Empty Non-Domestic Properties

What is classed as an unoccupied property?

When no part of the property is occupied.

Who pays the rates on unoccupied properties?

Whoever is entitled to occupy the property pays the unoccupied property rates. This might be the leaseholder or the owner.

What rates are payable?

No rates are payable for the first three months or, in the case of a qualifying industrial property, for the first six months. If the property is still unoccupied after this time then 100% rates are payable.

From 1 April 2011 empty properties with a rateable value of no more than £2,599 are exempt from unoccupied property rates.

Certain classes of property are exempt from paying unoccupied property rates:

  • The rateable value is less than £2600
  • The property is listed
  • The property is subject to action by the Crown or local authority
  • Occupation of the property is prohibited by law e.g. under certain Health and Safety legislation
  • Properties in respect of which the ratepayer is liable are subject to insolvency proceedings, including companies in Administration (following a change to the law effective from 1st April 2008)
  • The person responsible for the Rates is acting as a personal representative of a deceased person

 Partly occupied/unoccupied property (section 44a relief)

Where part of a property is unoccupied for a short time, the Council has the discretion to apply relief for the unoccupied part of the property. The Council would ask the District Valuer to apportion the rateable value between the occupied and unoccupied parts, for the current financial year. For us to do this the occupied and unoccupied areas would have to be clearly defined and meet the following criteria:

  • The total empty period in any rate year of a hereditament must be for 3 months (or 6 months in the case of industrial hereditaments) in order for it to be considered for s44a relief
  • The empty period is a temporary change. Permanent changes should result in a change in the actual rateable value in the local rating list.

All guidance provided by the DCLG will be considered.

If you think this might apply to you please put your request for relief in writing to the Local Taxes Section. 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, clearly 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.

For more information or to request a reduction for empty rates please email: businessrates@winchester.gov.uk