How you can pay less business rates

Empty and Part Occupied Property

Empty properties

When a property becomes vacant, it is exempt from rates for three months if it remains vacant, or six months for qualifying industrial properties (please see below).  At the end of this period, rates become payable at the normal rate. 

Empty rates continue to be payable until somebody occupies the property. It is important to note that the three/six month rate free period applies to the property only. Therefore, if you purchase an empty property you will be immediately liable for empty rates if it has been vacant for more than three/six months prior to you buying it.


Statutory Instrument 1989/2261 prescribes various circumstances in which owners/leaseholders will be exempt from liability for rates on unoccupied non-domestic property.

  1. the whole hereditament has been unoccupied for a continuous period of less than three months (see above)
  2. the owner is prohibited by law from occupying a hereditament or from allowing it to be occupied
  3. the hereditament is kept vacant by Crown or local or public authority action which has been taken with a view to prohibiting its occupation or to acquiring it
  4. it is subject of a building preservation notice as defined by Section 58 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1971 (b) or is included in a list compiled under Section 54 of that Act
  5. it is included in the schedule of monuments compiled under Section 1 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act, 1979
  6. it is a qualifying industrial hereditament see below
  7. it's rateable value of the property is less than £2,600 with effect from 1st April 2011. Please note during the period 1st April 2009 to 31st March 2010 empty properties with a rateable value of less than £15,000 were exempt. This temporary exemption was extended for the period 1st April 2010 to 31st March 2011 to include all empty properties with a rateable value less than £18,000
  8. the owner is entitled to possession only in his capacity as the personal representative of a deceased person
  9. there subsists in respect of the owner's estate a bankruptcy order within the meaning of Parts VIII to XI of the Insolvency Act, 1986
  10. the owner is entitled to possession of the hereditament in his capacity as trustee under a deed of arrangements to which the Deed of Arrangement Act, 1914 applies
  11. the owner is a company which is subject to a winding-up order made under the Insolvency Act, 1986 or which is being wound up voluntarily under the Act
  12. the owner is entitled to possession of the hereditament in his capacity as liquidator by virtue of an order made under Section 112 or Section 145 of the Insolvency Act, 1986     

Qualifying industrial hereditament

Certain industrial hereditaments are exempt from Unoccupied Non-Domestic Rate for a period of upto six months from the date on which the property became vacant. In order to qualify for this exemption the hereditament must meet certain criteria. All buildings comprised in the hereditament must be:

  1. constructed or adapted for use in the course of trade or business
  2. constructed or adapted for use for one or more of the following purposes and one or more purposes ancillary thereto:
    1. the manufacture, repair or adaptation of goods or materials, or the subjection of goods or materials to any process
    2. storage (including storage or handling of goods in the course of their distribution)
    3. the working or processing of minerals
    4. the generation of electricity    

Please note, retail hereditaments do not qualify under this scheme. The above regulations shall not apply where any building or any part of any building comprised in the hereditament is constructed or adapted for the purpose of the retail provision of:

  1. goods
  2. services, other than storage or distribution services, on or from the hereditament

Part occupation

If part of your property is temporarily vacant you may be able to claim a reduction on the vacant part. Wherever possible, you should request the Valuation Officer to separately assess the vacant premises so that you may claim empty rate relief on it. However it is not always possible for the Valuation Officer to split a property in this way. If you think you may be eligible to claim relief or are unsure you should contact us for assistance.

Relief from Business Rates

Hardship Relief
In very exceptional circumstances the Council can use its discretion to award a reduction in your bill on the grounds of hardship. It is important to note that when deciding whether to award relief, the elected members of the Council take many factors into account. If you wish to apply for hardship relief, contact us and we will send you more information.

Mandatory Charity Relief
This relief is available to registered charities provided the property they are claiming for is used wholly or mainly for the purposes of the charity. Application forms are available from the Business Rates section, Revenues. If your organisation is a registered charity, you will receive a reduction of 80% in your bill.

Discretionary Rate Relief
An organisation that is not a registered charity may also claim relief, provided that it has a similar charitable status (although not actually registered with the Charity Commissioners). If you wish to apply please complete the application form on the right hand side of this page.

Where the 80% mandatory relief has been granted, the Council has the discretion to remit all or part of the remaining 20% of a charity's bill. Please contact the Business Rates section for further information.

The Council also has the discretion to remit all or part of any rate bill in respect of a property occupied by certain bodies not established or conducted for profit. Please contact the Business Rates section, Revenues for further information.

In 2006 the Council adopted a standard mechanism for determining applications for discretionary relief. A copy of the policy and an application form can be found by using the links in the left hand menu. Please note, this policy is currently subject to review and any changes to the scheme will be published at a later date.

For further information on Mandatory and Discretionary Rate Reliefs and relevant application forms please see the documents attached to this page.

Rural Rate Relief

The occupier of a general store or post office in a settlement appearing on the Councils rural settlement list (see below) is entitled to rate relief if it is the only such store or post office in that settlement and its rateable value is £8,500 or less. Relief is given at 50% of the full rates bill, or the transitional bill where transitional arrangements apply. Relief can also be given to the only petrol filling station and public house if it is an area listed below. In order to qualify for this the rateable value of the petrol filling station or public house must be below £12,500.

Discretionary Rural Rate Relief

The council has the discretion to remit all or part of the remaining 50% if rural rate relief has already been granted. Please contact the Business Rates section, Revenues for further information.

We also have the discretion to remit all or part of rate bills on other property in a settlement on the rural settlement list if the rateable value is £16,500 or less and we are satisfied that the property is used for a purpose that benefits the local community.

Small Business Rates Relief

From the 1st April 2005 certain hereditaments which meet specific criteria can qualify for up to 50% relief from their business rates. For further information please refer to the page entitled Small Business Rates Relief or contact us: 

Last updated: 16 October 2015 14:45:48