Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. After this period, rates are payable in full regardless of whether there is a change of owner or tenant. In most cases the unoccupied property rate is zero for properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs. In addition, there are a number of exemptions from the unoccupied property rate.
If the unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, it will be shown on the front of this bill.
Who is liable to pay the empty charge?
Liability to pay the empty charge falls upon the person entitled to possession of the whole hereditament – the 'owner'.
Once the property becomes occupied again (either in whole or part) then the occupier will become liable to a full charge at 100%.
The owner should note however that if the period of occupation is less than six weeks, then in deciding whether the property has been continuously unoccupied, it is deemed to have been unoccupied for that period. This means in effect that no further three months 'free period' is allowable if the property is occupied for less than six weeks either during the 'free period' or during a period subject to an empty rate charge.
Empty New Builds
The government is introducing a new temporary measure for unoccupied new builds from October 2013.
Unoccupied new builds will be exempt from unoccupied property rates for up to 18 months (up to state aid limits) where the property comes on to the Rating list between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016.
The 18 month period includes the initial 3 or 6 month exemption and so properties may, if unoccupied, be exempt from non-domestic rates for up to an extra 15 or 12 months.