Occupied and unoccupied properties
What is occupation?
Occupation refers to goods or stock housed at the premises. The business rates charge starts on the date goods are moved into the premises, rather than the date the business starts to operate.
The occupier of the premises is responsible for paying business rates. This will usually be the owner or the tenant.
On occasion a landlord may charge a rent that is inclusive of business rates. In this case the landlord and occupier will decide who is responsible to make payment, but the occupier remains liable for payment, and the bill is issued in their name.
Unoccupied properties are subject to business rates charges unless a business rates relief applies. In cases where empty business rates are due, the person or company entitled to possession will be liable for the empty charge.
Business rates are not payable in the first three months that a property is not occupied, extended to six months for certain industrial properties. After this period rates are payable in full.
There are several exemptions from the unoccupied property rate and any exemption is based on the property’s circumstances, rather than the liable persons. If a new owner takes over a property that has already been unoccupied for over three months (or six months if industrial) and it remains empty, the 100 per cent unoccupied rate is charged immediately.
Empty Rates is a specialist area, and it is always advisable to seek the guidance of an expert to discuss the options available if your property is unoccupied to mitigate any costs.