimes PCTs have misunderstood notional rent and tried to charge practices to resolve the dispute.'

Mr Williams added that the new process would help to prevent many cases going as far as the NHS Litigation Authority.

He cited a series of reasons why practices' notional rent may be set too low. District valuers often use historic or incorrect figures for practices' floor space or can miss other features that could boost the value of the premises, he said.

They may also fail to take account of existing deals with other practices, he added.

Premises Underpayments

  • Between 70 and 80 per cent of practices may be underpaid on notional rent.
  • Typical claim boosts payments by 15 per cent.
  •  District valuers may use out-of-date figures when calculating rent, or fail to take account of other key factors.

Source: GP Surveyors

Andrew Lewis, a partner at Bute Surveyors, agreed that 'a substantial proportion' of practices will have their rents uplifted when challenged. 'It's right that notional rents are challenged. The district valuers are not wrong, but there is an incorrect assumption that they are independent - they are not. They are paid for by the PCT.'

GPC negotiator and premises expert Dr Peter Holden agreed that a proportion of practices were likely to be underfunded on notional rent.

He said when practices have their rent revaluation every three years it was 'always worth spending a bit of money on getting your own opinion from a specialist'.

However John Hearle, GP's premises expert and chairman of surveyors Aitchison Raffety, thought estimates that three quarters of practices were underpaid on notional rent sounded 'incredibly high.'

Do you have a financial question about premises? Ask our expert John Hearle

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