No business rates are payable for the first three months that a property is empty, or six months in the case of industrial property. If a property is still empty at the end of the three or six month period, then business rates will be charged at 100 per cent, unless:-
The following will remain subject to a zero rate when empty if:-
• The property has a rateable value of less than £2,600.
• Occupation prohibited by law
• Vacant due to action taken on behalf of the Crown
• Subject to building preservation notice – listed building
• Included in schedule of monuments as compiled under Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Areas Act 1979(b)
• Owner entitled to possession only in his capacity as personal representative of a deceased person
• In respect of owner’s estate there subsists a bankruptcy order
• Owner entitled possession as trustee under deed of arrangement
• Owner is a company subject to winding-up order under the Insolvency Act 1986 or being wound up voluntarily under that act
• Owner in administration or subject to administration order
• Owner entitled to possession in capacity as liquidator
Exemption will also be approved where the ratepayer is a charity or trustee for a charity and it appears that when next in use the property will be wholly of mainly used for charitable purposes.
The same applies where the ratepayer is a registered club and it appears when next in use it will be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of that registered club or clubs.
No further exemptions will be applied until full occupation charged for period of six weeks or more.
Partly occupied/unoccupied property (section 44a relief)
If a property is only partly occupied the council has the discretion to ask the valuation officer to apportion the rateable value between the occupied and unoccupied parts, for the current financial year. This rate relief is intended for properties where there are practical difficulties in occupying or vacating a property in one operation. It is not intended that S44a be used where part of a property is temporarily not used or its use is temporarily reduced i.e. where plant, equipment or machinery remain in it.
No business rate is payable on the unoccupied portion for 3 months (or 6 months in the case of industrial hereditaments. After the 3 month, (6-month) period S44A relief will apply.
If you think this might apply to you please put your request for relief in writing to Local Taxation Services, Southampton City Council, Civic Centre, Southampton, SO14 7LY. Please provide details on the date of vacation of the relevant part of the property, the reason for the vacation and provide plans of the property, marking out the empty part.
Keeping us informed
We regularly inspect unoccupied properties. However, you must still tell us when there is a change of circumstances, for instance if someone has occupied or you have sold the property.