It has for some years been a bit of an oddity that with the economy buoyant, quite generous reliefs from business rates have been available where commercial premises are unoccupied.
Ironically, a change in the law reduces these reliefs just as the economy looks to be coming off the boil.
At present, non-domestic properties generally are exempt from rates for three months and pay rates at 50 per cent thereafter until they are again in occupation. Industrial properties and storage facilities enjoy 100 per cent rate relief until re-occupied. From 1 April 2008, subject to designated exemptions, the 50 per cent rate will disappear – after three months for non-domestic properties generally and after six months for industrial and storage properties.
For landlords with property portfolios including commercial properties currently unlet, the Act provides a strong incentive to find tenants for the property before the impact of the rate increase.
For details on the changes see the Valuation Office Agency website.