Empty office

Viewpoint - 08/03/2024

Upcoming Changes For Ratepayers With Empty Commercial Properties

Stephen White in the business rates team examines the implications of the summary of responses to the Government’s Business Rates Avoidance and Evasion Consultation.

Find out more

The Government launched the Business Rates Avoidance and Evasion Consultation in July 2023, with a summary of responses to this published alongside the 2024 Spring Budget.

When the consultation was launched in mid-last year, the Government stated that the two main objectives were:

  • To test reforms to Empty Property Relief and to help close known avoidance practices.
  • To gather further information on wider avoidance or evasion risks and on poor agent activity within the business rates system, and to explore options to strengthen the system.

This month saw the release of the Government’s response to the consultation, with the main outcomes as follows:

  • The Government is extending the Empty Property Relief ‘’reset period’’ from six weeks to three months (13 weeks) from 1 April 2024 in England.
  • There is also to be a further consultation on a ‘’General Anti-Avoidance Rule’’ for business rates in England.
  • A commitment to improved communications to ratepayers to help combat ‘’rogue’’ business rates agents.

The current position with empty property rates is overdue wider reform. A main aim of the Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007 was to stimulate the economy by encouraging landlords to relet empty properties, providing a period of empty rate relief (three months for most property classes, six months for industrial properties), after a period of at least six weeks continuous occupation. Since the introduction of this legislation back in April 2008, the objective has simply not been achieved.

Due to uncertain economic conditions, it is common practice for landlords with lengthy void periods and/or ahead of impending redevelopment to invoke empty rate mitigation strategies to reduce the empty property rate burden, by way of claiming further periods of relief.

Extending the ‘’reset period’’ is not expected to deter the use of mitigation strategy, rather frustrate businesses who genuinely require relief from empty rate liability. 

For a detailed analysis of your 2023 rating list Rateable Value and rating advice, contact our Business Rates team. 


Get in touch


Get the latest insight, event invites and commercial properties by email