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Exemptions for empty business premises

Business premises that become empty are exempt from paying business rates for a set period of time.

If you have a non-domestic property used for business that has become empty, you can inform us using the online form below.

We regularly inspect unoccupied properties. You must tell us when there is a change of circumstances, for example if you sell the property or if it becomes occupied. You can contact us by email to

Find out more about business rates.

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Rate-free periods

When a non-domestic property becomes completely empty, no business rates are payable for the first:

  • three months for commercial premises (for example, shops and offices)
  • six months for industrial premises (for example, warehouses and workshops).

The rate-free period applies from the date the premises first becomes empty. 

If the premises are purchased by a new owner or the lease is assigned to a new tenant and remain empty, the new ratepayer will only be entitled to any remaining balance of the original three-month or six-month period.  

If the property is still unoccupied after the three-month or six-month period, then 100% of business rates are payable.


After the initial three-month or six-month rate-free period expires, the ratepayer of an empty property will be liable for 100% business rates unless any of the following circumstances apply:

  • the rateable value is less than £2,900
  • the owner is prohibited by law, by action by the Crown or by any other local authority from occupying the property
  • the property is held by a charity or a community amateur sports club and appears likely to be next used for charitable purposes or for the purpose of that club
  • the person responsible for the rates is acting as a personal representative of a deceased person
  • the property is the subject of a building preservation notice
  • the property is a listed building
  • he property is included in the schedule of monuments compiled under s1 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
  • the ratepayer is a company subject to insolvency or bankruptcy proceedings, or is in administration.

Exemptions also apply in the following insolvency or debt administration situations:

  • a bankruptcy order has been issued within parts eight to 11 of the Insolvency Act 1986
  • the owner is a trustee under a deed of arrangement to which the Deeds of Arrangement Act 1914 applies
  • the owner is a company subject to a winding up order made under the Insolvency Act 1986
  • the owner is entitled to possession of the property in their capacity as liquidator or administrator under s112 or s145 of the Insolvency Act 1986.

Partly occupied and unoccupied properties

Where part of a property is unoccupied for a short time, we have the discretion to apply a reduction for the unoccupied part of the property.  

We would ask the Valuation Office Agency to apportion the rateable value for the whole premises between the occupied and unoccupied parts. 

For us to do this, the occupied and unoccupied areas would have to be clearly defined and meet the following criteria:

  • the total empty period in any rate year must be no more than three months (or six months for industrial properties) 
  • the empty period is a temporary change, permanent changes should result in a change in the actual rateable value in the local rating list.

Remove a property from the rating list

If your property is in poor condition and cannot be economically repaired, the Valuation Office Agency may decide that it should be taken out of the rating list altogether.

If you are currently undertaking substantial refurbishment or reconstruction of the premises, the Valuation Office Agency may consider a temporary reduction in the rateable value of your property.

We do not make these decisions. For more information, contact the Valuation Officer on 03000 501 501 or visit the Valuation Office Agency website.

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