Who pays business rates

Business rates for occupied properties

A person (or company) pays rates for an occupied property, if he/she/the company is in occupation of all or part of it. In rating terms, occupation of part of a property is treated as occupation of the whole. In these circumstances, the bill is calculated on the basis of full 100 per cent liability.

There are four essential criteria for rateable occupation:

  • There must be actual occupation of the property
  • The occupation must be exclusive to the occupier
  • The occupation must be of some benefit to the occupier; and
  • The occupation must not be for too transient a period.

If there is any aspect of rateable occupation which you need advice about, please contact the Business Rates team.

Unoccupied property

The owner (or person entitled to possession) may be liable to pay rates on unoccupied property. Rates are charged at 100 per cent of the amount that would be payable if the property was occupied.

Liability begins three or six months from the day after the property ceases to be occupied. If a new person becomes entitled to possession either during, or after this three month period, a further 'free' period cannot be given. Go to the Unoccupied properties page for more information.

Joint and several liability for business rates

There can be more than one liable person. People (or companies) who are joint occupiers or joint owners are jointly and severally (i.e. individually) liable for the one Business Rates bill for the property.

Reliefs and exemptions

As stated above, Business Rates are payable on both occupied and unoccupied properties. However, there are a number of reliefs and exemptions which apply to Business Rates. In the case of exemptions, these particularly apply to unoccupied properties go to the Business rates relief page for more information.

How to make an appeal on your business rates

If you disagree with the council's decision about your business rates, you can contact us explaining what you object to and why - see the Business rates appeals section for more information.

What is a non-domestic property?

Non-domestic properties - often referred to as 'hereditaments' - are business properties such as shops, offices, warehouses and factories and any other property that is not classed as domestic, such as that occupied by charities and voluntary organisations. In some cases, properties may be used for both domestic and non-domestic use (for example, a shop with a flat above it), in which case both council tax and business rates will be charged on the relevant portion of the property.

What if I work from home?

If you work from home, we may charge business rates for the part of the property used for work, and you will have to pay council tax for the rest of the property (although the valuation band of your domestic property may change). It will depend on the circumstances of your case.

What if I own a holiday home or a bed-and-breakfast?

Unless you plan to let your holiday home for at least 140 days a year, you will not have to pay business rates on the property. You will have to pay council tax instead.

If you offer bed-and-breakfast accommodation in your own home to six people (or fewer), you will not be liable for business rates as long as you are living in the property. Instead, you will have to pay council tax on the whole property.

If you let your holiday home for 140 days a year or more, or you provide bed-and-breakfast for more than six people at any one time, you will have to pay business rates on the whole or part of your property. You will still have to pay council tax on the part of your property you use as your home.

Are any non-domestic properties exempt from business rates?

Some types of property are exempt from business rates. This means that no business rates are charged for them. Exempt properties include:

  • agricultural land and buildings
  • fish farms
  • some churches and other places of public religious worship
  • sewers
  • public parks
  • certain property used for the disabled
  • swinging moorings for boats

Last reviewed: 28 - 02 - 2012

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