Unoccupied property rates
Once a non-domestic property becomes empty, it's entitled to a three-month exemption from empty property rates, or six months in the case of an industrial property. Thereafter, the property attracts full business rates (RV x standard multiplier).
A non-domestic property is empty for rating purposes when all removable goods have been removed. Fixtures and fittings, for example, shop counters, or built-in display units, do not need to be removed.
However, under current legislation the property would remain exempt from empty property rates while the following circumstances prevailed:
- Where the rateable value is less than £2,600, or less than £2,900 from 1 April 2017
- Where the property is owned and likely to be next occupied by a charity or a community amateur sports club
- Where the property is a listed building
- Where occupation is prohibited by law
- Where a property is kept empty due to action taken by or on behalf of the Crown or any local or public authority with a view to prohibiting occupation
- Where the property is owned by a company in administration
- Where the person entitled to possession of the property is acting in the capacity as:
- A personal representative of a deceased person
- A liquidator or as a trustee under a deed of arrangement or where the owner is subject of bankruptcy proceedings
Empty property rate relief for new builds
Empty new builds completed between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016 will be exempt from payment of empty property rates for up to 18 months, up to state-aid limits.
The 18 month period includes the initial three- or six-month initial exemption. The relief will continue beyond 30 September 2016 for those properties that become eligible before that date.
Those properties entitled to this relief will have been identified by us.
Partly occupied properties
The general principle in rating is that occupation of a property ‘in part’ attracts the same liability for NDR as occupation of ‘the whole’.
However, if part of a property is going to be unoccupied for a period then the rateable occupier could apply to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to have the property split into separate rating assessments.
Where the VOA isn't able to formally split the current rating assessment between occupied and unoccupied elements, we have a discretion under section 44A of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to award a temporary relief for the unoccupied element.
In order to award this relief, you'd need to provide plans of the property, indicating occupied and unoccupied elements - a council officer would then inspect the property to verify the veracity of those plans. Once verification is done, we'd need to consider whether the granting of relief would be appropriate and equitable to local council tax payers to do so. If it was considered appropriate a request would be sent to the VOA, along with a copy of the plans, for them to apportion the rateable value between occupied and unoccupied elements. This is a desk exercise by the VOA.
Keeping us informed
We regularly inspect unoccupied properties. However, you must still tell us when there is a change in circumstances, for example if the property has been re-occupied or you've sold the property.