What if my property is empty?

Once a property is empty there will be a 3 month 100% exemption period. This is extended to 6 months in the case of certain industrial properties. At the end of this time, rates will be payable in full unless the unoccupied property falls into one of the exemption categories listed below.

The liability falls to the owner, leaseholder or tenant. There is no new free period should the ownership change whilst the property is still empty. A new free period cannot be granted unless the property is reoccupied for at least 42 days.

Exemptions from unoccupied property rates

For some properties a 100% exemption will apply until the property is reoccupied. These include:

  • A property with a rateable value of less than £2,900.
  • Properties owned by charities if the property's next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for charitable purposes.
  • Properties owned by Community Amateur Sports Clubs if the property's next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for a sports club .
  • Listed buildings.
  • Ancient Monuments included in the Schedule of monuments compiled under section 1 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
  • Properties where the owner is prohibited by law from occupying it or allowing it to be occupied.
  • Properties vacant due to action taken by the Crown or the local authority with a view to prohibiting the use or acquiring it.
  • Properties where the person entitled to possession does so as a personal representative of a deceased person, a liquidator or trustee or where the owner is subject to bankruptcy proceedings.

What if my property is in a poor condition and/or not capable of beneficial occupation?

If your property is not capable of occupation – for instance, if it is in need of, or is undergoing, major renovation works – you must approach the Valuation Office and request that the property be removed from the rating list altogether. In the meantime, whilst the property remains in the local rating list the non-domestic rates are due and payable.

Part unoccupied rate

Where part of a property is unoccupied for a short time, the Council can ask the Valuation Officer to apportion the Rateable Value of the property between the occupied and unoccupied parts. The empty part will receive complete exemption for three months (or six for an industrial property). After the initial rate-free period expires the occupied business rate will apply to the whole property.

If you wish to apply for part unoccupied rates please send an A4 plan of the property as soon as the area has been cleared highlighting the “empty” areas for which relief is requested to the business rates team, using the details in the sidebar.

Completion notices for new buildings

The purpose of a completion notice is to establish the date from which a new building is to be treated as completed for the purpose of unoccupied property rating. It does not establish the date from which liability to pay empty property rates starts, it serves to establish the day from which the three or six month period of exemption starts.

The law requires the Council to issue a completion notice for a newly erected building as soon as it comes to our attention that the work remaining can reasonably be expected to be completed within three months. A completion notice may be served on the whole of a building or part of a building.

The completion notice will show the date on which the Council considers the building could reasonably be completed. If you do not agree with the completion date you should write to the Council immediately. We will try to come to an agreement with you, but if agreement cannot be reached you may appeal to the local Valuation Tribunal.