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Legal News | 19.02.21


You do not have to pay business rates on empty offices for the first three months. After this time, most businesses will be required to return to full business rates. This may hit some businesses and landlords hard, so it is worth considering how to minimise. Some of the reliefs are worth taking advice about.

Extended Relief

  • The properties that may be entitled to extended empty property relief are:
    Industrial premises (for example warehouses) are exempt for an additional three months;
  • Listed buildings are exempt until they are reoccupied;
  • Buildings with a rateable value lower than £2,900 are exempt until they are reoccupied;
  • Properties owned by charities are exempt only if the next use will be mostly for charitable purposes; and
  • Community amateur sports club buildings are exempt only if the next use will be mostly as a sports club.

Retail Premises

During the coronavirus pandemic it is particularly likely that empty retail properties will require business rates relief. The rules that apply in this case are as follows:

  • 100% relief for a continuous period of three months only;
  • Simple changes of ownership during the three-month period do not trigger a new three-month exemption;
  • Short-term occupation of the property of six weeks or less will not be taken into account; and
  • If the property is let or occupied for a period of more than six weeks, the rates exemption will end at the start of that period, but when the property again becomes vacant, a new exemption period can be claimed – known as the “six week rule”.


An insolvent occupant can be a real headache for a landlord. However, it is worth speaking to us about the business rates implications if you are affected by this. In some cases you can stop the clock on business rates, which may help if you are seeking to save money whilst re-letting business space.

If you are considering any of the reliefs, or letting your premises to a charity, it is worth taking professional advice. As the rules surrounding reliefs can be complex, this should be a dedicated business rates specialist like Goodman Nash; a firm based in Devizes and Bristol and who we regularly work with.

If you would like more specific advice on the business rates relief available to you, please get in touch with your usual contact or email: oliver.price@wansbroughs.com.