In a bid to encourage occupation of empty properties within the city, Edinburgh City Council has approved changes to the application of empty property relief for non-domestic rates which are to come into effect from 1 April 2024.
Under the current policy, owners of empty business premises can claim 50% relief on non-domestic rates for the first three months during which a property is unoccupied, with 10% relief available indefinitely thereafter.
Under the new policy, owners will still benefit from a 50% reduction for the first three months, however, they will only be able to claim a further 10% discount for nine months thereafter. As a result, full non-domestic rates will be payable for business premises which are unoccupied for a period longer than twelve months.
There will be an option to apply for a further twelve months of 10% relief for property owners who can provide evidence to show that opportunities are actively being pursued to bring the property back into use. This evidence can include:
- Details from the solicitor or estate agent advertising the property for sale or let;
- A Building Warrant or Planning Permission reference; or
- Evidence of pre-application discussions or a Proposal of Application Notice.
The current policy allows exemption from non-domestic rates for empty properties within certain categories such as listed buildings, bare land with no buildings, properties with a rateable value under £1,700 and those where the party liable for non-domestic rates is in administration, among others. These exemptions will no longer apply from 1 April 2024. Under the new policy, exemption will only be available for empty properties which are prohibited from being occupied by law (for example, where asbestos removal is being carried out).
The impact of the amended policy will be far-reaching. Data published by Edinburgh City Council states that there are currently over 1800 empty non-domestic properties in Edinburgh including 858 listed buildings which benefit from full exemption under the current policy and a further 679 properties benefiting from 10% relief. As the policy utilises new powers granted by the Scottish Government permitting local authorities to create their own policy for empty properties from 1 April 2024, it is likely that other local authorities will follow suit.
Edinburgh City Council’s Report on the new policy can be found here: Item 7.7 – Non-Domestic Rates – Empty Property Policy.pdf (edinburgh.gov.uk)
If you would like further information on empty property relief, please get in touch with a member of our Commercial Property team.