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Who is liable to pay the business rates?

  • Who is liable to pay the business rates?

For occupied premises it is normally the occupier who has to pay the business rates. This could be an owner-occupier, a leaseholder, a sub-lessee, a tenant or a subtenant. It does not matter whether the occupation of the premises is subject to a proper legal agreement or not.

For empty premises the liable payer will depend on who is entitled to possession.

How do I decide if I am liable to pay?

If you are the only trader occupying the premises then you will be personally liable to pay the rates. 

If you are a member of a partnership then you will be personally liable to pay the rates along with all your partners. If for any reason the rates are not paid, then we can take legal action against any of the partners to recover the arrears, so it is in the interest of all the partners to ensure that the rates are paid.

If a limited company conducts its business from the premises, and the company shows it is in occupation, the rates may be put in the company's name.

What should I do if I move premises?

You must tell us as soon as you know

What happens if my property is, or becomes, empty? 

If you own or lease a property, for three months from the date that it became unoccupied you will not have to pay business rates. After the three-month period has passed, if the situation remains unchanged, full empty property rates become payable.

It is important to note that the liability for business rates on an empty premises will fall on the person or organisation entitled to its possession. This is an important point to remember because in law (and depending upon the leases or agreements in force at the time) the person or organisation entitled to possession may not be the same as those whose names appear on the lease or title deeds.

What should I do if my empty property becomes occupied or is sold?

You must tell us straight away, in writing if possible, giving full details of what has happened. We will need to know who has become the new owner or occupier, and on what date. Once we know this, we can send out a new business rates bill.

How many business rate bills will there be?

There will only be one bill. If more than one person is liable to pay, then we will send one bill with all the names on it.

If I don’t think that I should be liable, can I appeal?

Yes. Please see the appeals page, which explains what you need to do.

If I am the owner, but not the occupier, of a newly built or converted property, will I have to pay business rates?

If the new property is not occupied as soon as it is finished, and is completed between 1 October 2013 and 20 September 2016, the property will be exempt from empty property rates for the first 18 months, but not until all of the following has happened:

  • the property must have been valued for business rates purposes;
  • we must have served a completion notice; and
  • the property must have been empty for three months after the date shown on the completion notice.

What is a completion notice?

This is a formal notice issued by us. It sets the date that we think the property will be structurally completed. This date allows us to work out the period of exemption from business rates for your empty property.

How do you decide upon the completion date?

We will inspect your property regularly while it is being built. When we think that it is structurally complete, or that the remaining work could be completed within three months, we will serve on you a completion notice setting the completion date.

What if the remaining work is not finished by the completion date?

The completion date is not the date the work must be finished by, but the date that we think it could be finished.

If I think that the remaining work cannot reasonably be completed by the completion date, can I appeal?

Yes. You should appeal within 28 days from the date that the notice was sent. Details will be sent with the completion notice served on you. See the appeals page for more information.