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Court ruling on rates relief avoidance scheme

The High Court has held that the temporary storage of documents occupying only 0.2% of a warehouse’s floor space was actual occupation for the purposes of business rates liability. This meant that a new period of empty rates relief applied when that occupation ended.

This decision will be welcomed by property owners who have been hit by the restriction of empty rates relief and the economic downturn which has made letting property more difficult.

It means that if you can let your premises for a short term letting of six weeks or more this will successfully trigger a fresh period of empty rates relief, even where that is the primary intention of the letting. There must be an intention to actually occupy the premises together with use of the premises, however slight. The use must also be of practical benefit to the occupier.

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