Exemptions for Business Rates

Empty and unoccupied properties

To receive an exemption a property will need to be classed as being empty and unoccupied, specifically: 

  • Empty properties are empty of stock, paperwork, goods of trade.
  • Unoccupied properties are vacant* i.e. unused/not trading
  • The property is classed as empty and unoccupied from the original vacation date (unused and empty of goods of trade)

*Plants, machinery and abandoned goods, including tables and chairs, can be left as they will be used when the property will be next in use. Renovation work also does not constitute occupation of the property.

Length of exemption

Three month exemptions will normally apply to empty and unoccupied:

  • Retail properties
  • Offices
  • Non-industrial properties (properties used for leisure, education and health etc.)

Six month exemptions will normally apply to empty and unoccupied:

  • Non-retail distribution warehouses
  • Factories
  • Storage units
  • Industrial workshops

Ongoing exemptions will apply to empty and unoccupied properties:

  • With Rateable Values of £2,899 or below
  • Listed Buildings (via Historic England)
  • Which consist of vacant land only
  • When the company entitled to possession is in liquidation or administration they will receive an exemption until their liability ends or the situation at the property changes

After an exemption, empty rate charges equivalent to full rates (calculated using the higher multiplier) normally apply.

Information to note

  • It is important to email the Rates Team of any changes so that vacant periods can be monitored and relief claims verified at the time
  • Small Business Rate Relief cannot be applied to unoccupied properties
  • Reoccupations must exceed a six-week period (continuous use) before any new exemption period can apply
  • Liability for empty rate charges falls upon the owner, defined as ‘the person or company entitled to possession’