Find out if you can reduce the business rates on a partly-occupied property.

You must normally pay the full amount of business rates, even though part of the property may not be in use. There are two ways to try to reduce the amount payable, depending on how long the part of the property is likely to remain unoccupied.

Where part of a property is likely to remain unoccupied for a long time

An example of this may be where a company no longer needs all of the space it rents and intends to give up part of it when the tenancy agreement comes up for renewal.

The ratepayer can ask the Valuation Office Agency to split the rating assessment, creating two separate assessments, one for the occupied part and another for the unoccupied part. We then bill each part as a separate property.

The Valuation Office Agency may refuse to split the assessment if:

  • The change in circumstances is only temporary
  • The parts would not naturally form two separate properties
  • There is only one tenancy agreement or lease for the whole of the assessment

Split assessments

If the Valuation Office Agency agrees to split the assessment, it will value the parts based on the rent each would attract if let separately.

The total of the rateable values for the two new assessments may not be the same as the single rateable value of the old assessment.

When the relief period runs out on the unoccupied part, the rates payable may be more, or less, for the two assessments than they were for the single assessment.

Where part of a property is unoccupied for a short time

An example of this is when a company phases its move from one property to another.

As the situation is only temporary, it may not be appropriate to split the assessment. In these circumstances, the ratepayer may ask us to allow relief on the unoccupied part.

If we decide to allow short-term relief, we will ask the Valuation Office Agency to issue a certificate telling us the values for each part.

Apply for short-term relief

To apply for this short-term relief, you should write to us as soon as the property becomes partly occupied.

In your application you should include:

  • The reason why the property is partly occupied
  • The date on which it became partly occupied
  • Your estimate of when you expect it to become fully occupied or completely unoccupied
  • A plan of the property, clearly showing the occupied and unoccupied parts. This does not need to be a professionally produced plan, but it does need to be accurate enough for us, and the Valuation Office Agency, to understand the layout of the property and which parts are occupied and which parts are not.

When we receive your application, we will arrange for our inspector to visit the property to verify what you have said, after which we will consider if we can use our discretion to award short-term relief.

If we decide to allow relief, we will apply to the Valuation Office Agency for the necessary certificate. If the split between the occupied and unoccupied parts of the property are not clearly defined, the valuation office may need to visit the property to take measurements.

We may visit the property regularly to check if circumstances have changed since the certificate was issued.

Further information can be found on the exempt buildings and empty buildings relief page on the GOV.UK website.

Contact us

Business rates - billing, collection and recovery

Scroll to the top of the page