Are My Commercial Property Rates Affected During The Covid-19 Lockdown?
Posted on 14th May 2020
Whilst we are at risk of stating the obvious, our property conveyancing solicitors know that COVID-19 has been causing untold disruption. Not least to those attempting to buy or sell property, to businesses attempting to reduce a physical presence in the workplace, to corporate tenants who are being encouraged to find amicable solution with regard their rent and occupation charges.
The news, therefore, that Estate Agents can open for business and take new instruction has been a welcome relief for property conveyancers and clients alike. Of course, MG Legal will continue to proceed safely, ensuring appropriate social distancing and hygiene, whilst maintaining our ability to complete transactions to the highest of standards; as always.
It is more good news for some businesses as well, with the Government, having brought in measures to assist certain businesses, with grants being given, although not to any of our solicitors in Longridge, Lancaster or Garstang. However, we digress: the below gives a non-exhaustive summary of options open to ratepayers who have empty properties.
*We remind you that the reliefs are heavily fact and business specific so be careful!
Retail, hospitality and leisure
- These business premises can avail themselves of a 12-month rate holiday, even if your business has closed because of Covid-19. You can check if your business is eligible here.
- Normal rates, exemptions and reliefs continue to apply alongside the Government guidance. Businesses can apply for 3- or 6-months empty rate relief if your property is genuinely “empty” this will be difficult to prove though if the occupier is still partially occupying the premises.
- 6 weeks occupation will trigger a further entitlement to a rates holiday and such a scheme can be used repeatedly.
Occupation prohibited by law
- If your business property has been closed due to a prohibition by law or action of public authority, then you should very carefully consider this relief as they are quite strict.
- Businesses which have been forcibly closed by recent legislation may be eligible but if partial or temporary use is still possible difficulties arise.
- Government advice on social distancing and non-essential travel may help the rate payer here as the relief will apply throughout the duration of the enforced closure.
Material Change of Circumstances
- If your business has been subject to MCC (material change of circumstance) is not a genuine relief which is granted by your local authority.
- You can exercise your right to check and such material changes may relate to factors such as social distancing advice, the closure of neighbouring shops upon which you depend on, business closures and transport restrictions.
- Caution should be exercised here as you will need to prove that the change had a material impact upon the rateable value.
- This challenge will also take time to work through the system so not an immediate assistance if you have immediate cashflow problems.
2021 Rating List
- The 2021 List will soon be upon us (in force from April 2021) and the valuations are treated as at the date of April 2019 so if you are prudent you will get in touch with your surveyor on the likelihood of valuation changes and the impact of transitional relief.
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