Find out more about business rates for empty properties
If the whole property is empty and unused, no business rates are payable for three months from the date it became unoccupied. After the three month period, 100% of the charge becomes payable. Properties that are classed as industrial are entitled to six months exemption while empty. Properties with a Rateable Value of under £2900 are also exempt while empty. Other types of properties are also exempt from empty rate charge.
Whoever is entitled to occupy the property pays the unoccupied property rates. This might be the leaseholder or the owner.
Partly occupied/unoccupied property (section 44a relief)
Where a property is partly occupied, the ratepayer has two options for the a non-domestic rate liability reduction. These options are:-
OPTION 1 – SPLIT THE PROPERTY IN THE RATING LIST
Where the unoccupied part is likely to remain empty for a considerable period of time (e.g. over one year), it may be possible for the ratepayer to apply to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to split the rating assessment to create two or more separate assessments which will reduce the rating liability for the occupier.
OPTION 2 – MAKE APPLICATION FOR S44A RELIEF
If only part of the property is unoccupied for a short period of time, it is not always practical for the Valuation Officer to create two separate assessments in the Rating List. For example, where a company phases its removal from one property to another or renovation works are being carried out.
Section 44A applications will be dealt with in accordance with Government legislation and Council policy and it is at the discretion of the Council whether to ask the VOA to determine the rateable values of the occupied and unoccupied parts. If requested by the Council, the VOA will issue a Section 44A certificate detailing the apportioned rateable values. The unoccupied part of the property will then benefit from a three month exemption from rates, or in the case of certain industrial properties a six month exemption will apply. Following the expiry of this exemption period the occupied rates will again apply to the whole property.
Any ratepayer wishing to apply to the Council for S44a relief should do so in writing, either by a letter or email to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as the property becomes partly occupied or when work commences. Applications should be accompanied by a plan of the whole property with measurements and the occupied and unoccupied parts clearly marked. The Mobile Locality Officer will need to visit to inspect the unoccupied element of the property to clarify that works have commenced.
Keeping us informed
We regularly inspect unoccupied properties. However you must still tell us when there is a change of circumstances, for instance if someone has occupied, or you have sold, the property.