Relief and Unoccupied Properties

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Relief and Unoccupied Properties

Information about relief that is available to Non-Domestic properties.

This page covers Non-Domestic Rate Relief for:

  1. Unoccupied Properties
  2. Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs
  3. Rural Rate Relief - Village Shops, Food Shops and Post Offices
  4. Rural Rate Relief - Village Public Houses and Petrol Filling Stations
  5. Other Discretionary Rate Relief
  6. Small Business Rate Relief
  7. Public House Relief Scheme

Spring Budget 2017

Each spring the Chancellor of the Exchequer presents the government's plans for the economy. This includes information on where the government plans to enhance or cut investments.

The new measures announced by the Chancellor in the 2017 spring budget are as follows;

  • support for small businesses losing Small Business Rate Relief to limit increases in their bills to the greater of £600 or the real terms transitional relief cap for small businesses each year 
  • providing English local authorities with funding to support £300 million of discretionary relief, to allow them to provide support to individual hard cases in their local area 
  • introduction of a £1,000 business rate discount for public houses with a rateable value of up to £100,000, subject to state aid limits for businesses with multiple properties, for one year from 1 April 2017 (please see below for further details).

We are waiting for further instruction from the Department for Communities and Local Government including details of eligibility in order to be able to update our business rates systems and accounts.

In the meantime it is important that you continue to pay your business rates according to your most recent bill. If we need to make an adjustment to your business rates account as a result of the changes which results in a credit on your account we will either refund that or offset against future instalments. A revised bill will be issued.

Any future updates will appear on this page.

1. Unoccupied Properties

Unoccupied and Unfurnished

Properties that have been empty for less than three months, or in the case of some industrial properties, for less than six months will receive an exemption from Business Rates. After those initial three or six months rate-free periods, the responsible party will then be liable for 100% of the Business Rates. Please note that this exemption applies from the first day that the property becomes unoccupied, regardless of any change in liable party. Properties with a rateable value of under £2600 (under £2900 from 1st April 2017) will remain exempt until they are no longer unoccupied. If you would like to apply for this exemption then please write to us and confirm the date the property became unoccupied and unfurnished.

Partially Occupied

If a property is only partly occupied, the Council has the discretion to request that the Valuation Officer apportions the property's Rateable Value between its occupied and unoccupied parts. Normal rates would then be charged on the occupied part, with the rules for empty property rating, as described above, applying to the unoccupied part. If you would like to apply for this then please contact us to arrange for a visiting officer to view your property.

Further information on unoccupied property rating may be obtained from the Business Rates Team on 01424 787000.

Uninhabitable

If a property is not capable of beneficial occupation, for instance if it is in poor condition and cannot be economically repaired, and has not been intentionally damaged to avoid payment of rates, the Valuation Office may judge that it should be taken out of the rating list altogether. Please contact the Valuation Office for further information by email ratingsoutheast@voa.gsi.gov.uk or phone 03000 501 501.

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2. Relief for Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs

Mandatory Relief

When a non-domestic property is occupied by a charity or a Community Amateur Sports Club it may qualify for 80% mandatory charitable relief.

Charities

With regard to occupied property, two requirements must be met:

  1. the ratepayer must be a charity or trustees for a charity; and

  2. the hereditament must be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes (whether of that charity or of that and other charities).

With regard to unoccupied property, two requirements must be met:

  1. the ratepayer must be a charity or trustees for a charity; and

  2. it must appear that when next in use the hereditament will be wholly or mainly used for charitable purposes (whether of that charity or of that and other charities).

Exempt Charities

If you are an exempt charity we would require a letter from Inland Revenue saying you are entitled to an exemption from taxes under the provisions of section 505 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1988. Please send this evidence in with your application.

Community Amateur Sports Clubs

Two requirements must be met:

  1. the rate payer must be registered as a Community Amateur Sports Club under the Corporation Tax Act 2010; and

  2. the hereditament must be wholly or mainly used for the purposes of the club itself, or for the purposes of the club and other Community Amateur Sports Clubs.

An application form can be downloaded below to complete and return.

pdf icon Mandatory Relief Form for Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs [133kb]

Once entitlement is established, relief will continue from year to year without re-application but a check will be made from time to time to confirm the above conditions are still met. 

Any change in entitlement to this relief must be notified to the Business Rates team within 28 days. New occupiers will need to make their own application.

Discretionary Relief

Further relief for Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs from all or part of the remaining 20% of their rate charge can be allowed.

An application form for this relief can be downloaded below.

pdf icon Discretionary Relief Form for Charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs [158kb]

Please complete and return both pages of the form. Applications MUST be accompanied by the audited accounts and forecasts specified in the form.

A fresh application is required each financial year for relief to continue.

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3. Rural Rate Relief for General Stores, Food Shops and Post Offices

Mandatory Relief

General Stores, Food Shops and Post Offices may be entitled to Mandatory Rural Rate Relief of 50% (increased to 100% with effect from 1st April 2017), provided they meet the following conditions:

  1. They must be within a "Rural Settlement" (defined in the Rural Settlement List compiled by the Council).
  2. The rateable value of the property must not exceed £8500.
  3. They must be used, in whole or part, as a General Store, Food Shop or Post Office.
  4. They must be the only General Store, Food Shop or Post Office in the settlement.

A General Store, Food Shop and a Post Office in the same settlement can qualify for relief.

A General Store is one in which the business consists wholly or mainly of the sale by retail of food for human consumption (excluding confectionery) and general household goods.

A Food Shop is one in which the business consists wholly or mainly of the sale by retail of food for human consumption. This excludes confectionary, supply of food for consumption on the premises and supply of hot food for consumption off those premises however Food Shops that only sell a small amount of heated food will be eligible.

An application form for this relief can be downloaded below.

pdf icon Mandatory Rate Relief for Village Shops and Post Offices [154kb]

Once entitlement is established, relief will continue from year to year without re-application but a check will be made from time to time to confirm the above conditions are still met.  New proprietors will need to make their own application.

Discretionary Relief

Further relief for village shops and post offices for the remaining 50% of their rates bill (pre April 2017) can also be agreed.

An application for this relief can be downloaded below.

pdf icon Discretionary Rate Relief Form for Village Shops and Post Offices [94kb]

Both completed pages of the application MUST be accompanied by the trading accounts and forecast specified in the form.

A fresh application is required each financial year for relief to continue.

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4. Rural Rate Relief for Public Houses and Petrol Filling Stations

Mandatory Relief

Public Houses and Petrol Filling Stations may be entitled to Mandatory Rural Rate Relief of 50% (increased to 100% with effect from 1st April 2017), provided they meet the following conditions:

  1. They must be located within a 'Rural Settlement' (defined in the Rural Settlement list compiled by the Council).
  2. They must be used as a Public House or a Petrol Filling Station.
  3. The rateable value of the property must not exceed £12,500.
  4. They must be the only Public House or Petrol Filling Station in the settlement.

An application form for this relief can be downloaded below.

pdf icon Mandatory Rate Relief Form for Village Public Houses and Petrol Filling Stations [154kb]

Once entitlement is established, relief will continue from year to year without reapplication, but a check will be made from time to time to confirm the above conditions are still met. New proprietors will need to make their own application.

Discretionary Relief

Further relief for village Public Houses and Petrol Filling Stations from the remaining 50% of their rates bill (pre April 2017) can also be agreed.

An application form for this relief can be downloaded below.

pdf icon Discretionary Relief Form for Village Public Houses and Petrol Filling Stations [94kb]

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5. Other Discretionary Relief

Voluntary Organisations and Sports Clubs (not Community Amateur Sports Clubs)

Relief of up to 100% can be allowed to institutions or organisations, not established or conducted for profit and whose main objects are charitable, philanthropic, religious or concerned with education, social welfare, science, literature or the fine arts.  An application for this relief may be downloaded. The completed application MUST be accompanied by the copies of the accounts and forecasts shown.

Relief of up to 100% can be allowed to the ratepayers of properties wholly or mainly used for purposes of recreation, and the occupier is a club, society or other organisation not established or conducted for profit. Application for this relief can be made on the form which may be downloaded. Applications MUST be accompanied by the copies of the accounts and forecasts shown.

pdf icon Discretionary Rate Relief for Charities, Sports Clubs and Voluntary Organisations [158kb]

Other Rural Businesses

Relief of up to 100% can be allowed to other village shops and rural businesses, of any sort, located in a "Rural Settlement" provided the property has a Rateable Value that does not exceed £16,500 at the beginning of the rating year concerned, and is used for the purposes which are beneficial to the local community.  The interests of the Council Taxpayers must also be considered. You may download an application form for this relief below which must be accompanied by the copies of the accounts and forecasts shown.

pdf icon Discretionary Rate Relief Form for Other Rural Businesses [156kb]

Business Hardship

Relief of up to 100% of the rates on ANY property in the District can be allowed on the grounds of hardship.  This means not only the hardship caused to the ratepayers by payment of the rates, but also the loss of the local community by the possible closure of the business, depending on the proximity and availability of alternatives. Applications for this relief can be made on the below form which may be downloaded. Applications MUST be accompanied by the trading accounts and forecasts shown.

In all cases, an applicant is required to provide copies of trading accounts for the past two years, and a forecast for the current year.  If these are not available for any reasons, other evidence of the financial position of the business MUST be provided.  Applications will NOT be considered without this information.  Relief is only allowed for a year at a time, and a fresh application is required each year for relief to be continued.  Applicants are advised to provide as much information as possible with an application, to avoid delays in a decision being made.

pdf icon Rate Relief Form on Grounds of Hardship [218kb]

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6. Small Business Rate Relief

Small business rate relief can only be claimed for one property. The relief is only available to ratepayers who occupy either:

  • one property with a rateable value of £12,000 or less (£15,000 from April 2017) or;
  • one main property and other additional properties providing the additional properties each have a rateable value below £2,600 (£2,900 from April 2017), and the aggregate rateable value of all your properties is below £18,000 (£20,000 from April 2017).

Ratepayers who satisfy these conditions will have the bill for their sole or main property calculated using the lower small business non-domestic rating multiplier rather than the national multiplier that is used to calculate the liability of other businesses.

From 1 April 2017 you will pay the small business multiplier if your property has a rateable value below £51,000.

  • 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 - 48.0p instead of 49.3p
  • 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 - 48.4p instead of 49.7p
  • 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 - 46.6p instead of 47.9p

In addition:

  • if the rateable value is £6,000 or less (£12,000 from April 2017), you will get a 100% discount;
  • if the rateable value is between £6001 and £12,000 (£12,001 and £15,000 from April 2017), the discount is calculated on a sliding scale between 0 - 100%.

Taking on Additional Properties

In previous years, if you took on a second property with a rateable value of more than £2,599 you would no longer qualify for Small Business Rate Relief. From 14 February 2014 ratepayers continue to receive Small Business Rate Relief on the first property for 12 months, even when taking on a second one. From 1 April 2017 this threshold rises to £2,899.

You will not be entitled to Small Business Rate Relief if:

  • You are in receipt of Mandatory Charitable Relief.
  • The property is empty.

How do I apply for Small Business Rate Relief?

To apply for SBRR you must complete and sign the application form below and return it to the Business Rates team:

pdf icon Small Business Rate Relief Application Form [175kb]

Backdating Small Business Rate Relief

Small business rate relief can be backdated to 1st April 2010 as long as you have met the qualifying criteria throughout.

If your property was entered onto the Valuation List retrospectively, you can apply for the relief to be backdated as far back as 1st April 2005. However, you must apply within six months of the date that the Council was notified of the alteration to the Valuation List.

Changes in Circumstances

Certain changes in circumstances need to be notified to the Business Rates team by the ratepayer. The changes which must be notified are:

  1. the ratepayer taking up occupation of a property they did not occupy at the time of making their application for relief, and
  2. an increase in the rateable value of a property occupied by the ratepayer.

Further information on any of the above relief may be obtained from Rother District Council on (01424) 787000.

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7. Public House Relief Scheme

A £1,000 business rates discount for occupied public houses with a rateable value of up to £100,000 is available for one year from 1 April 2017 (subject to meeting State Aid requirements).

Application forms have been issued to those that may be eligible for this relief, however, if you believe you would qualify then please complete and return the application form.

Who is eligible for this relief?

The Government's policy intention is that eligible pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000 should:

  • be open to the general public
  • allow free entry other than when occasional entertainment is provided
  • allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed
  • permit drinks to be purchased at a bar.

Who is not eligible for this relief?

Those not eligible for relief include (but are not limited to):

  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • nightclubs
  • hotels
  • snack bars
  • guesthouses
  • boarding houses
  • sporting venues
  • music venues
  • festival sites
  • theatres
  • museums
  • exhibition halls
  • cinemas
  • concert halls
  • casino

What happens if I qualify?

After receipt of a completed application form we will send you an adjusted bill showing the appropriate reduction.

How do I apply?

To apply for this relief please complete and return the below application form.

pdf icon Application for Public House Relief Scheme [323kb]

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