Are Business Rates payable if the property is empty?

The Government has reformed empty property rate relief in order to provide a strong incentive to bring empty property back into use. This will help to increase the supply of premises to let, and so reduce business rents and improve the competitiveness of the UK, as well as bringing forward Brownfield sites for re-development and so reduce the need for new development on environmentally valuable Greenfield land.

From 1 April 2008, most property that has been empty for more than three months or, in the case of industrial property, for more than six months will no longer receive relief from rates. After the initial three or six month rate-free period expires, empty property will be liable for 100% of the basic occupied business rate, unless it qualifies for the new zero rate provided by the Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007.

The exemptions from business rates under (Unoccupied Property) Regulations, which provided a permanent exemption from unoccupied rates to industrial properties, will be reduced to six months; the Government proposes to preserve the majority of the other existing exemptions unchanged.

The rate liability of empty property that is held by a charity and appears likely to be next used for charitable purposes, or that is held by a community amateur sports club and appears likely to be next used for the purposes of the club, will be reduced from 10% of the basic occupied rate to zero from 1 April 2008

Changes to Empty Property Rates from 01 April 2011

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has reduced the threshold rateable value on which empty rates would become liable from £18,000 to £2,600.  This means that from the 01 April 2011 any empty business property with a rateable value of greater than £2,599 will pay unoccupied business rates.  (Some properties may still be entitled to exemption - see above)

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