In general, there will be no Business Rates to pay for the first three months that a property is empty. After that, a full charge will be levied, whether the property is empty or not.
Industrial buildings have an exempt period for the first six months the property is empty, after which a full charge is levied.
From the 1 April 2011, where a property is empty and the rateable value is below £2,600, no Business Rates will be payable, even after the initial exempt period has passed.
Where a non-domestic property is only partly occupied a ratepayer has two options in order for the liability to be reduced:
(1) If the unoccupied part is likely to remain empty for a long time, the ratepayer may be able to apply to the Valuation Office Agency for a division of the assessment, thereby creating two or more separate entries in the Rating List.
(2) If part of the property is unoccupied for only a short time, the ratepayer may apply to the Council for an apportionment of the rates payable.
In this case, the Council will ask the Valuation Office Agency for a certificate stating how the rateable value should be apportioned between the occupied and unoccupied parts of the property. The unoccupied part can then be treated separately to the occupied part of the property. The entry in the Rating List is not altered.
The unoccupied property rules will apply to the unoccupied portion, ie full rates will become due after 3 or 6 months depending upon the property description.