Minimum Occupation Period Extended from 1 April 2022
Owners or leaseholders of empty non-domestic properties are not liable to pay rates for the first 3 months after a property becomes empty (the initial relief period). The aim of the initial relief period is to provide owners or leaseholders with a period of reprieve from paying rates while seeking a new occupier or use for the property. After the end of this period, the owner or leaseholder is liable to pay full rates indefinitely. This is to discourage the keeping of properties empty for speculative reasons. For industrial properties, the initial relief period is 6 months because industrial properties are generally harder to let and can take longer to repurpose.
However, up to and including 31 March 2022, if at any time the property is occupied for a temporary period of 6 weeks or more where the owner or leaseholder is liable to pay full rates (the 6-week rule), this acts as a reset to the relief cycle arrangements. The owner or leaseholder is then eligible for another cycle of 3 or 6-months relief should the property become empty again. There is no limit on the number of times an owner or leaseholder can claim future cycles of relief so long as the temporary occupation criterion is satisfied.
From 1 April 2022, the Welsh Government has introduced new regulations [The Non-Domestic Rating (Unoccupied Property) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2021] which require property owners or leaseholders to prove the property has been occupied for 26 weeks or more (instead of 6 weeks) and the occupier needs to be liable for at least 26 weeks of full rates before the owner or leaseholder become eligible for a further period of 3 or 6-months relief.