Unoccupied properties

If a business premises is empty, you will not have to pay business rates for a limited period of time.

For most types of business premises, you don't have to pay business rates for the first three months they are unoccupied. For some industrial properties, such as factories and warehouses, we extend this to six months.

We only allow  one rate-free period each time a property becomes unoccupied. So, if you take over a property that is already unoccupied, you will only benefit from this allowance for the remainder of the three or six month period.

After this period, for most properties, you will have to pay rates in full.

Extension of relief for empty new builds

The government introduced a temporary measure to extend the empty rate relief for newly built commercial property. This is designed to encourage new construction.

Empty new builds completed between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016 could be eligible to be exempt from empty property rates for up 18 months following the completion date.

The 18 month period includes the initial three or six month exemption.

Exemptions from business rates

Some properties do not have to pay business rates when unoccupied, these include:

  • Listed buildings and ancient monuments
  • Land (such as surface car parks)
  • Properties where the law forbids occupation
  • Where the crown or a local authority has taken action with a view to forbidding occupation of the property, or to acquiring it
  • Properties where the ratepayer is the personal representative of someone who has died
  • Where the person entitled to possess the property is subject to bankruptcy or winding up proceedings
  • Properties with a rateable value of less than a specified amount. From 1 April 2017, the government set the value at £2,900
  • Agricultural land and premises
  • Premises used for public religious worship
  • Properties that are wholly used for the training, welfare and other associated services for disabled people

These last three are also exempt when occupied.

If you are responsible for paying rates on an unoccupied property and think you may be entitled to one of the above exemptions, please contact us using the contact details on this page.

Did you find what you were looking for?Did you find what you were looking for?
    1. We use your views to improve our website. If you have a query about our services, please email

    1. We use your views to improve our website. If you have a query about our services, please email


Business rates - billing and collection
Tel: 01252 398331
View full details


A - Z of Council Services