A ratepayer is liable for the full non-domestic rate whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied. Where a property is partly occupied for a short time, the local authority has discretion in certain cases to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part. Full details can be obtained from the business rates office.
Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to 6 months in the case of certain industrial properties. After this period, rates are payable in full unless the unoccupied property rate has been reduced by the Government by order. 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 your bill.
The Government introduced 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 onto the 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.
Ratepayers who occupy a property with a rateable value which does not exceed £50,999 (and who are not entitled to other mandatory relief or are liable for unoccupied property rates) will have their bills calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier, rather than the national non-domestic rating multiplier.
In addition, generally, if the sole or main property is shown on the rating list with a rateable value which does not exceed £15,000, the ratepayer will receive a percentage reduction in their rates bill for this property of up to a maximum of 100%. For a property with a rateable value of not more than £12,000, the ratepayer will receive a 100% reduction in their rates bill.
Generally, this percentage reduction (relief) is only available to ratepayers who occupy either-
(a) one property, or
(b) one main property and other additional properties providing those additional properties each have a rateable value which does not exceed £2,899.
The rateable value of the property mentioned in (a), or the aggregate rateable value of all the properties mentioned in (b), must not exceed £19,999 outside London or £27,999 in London on each day for which relief is being sought. If the rateable value, or aggregate rateable value, increases above those levels, relief will cease from the day of the increase.
The Government has introduced additional support to small businesses. For those businesses that take on an additional property which would normally have meant the loss of small business rate relief, the Government has confirmed that they will be allowed to keep that relief for a period of 12 months.
An application for small business rate relief is not required. Where a ratepayer meets the eligibility criteria and has not received the relief they should contact their local authority. Provided the ratepayer continues to satisfy the conditions for relief which apply at the relevant time as regards the property and the ratepayer, they will automatically continue to receive relief in each new valuation period.
Certain changes in circumstances will need to be notified to the local authority by a ratepayer who is in receipt of relief (other changes will be picked up by the local authority). The changes which should be notified are-
(a) the ratepayer taking up occupation of an additional property, and
(b) an increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer in an area other than the area of the local authority which granted the relief.
Charities and registered CASCs are entitled to 80% relief where the property is occupied by the charity or the CASC and is wholly or mainly used for the charitable purposes of the charity, or for the purposes of the CASC.
The local authority has discretion to give further relief on the remaining bill. Read the Guidelines for discretionary rate relief for charities.
The local authority has discretion to give relief to non-profit making organisations.
Local authorities have a general power to grant discretionary local discounts. Full details can be obtained from the local authority.
The Government gave funding to local authorities to provide a discount worth up to £1,000 in 2014-15 and up to £1,500 in 2015-16 to retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000.
The Government also gave funding to local authorities to provide a 50% discount for 18 months for those businesses that moved into retail premises that have been empty for a year or more. This was available for businesses which moved into empty premises between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2016.
There are no further retail discounts from 1 April 2016.
The local authority has discretion to give hardship relief in special circumstances. Full details can be obtained from the local authority.
The government has put in place regulations to allow for the cancellation of certain backdated business rate liabilities. The relevant regulations, the Non-Domestic Rating (Cancellation of Backdated Liabilities) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/537) can be found on the legislation website. Learn more about Business Rates information letters.