You don't have to pay business rates on empty properties for three months.

The following properties can get extended empty property relief: 

  • industrial premises (for example, warehouses) are exempt for a further three months 
  • listed buildings - until they’re reoccupied 
  • buildings with a rateable value under £2,600 - until they’re reoccupied 
  • properties owned by charities - only if the property’s next use will be for charitable purposes
  • community amateur sports clubs buildings - only if the next use will be for sporting use

 Please Contact us when your property becomes vacant.

New build empty property relief

The government has introduced a new measure to extend the empty property rate relief for empty new build properties between
1 October 2013 and 30 September 2016.

Empty new builds that are complete on or after 1 October 2013 will now be exempt from payment of empty property rates for up to 18 months, up to state aid limits. The 18-month period includes the initial three or six months exemption. The relief will continue beyond 30 September 2016 for those properties that become eligible before that date.

Section 44a relief - partly occupied property

Ratepayers are liable for full non-domestic rates whether a property is wholly occupied or only partly occupied.
However, in certain instances, we have the discretion if part of a property becomes temporarily vacant, to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part. This is called Section 44a relief.

When considering an application for discretionary rate relief the following factors will be taken into account:

  • The circumstances leading to the partial occupation
  • What is the intention of the business in relation to the unoccupied parts
  • Evidence that the unoccupied part will be empty for a short term only

 We will not normally give relief under this provision where:

  • Part occupation is likely to exceed a short time
  • Part occupation is seasonal
  • It appears there is no effort being taken to let, sell, re-occupy or totally vacate
  • It is for a retrospective period

How to apply

Please email or write to:

Business Rates
Mid Devon District Council
Phoenix House
Phoenix Lane
EX16 6PP

Please include:

  • The period for the relief
  • The reasons for why relief should be given and the circumstances leading to the partial occupation
  • A plan of the rated premises which clearly identifies the occupied and the unoccupied areas
  • A declaration as to the amount of de minimis aid the applicant or any other organisation in its group under the "notified scheme" or "block exemption scheme" as prescribed by the EU in the last three years (see GOV.UK - Guidance on state aid rules)

 The premises will need to be inspected in order to verify the information that has been provided.

If we decide to grant the relief, we will ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to apportion the rateable value of the property between the occupied and unoccupied parts. Relief will only be granted on the unoccupied part for up to three months (six months for industrial property). This mirrors the statutory exemption for empty premises.

If you do apply for Section 44a relief, please continue to pay your business rates as shown on your bill while your application is being processed.

Taking a property out of rating

If your property is not capable of beneficial occupation – for example, if it is in poor condition and cannot be economically repaired – the VOA may decide it should be taken out of rating altogether.

However, if a property is damaged for the purposes of avoiding rates, under new anti-avoidance legislation introduced by the government, the VOA will be required to disregard the change in the property’s state when assessing its rateable value.

To contact the VOA telephone 03000 501 501 or email

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