Under the current system, empty and unoccupied properties receive either a three month void period (for vacant offices, retail, leisure and motor trade properties) or a six month void period (for vacant industrial properties). This void period relates to the property and not the ratepayer so if the property changes hands during this period the new ratepayer is only entitled to the remaining balance of the void period. After the relevant void period expires the empty property will then be liable for 100% of the basic occupied non-domestic rate, so there is no reduction in the amount of rates payable after the initial void period.
The current system came into force from 1 April 2008. The Government introduced the changes in order to provide an incentive to bring empty property back into use. The Government believes this will help increase the supply of premises to let, improve the competitiveness and bring forward brown field sites for redevelopment.
From 1 April 2017, the rateable value threshold below which empty properties are exempt from rates is £2,900 (previously from 1 April 2011 this was set at £2,600). There are a number of existing exemptions, for more information on them please see Business Rates - Exemptions.
Properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs are not liable to empty property rates if the property's next use is likely to be wholly or mainly for charitable purposes or for the purposes of a sports club.
For further information please contact the business rates team (see contacts section of this page).
Last reviewed: 16 - 03 - 2017