Coronavirus – how occupiers can reduce their business rates liability

Published on
2 min read

Although it will not assist businesses with short-term pressures on wage bills, rent and utilities, the Chancellor announced on 17 March 2020 that all retail, hospitality and leisure firms will receive a 12 month exemption from business rates.

However, where does that leave the remaining businesses, who are also going to have to face hard decisions over the coming months? Even when the virus outbreak comes under control, the financial impact will mean that firms may not have the need for the bricks and mortar footprint they had prior to the outbreak.

At 50% of the rental value for their properties, business rates are a drain on occupiers at the best of times.

Options may include:

  1. Apply for the mandatory empty rates relief. Business can apply for up to 3 months’ relief from rates if a building lies empty (6 months for industrial).
  2. If the effect is long-lasting, consider the use of mitigation strategies. The 3 or 6 months’ relief is re-triggered by a period of occupation for 6 weeks or more. Businesses can employ schemes which make use of this relief or seek assistance from professional rates mitigation providers.
  3. Bring forward any plans for redevelopment or refurbishment works to a property. Substantial works which render a building incapable of occupation bring rates relief for the period of works. Firms will have to undertake a cost:benefit analysis to assess the cost of such works vs rates savings achievable.

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