Owners of empty shops and offices become liable to pay the full business rate once the property has been empty for more than three months. In the case of industrial and storage premises, the rent exemption lasts for six months. Community amateur sports clubs and charities pay no rates for empty properties however long they remain empty, as long as the next use of the property will be for a charitable purpose or sport.
The recession has led to an increase in properties left empty. In response to this the Government introduced a temporary concession whereby properties with a rateable value not exceeding £15,000 would enjoy permanent exemption from rates while empty. This was due to end in April 2010. However, in the December 2009 pre-budget report the Government announced its intention to extend the relief for a further year till April 2011. In addition, the threshold for qualification will be raised to properties with a rateable value which does not exceed £18,000.