The Government has provided detailed guidance on the measures announced to support businesses, however it seems owners of empty property have drawn the short straw, being completely excluded from Government support.
The main relief granted by the Government is a 12-month exemption from rates on most occupied retail, leisure and hospitality properties for the year commencing 1st April 2020.
There is no Rateable Value limit on the relief and ratepayers that occupy more than one property will be entitled to relief for each of their eligible properties.
IMPORTANT: All the proposals currently offered are in favour of OCCUPIED properties i.e. available to tenants – NOT landlords who still remain liable for payment of Empty Property Rates in full.
PROPERTIES BENEFITTING FROM RATES RELIEF?
Set out below are the broad categories of occupied properties which are being granted the rates relief:
- Shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
- Estate agents, lettings agencies and bingo halls
- Properties used for assembly and leisure
- Hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation
There are various exclusions to the above which include banks and building societies as well as generally properties that are not reasonably accessible to visiting members of the public.
Detailed guidance has been issued to assist the identification of qualifying properties within these broad categories. The ultimate decision however as to whether to grant the relief is made by the local council.
To qualify for the relief the property should be wholly or mainly being used for the above qualifying purposes. This is a test on the use of the property use rather than occupation. Therefore, properties which are occupied but not wholly or mainly used for the qualifying purpose will not qualify for the relief.
To qualify for the relief the property must be occupied although the Government have made it clear that properties which have closed temporarily due to the government’s advice on COVID19 should be treated as occupied for the purposes of this relief.
RETAIL, HOSPITALITY AND LEISURE GRANT FUND AND SMALL BUSINESS GRANT FUND
The Government have also introduced the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF). This will give additional assistance to some of the businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors who qualified for the 12 months rates exemption. Qualifying properties in these sectors with a Rateable Value LESS than £51,000 will also be eligible for a RHLG grant of £25,000. Businesses with rateable values of less than £12,000 will be eligible for a SBGF of £10,000.
There are however certain existing provisions in the rating regulations which could in certain circumstances enable a claim to be made for rate relief. See below for further information.
For more information and to discuss how this impacts your liabilities please contact Tony Rosenberg.
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