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What are business rates

Business rates are a local tax paid by occupiers of non-domestic property.

It is charged on most business properties, such as:

  • shops
  • offices
  • pubs
  • warehouses
  • factories

The property does not have to be used for a business. If it is used for any purposes which are not domestic, it is likely to be rateable.

All properties which must pay business rates are given a rateable value (RV) by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). We send you bills based on these values.

If a property is occupied, the person or company occupying it must pay business rates. This is the case even if a lease or licence agreement states otherwise, or if there is no formal agreement to occupy.

If a property is unoccupied, empty rates will be charged to the owner of the property. Empty properties may be exempt for up to three months (non-industrial properties) or six months (industrial properties).

Properties that meet certain other criteria, including those with an RV below a certain threshold, may not have to pay rates. Others, such as charities, can also apply for a reduction in their bill.

Page last updated: 8 March 2023

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