Business rates will not be payable in the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain industrial properties. After this period rates are payable in full unless the unoccupied property rate has been reduced by the Government by order. In most cases the unoccupied property rate is zero for properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs.
Liability for empty rates falls to the 'owner' who is described in the legislation as 'the person entitled to possession'. It is important to note that no new 'free' period is granted when an owner changes. Additionally no new 'free' period is granted if a property is reoccupied for less than 42 days.
In addition, there are a number of exemptions from the unoccupied property rate. If the unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, it will be shown on the front of your bill. After this, empty rates are payable (the full liability) until the property is sold or reoccupied.
From 1 April 2017 unoccupied properties with a rateable value of less than £2,900 only are also exempt from empty rates.