Rating and empty properties
Following the 2007 Budget, the Rating (Empty Properties) Bill has now been published.
The aim is to encourage owners to bring empty, non-domestic property back into occupation by reducing business rating relief. If the Bill is passed, the changes will take effect from 1st April 2008. We sum up the main points:
Currently, most empty commercial properties receive 100% relief for the first three months that they are unoccupied and 50% relief from then on. Industrial properties and warehouses receive full exemption for an indefinite period when they are empty.
Under the Bill, once the initial three-month rate-free period ends, the property will be subject to full business rates. Properties that are currently exempt will receive a six-month rate-free period after which full business rates will apply.
Unoccupied properties belonging to charities and community amateur social clubs will be zero-rated, compared with the 90% reduction in business rates they currently receive. Partially occupied properties will be entitled to a business rates reduction on the unoccupied part, providing the property would be exempt or zero-rated were it totally unoccupied.
The Bill will also allow valuation officers to disregard deliberate changes to a property. This is to ensure that owners of empty property cannot actively make it derelict in order to avoid paying business rates.
As always, if you need commercial and pragmatic legal advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.