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Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2006, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Thousands challenging rates value
Northern Ireland's houses
Northern Ireland's householders are being told their homes' value
More than 7,000 householders have challenged the rateable estimates of their homes, the Department of Finance has said.

So far more than 700,000 households have been notified about changes to the capital value of their homes, used to calculate next year's rates bill.

The last letters of notification will be sent to the Dungannon, Larne, Moyle and Banbridge areas next week.

Those who wish to challenge or query the estimate have six months to do so.

The first valuations were sent to householders in Northern Ireland at the start of July.

One resident of south Belfast said that she would consider challenging her bill.

Elvie Horne, 75, who lives in the Malone area, said she had been told by the VLA that her estimated new bill would be 2,600, but that she had not yet received written confirmation from the agency.

Mrs Horne said that some of her friends would see their rates bill rise from 1,900 to 5,800.

"I think there will be a lot of people around here who will challenge it," she said.

45,000 drop

The SDLP's Tim Attwood successfully challenged his evaluation and said that everyone should double-check their quotations.

Mr Attwood, who recently received his letter, said his home had been overvalued by 45,000.

"We recently received correspondence from the Valuation and Lands Agency stating that the valuation of our house, in Andersonstown in west Belfast, was 175,000. I thought this was over-valued," he said.

"I checked other houses in our area and established that the VLA had valued other similar properties at 130,000. When we contacted the VLA, they said it may have been a clerical error and agreed to send someone out to re-assess the property."

Mr Attwood said that if he had not queried the valuation his rates bill would have been 1,010 instead of 750.

Anyone who wants to check the value of their home can do so by logging onto the Valuation and Lands Agency's website at www.mycapitalvalueni.gov.uk.

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