As from 1 April 2008 there will be no rate relief for empty properties. Currently, if a property is let or occupied for 6 weeks it is entitled to a rate free period of 6 months. Landlords should therefore consider a short-term letting so as to qualify for the rate free period before 1 April. Partial relief is available where part of a building is occupied. Exemptions from rates can apply where a building is perceived to be unlettable, for example it has an asbestos problem. The Government has deferred the introduction of regulations to deal with potential avoidance tactics. It will monitor any incidences of avoidance and is prepared to use its new powers to address such activity.
For further guidance please contact Nick Arthur on 01271 372128.