Relief will be available for new properties completed after 1 October 2013 and before 30 September 2016 that are unoccupied for the first 18 months after completion of construction.

This scheme is temporary and was first announced in the 2012 Autumn Statement to encourage development by reducing rates liability for owners of unoccupied new buildings.

Empty non-domestic properties can generally be entitled to a three or six month rate free period. Under this new scheme, a qualifying property may benefit from an additional 15 month or 12 month rate free period.

This relief is available at the discretion of the local authority for properties that meet certain criteria. The government has issued guidance for determining whether a property meets the qualifying criteria. In summary the property must:

  1. Be unoccupied and non-domestic and comprised wholly or mainly of qualifying new structures.
  2. Have been completed after 1 October 2013 and before 30 September 2016 and less than 18 months before the date the relief is granted.

The relief attaches to the property rather than the owner. This means that if a developer initially owns a property that qualifies for relief they will be able to sell or lease the property with the benefit of the remaining term of the relief (subject to the ratepayer’s state aid limit).