Regulations Confirm Increased Empty Property Relief Threshold for 2010/11
In 2007, the Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007 (REPA 2007) removed business rates relief for most unoccupied properties with effect from 1 April 2008. REPA 2007 was widely criticised by the property industry as an additional strain on businesses in a time of economic difficulty.
In response to this criticism, the 2008 Pre-Budget Report announced that with effect from 1st April 2009, empty properties with rateable values of up to £15,000 would be exempt from business rates for the year 2009/10. This resulted in an estimated 70% of empty commercial properties being exempt from paying business rates.
The Government announced in the 2009 Pre-Budget Report, that the temporary increase in the threshold for empty property relief would be extended for a further year. The Non-Domestic Rating (Unoccupied Property) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2010 (2010 regulations) which will come in to force on 1st April 2010 provides that for the financial year 2010/11, empty commercial properties with rateable values of up to £18,000 will be exempt from business rates.
However, the 2010 regulations provide that the threshold will reduce to £2,600 for financial years beginning on and after 1 April 2011.