Property owners will welcome a High Court ruling on an empty rates relief avoidance scheme. The court held that the temporary storage of documents occupying only a very small percentage of a warehouse’s floor space was actual occupation for the purposes of business liability. This meant that a new period of empty rates relief applied when that occupation ended.
The judgment removes some of the uncertainty around whether a short term letting of six weeks or more can successfully trigger a fresh period of empty rates relief, even where that is the primary intention of the letting. However, the four conditions of rateable occupation still need to be fulfilled and owners should also be careful to ensure that the degree of control that they exercise over the occupier’s occupation does not amount to occupation by the owner.
Our checklist sets out the exemptions from business rates for non-domestic properties.