Unoccupied Property Rating
Unoccupied properties are exempt from empty property rates for at least 3 months.
This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. After this period, rates are payable in full unless the unoccupied property rate has been reduced by the Government by order. In most cases, the unoccupied property rate is zero for properties owned by charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs.
In addition, there are a number of further exemptions from the unoccupied property rate, including Listed Buildings, properties where the ratepayer is either Bankrupt or Liquidated and properties with a Rateable Value below a prescribed amount. The period of exemption from business rates for empty properties with a rateable value of less than £15,000 was extended for one year from 1 April 2009 until 31 March 2010. The Government further extended empty property relief in 2010-11 so that all empty properties with a rateable value below £18,000 were also exempt from business rates.
With effect from 1 April 2017, only unoccupied properties with a rateable value below £2,900 will receive the 100% exemption. There are also other exceptions from empty property rates, some of which are as follows:
- No business rates are payable on empty property for three months after the property becomes vacant.
- Industrial premises, such as warehouses, are exempt for a further three months i.e. 6 months in total
- Listed buildings are exempt until they become occupied again
- Properties owned by charities are exempt if the property's next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for charitable purposes
- Community amateur sports club buildings are exempt if their next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for a sports club
If the unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, it will be shown on the front of your bill.
Changes to Exemptions From October 2013
All newly built commercial properties completed between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016 are exempt from empty property rates for the first 18 months, up to the state aids limits.
The purpose of the measure is to help stimulate construction. Construction decisions take into account the risk of paying empty property rates on newly built commercial property if the property does not become fully occupied straight away. Reducing this risk may incentivise some commercial property projects to go ahead that would not otherwise, helping to stimulate the construction industry.
State Aid is generally prohibited by European Community rules. However, there are exceptions to this, and some financial aid is allowed under the ‘de minimis’ rules if the total amount of funding received by an organisation does not exceed a prescribed limit. Currently, funding over a three year period must not cumulatively exceed €200,000.
With effect from April 2014, a temporary 50 per cent relief on business rates bills was introduced for new occupants of retail premises that had been empty for a year or more at the point of occupation. The maximum duration of the relief for the new occupant is 18 months. The relief became available to businesses that moved into empty retail properties on or after 1 April 2014 and on or before 31 March 2016;