05 Jan 2018

Queensland Property Sector Questions Integrity of Land Valuations

Queensland’s property sector has raised significant concerns about a decision not to issue new statutory valuations for a number of the state’s most significant local government areas, arguing that the refusal to issue new valuations might adversely impact landowners who are suffering the effects of a slowing or changing market.

Unveiling its latest analysis of the state’s property market earlier this month, the Queensland Valuer-General Neil Bay has issued new statutory land valuations for only 22 of the state’s 62 rateable local government areas.

The valuations will form the basis upon which government ratings and state land tax are calculated throughout the 2018/19 financial year.

In the case of the 40 local government areas for which new valuations were not issued, valuations will be considered to have been unchanged from those applicable in 2017/18.

These include significant LGAs such as Brisbane, Townsville, Logan and Ipswich.

That has the Queensland division of the Property Council of Australia concerned about landowners being slugged with charges beyond what is reasonable given current market conditions.

In a statement, Property Council Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said many landowners might find themselves being impacted by slowing conditions but stuck paying land tax and rates based upon values which had been issued at the peak of the market.

Mountford also raised concern about the integrity of the system in light of the high number of LGAs where revaluations had not occurred.

Under the Land Valuation Act 2010, valuations are to be issued annually across the state except under the exceptional circumstance where the Valuer-General, after consultation with local government and industry groups, determines there has been insufficient market movement in a local government area to warrant an annual valuation.

“Valuations are meant to be undertaken annually, and are primarily used for the purpose of setting local government rates and state government land tax,” Mountford said.

“Such a scaled back annual valuation is not a good look and raises serious questions about the state’s valuation system.

“Has the government made this decision because the State Valuation Service doesn’t have the resources to undertake the task? Or perhaps the state is looking to ensure its land tax revenue is locked in at a certain level for next year? Either way, it’s not the basis of a fair tax system.”

Mountford said this was especially concerning as in Brisbane alone, as many as 1,200 objections were lodged in respect of the valuations provided last year.

But Valuer-General Neil Bray defended the decision not to undertake a revaluation of the non-revalued areas.

“The decision not to undertake a revaluation for LGAs such as Brisbane, Townsville, Logan and Ipswich was made following consultation with those councils, stakeholders and industry representatives, and consideration of the property market survey report,” he said in a statement.

“Valuers research the property market, examine trends and sales information for each land use category and inspect vacant or lightly improved properties that have recently been sold.

“The property market survey reports for those LGAs not being revalued showed minimal movement across most market segments. In Brisbane, for example, there were some small pockets that showed some change, however overall the changes did not justify inclusion in the annual valuation program.”

Bray said it was neither unprecedented nor unusual for new valuations not to be issued in each local government area every year.

None of the Townsville, Logan City or Ipswich City LGA were revalued in either 2014 or 2016, whilst Brisbane skipped revaluations in 2006 and 2009, he said.

Those unhappy with their valuations could lodge objections and could appeal to the Land Court where they were dissatisfied with the outcome, he pointed out.

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