Unoccupied Business properties

In this section, you will find further information relating to Unoccupied Business properties

What classes as an unoccupied business property?

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.

A building is classed as empty (unoccupied) if it isn't being used and all stock and effects have been removed (apart from fixtures and fittings).  

A change in ownership, lease or tenancy termination does not start a further rate free period. 

The liability for empty property rate rests with the "person (or company) entitled to possession". This could be the tenant or leaseholder (if there continues to be a valid tenancy or lease) or the owner of the property. 

How to get a new/ extend your exemption period

After the three or six month rate free period expires, empty property is liable for 100% of the basic occupied business rate unless:- 

  • the rateable value is less than £2,900 from 1 April 2017  

  • occupation is prohibited by law 

  • the Crown or council has taken action to buy the property or to prohibit occupation 

  • it's a listed building 

  • it's an ancient monument

  • the ratepayer is a charity and the property's next use will be completely or mainly for charitable purposes  Mandatory & Charitable Relief

  • the ratepayer is a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) and the property's next use will be completely or mainly for sport Mandatory & Charitable Relief

  • the ratepayer is only the ratepayer because they are the personal representative or executor of someone who has died. 

Unoccupied properties are also exempt where any of the following insolvency or debt situations apply: 

  • there's a bankruptcy order in respect of the ratepayer or their estate 

  • the ratepayer is a company in administration, in liquidation, or subject to a winding-up order 

  • the ratepayer is the ratepayer because they are a trustee under a deed of arrangement  

How to apply for empty property relief

We'll automatically apply empty property relief for the initial rate-free period when you tell us the property has become empty. 

After that, you'll need to  contact the Business Rates team if you think you are entitled to further relief.

What happens next

You'll get a new bill from us showing you don't have to pay anything for the rate-free period. This bill will give the figures for the whole year, but once the 3 or 6 month period is over, you will get another bill with a charge. 

The property will show on our records as empty until you tell us otherwise.

Keeping us informed

You must contact the Business Rates team to tell us when a property becomes occupied, the exemption no longer applies or if the property has been sold.  

Even if you aren't getting any empty property exemption, it's important that our records are up-to-date so you pay the right amount. Your bill might be lower when the property is occupied than when it isn't. 

We do check up regularly on empty properties claiming reliefs and exemptions. 

If we find you're claiming empty property relief for a property that doesn't count for the relief anymore, we'll send you a backdated bill for the full amount of rates due. You'll need to pay within 14 days. 

Please contact the office to request this by emailing us at or telephoning us on (01902) 696669.

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