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Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

Empty, Unoccupied or Part Occupied Properties

No business rates are payable for the first 3 months of a commercial property becoming unoccupied, or 6 months if the property is classed as industrial.

Properties that come into the rating list between 1st October 2013 and 30th September 2016 may be exempt from unoccupied property rates for up to 18 months (including the initial 3 or 6 month exemption) as long as state aid limits are not exceeded by the granting of this additional relief.

To comply with EU law on state aid, a ratepayer must not be in receipt of state aid under the De Minimis Regulations (EC 1407/2013) that exceeds €200,000 in total, including retail relief and any other form of discretionary rate relief for these premises or others, whether within Birmingham or elsewhere.

Further information on state aid law can be found here.

Certain categories of unoccupied property may be exempt indefinitely from a charge:

  • properties with a rateable value less than £2,600 (effective from 1st April 2011), £18,000 (for the period 1st April 2010 – 31 March 2011), or £15,000 (for the period 1 April 2009 – 31 March 2010)
  • occupation prohibited by law
  • vacant due to action taken on behalf of the Crown
  • listed building subject to building preservation notice
  • ancient monuments included in schedule compiled under Ancient Monuments & Archaeological Areas Act 1979(b)
  • owner entitled to possession only in his capacity as personal representative of a deceased person
  • a bankruptcy order subsists in respect of the owner’s estate
  • owner entitled possession as trustee under deed of arrangement
  • owner is a company subject to winding-up order under the Insolvency Act 1986 or being wound up voluntarily under that Act
  • owner in administration or subject to an administration order
  • owner entitled to possession in their capacity as liquidator

If you believe your property falls into any of the categories above please complete the change of circumstances form

Part Occupied Property Relief

Birmingham City Council will only consider applications for this relief where we are satisfied the areas subject to the application will be unoccupied for a temporary period, meaning no more than 6 months, in any 12 month period.

There will be no retrospective granting of relief where a request is made after the premises become fully operational or fully vacated.

Applications will be considered where the premises are partly unoccupied due to:

  1. Full occupation being phased in over a period of time.
  2. Full vacation occurring in stages over a period of time.
  3. Temporary occupation, for example due to remedial building or refurbishment works, fire damage or similar.

Where we receive follow on applications for different parts of the same premises, the city will require a business case submitted supporting such applications. This will need to explain clearly why such changes to the business are required and the reason for this leading to another part of the premises now being temporarily unoccupied.

There is no minimum award period

The effective start date of Section 44A relief will normally be the date of the initial request or where this is unclear the date of the visit by the Inspector.

A floor plan must be provided showing the areas of occupation and non-occupation.

Payment cannot be withheld pending the receipt of the Section 44A Certificate from the Valuation Officer.

An Inspector may visit the premises from time to time, without prior appointment, to check that the certified unoccupied area is not in use.

All applications must be made to the Business Rates section in writing providing all detail required by the authority.

The period of relief will end with the first day on which one or more of the following events occur:-

  • a change in the extent of partial occupation
  • the ending of the rate period to which the apportionment relates
  • the beginning of a new period of relief under a new certificate
  • the hereditament becoming completely unoccupied/occupied

The ratepayer is responsible for notifying the Business Rates office immediately if the unoccupied area comes into use.

Section 44a is only a temporary relief and should not be used in cases whereby the situation of partial occupation will be for a prolonged period. In these cases, the ratepayer should seek to get the property split in the rating list by the valuation office.

Appeals in relation to short term part occupied properties under Section 44a

Your application will be assessed carefully against the criteria set out in our policy on this relief.

If we grant relief we will notify the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) who will issue us with a certificate apportioning (splitting) the rateable value (RV) between the occupied and unoccupied parts. We will then write to you to confirm the award and issue you with a new bill based on the RV of the occupied part only.

If we do not grant relief we will write to you to explain why. Because this relief is discretionary there is no formal right of appeal. If you think our decision is wrong you should first look again at our policy to make sure you meet the criteria. If you still think our decision is wrong you should e-mail or write to the Business Rates Team within one month of the decision letter explaining why you believe you meet the criteria and providing additional evidence where appropriate.

An officer independent of the initial assessment process will review your application and write to you with the outcome, normally within 28 days.