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Business Rates Exemptions – A Guide

January 3, 2022

Exempt Properties 

There are many reasons a property could be exempt from paying business rates. The following types of properties are exempt whether they are occupied or unoccupied:

  • agricultural land and buildings
  • fish farms
  • certain churches and places of worship
  • sewers
  • public parks
  • certain properties used for disabled people
  • swinging moorings for boats

The following types of properties are exempt when they are unoccupied:

  • listed buildings
  • properties with a rateable value less than £2,899 (from 1 April 2017)
  • empty because of action by a local authority or court
  • the estate of a deceased person
  • land not being used
  • warehouses or industrial properties (exempt for up to six months only)
  • prohibited by law from being occupied
  • subject to bankruptcy or winding up procedures
  • owned by companies in administration
  • owned by charities or registered community amateur sports clubs (if the next use of the property will also be for charitable purposes)

Empty Properties

You do not need to pay business rates for the first three months once your property becomes empty or six months for industrial properties including warehouses. After the initial three or six month exemption period, you would usually be expected to pay the full amount of business rates thereafter.

If your property is dilapidated or being redeveloped, it is possible to have it deleted from the rating list which would result in no business rates being charged until the property is ready to be occupied

Empty property relief and zero rating for business rates will not be granted until the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and/or local council are satisfied the property is empty or not fit for occupation. This would normally require applications or an appeal against the rateable value to be submitted. Appeals and applications can be made directly to the council or VOA or via professional business rates advisors or chartered surveyors acting as agents on behalf of the ratepayer.

Partially Empty Properties

Section 44a of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 enables councils to grant business rates relief on a business premises that is partly occupied, provided that it is for 'a short time only'. You can apply for Business Rates Section 44a Part Occupied Relief by submitting a request in writing to your local council. Any request for Section 44a business rates relief must include the date upon which the business premises will become part-occupied along with a plan of the property clearly marking the areas that are occupied and unoccupied. Your plan must demonstrate how the unoccupied part will be brought back into use and within what timescales. Retrospective claims for Section 44a will not normally be considered by councils.

Once a request has been submitted to your local council, an inspection is normally carried out by the council business rates officers and if Business Rates Section 44a Part Occupied Relief is agreed, then a request will be submitted by the council to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for a Part-occupied Certificate to be issued, for the agreed period of Rate Relief. 

Once the Valuation Office certificate is issued an amended Business Rates Bill will be sent to the ratepayer showing the amount of Rate Relief granted and the period for which Business Rates Section 44a Part Occupied Relief has been granted. The relief will normally end automatically according to the agreed timescales.

If you would like to find out if your property is eligible for business rates exemption or if any other business rates relief is available for your business, you can contact the CPRA business rates department on 020 7770 8000 or email info@cpragroup.com. CPRA are specialists at reducing business rates costs. Any initial business rates advice provided is free and without obligation.

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