Rates assistance for businesses impacted by COVID-19
The Finance Minister has announced a further £213 million of business rates support in addition to the emergency £100 million rates package to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. Find out more about COVID-19: Emergency rates package for businesses.
Since 1 April 2004, the rating of vacant non-domestic property has been in place to encourage properties to be brought back into use. There are no vacant rates payable for a property with a Net Annual Value (NAV) of less than £2,000. For properties with a NAV of £2,000 or more rates are not payable for three months from either the date a non-domestic property becomes empty or, in the case of a property which has never been occupied, the date Land & Property Services (LPS) has determined the property to be completed.
After the three month free period, rates will be billed at 50 per cent of the normal occupied amount. Please note the property must then be occupied for at least six weeks before a further three month free period can be applied.
What is meant by vacant?
Generally a property will be considered vacant for rating purposes where it is unoccupied, unfurnished and not used for storage purposes.
Who will have to pay non-domestic vacant rates?
The person entitled to possession of the property - this is usually the owner but may be the leaseholder. This person is also responsible for informing LPS of any changes which may affect eligibility to an exclusion from rates.
How are non-domestic properties valued?
A non-domestic property is assessed on the basis of its rental value — known as the Net Annual Value (NAV). Some non-domestic properties require specialist assessment to reflect particular characteristics for example; schools, licensed premises and factories. Each property is valued in line with other comparable properties in the area. LPS will classify and distinguish (describe) a property according to its characteristics. This description will be set in line with the principle that property should be valued in its current state and as if it were put to its best use.
You must inform LPS if there are any physical alterations to the property or changes in the use of the property which may affect the valuation.
Is there a threshold to which non-domestic vacant rating applies?
Any empty property with a rateable NAV below £2,000 will not be charged rates. This exclusion is automatically applied following LPS receiving notification that the property is vacant.
Are rates payable on vacant land?
It depends. For vacant property rates to be charged there must be a vacant building. Anyone owning or leasing disused car parks and yards may be charged occupied rates.
I don't think my property would be able to command a rent in its current physical state. What should I do?
Persons entitled to possession of derelict buildings who believe that their property is not capable of commanding a rent in its existing state should contact the LPS helpline on Tel 0300 200 7801 (calls charged at local rate). You can apply to your local district valuer for a review of your property assessment. Please note that you must continue to pay your rates bill while there is an ongoing application for a re-valuation of your property - you will be refunded any overpayment.
Applying for Non-Domestic Vacant Rating exclusion
There are a number of exclusions to Non-Domestic Vacant Rating. To qualify the property must:
- have a NAV of £2,000 or over
- be unoccupied
- be unfurnished
- not used for storage; and
- meet one of the exclusion criteria below
The exclusions are:
- Qualifying Industrial Hereditament
- Any occupation is prohibited by law
- Any Occupation is prohibited by a public authority
- Local Enterprise Agency (LEA)
- Property is a listed building or is subject of a Building Preservation Notice
- Property is a Historic Monument
- Property is the responsibility of the Personal Representatives of a Deceased Person
- Trustee Under Deeds of Arrangement
- Company in Administration
- Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission
- Bankruptcy Order
- Insolvency or Winding-up Order
Further help and advice on Non-Domestic Vacant Rating
NDVR is a complicated area and you may wish to contact your local LPS regional office for further help and advice:
- Find an email address for your local LPS regional office
- Tel 0300 200 7801 (charged at local rate)
- Tel +44 28 9049 5794 if calling from outside the UK
- Text relay 18001 0300 200 7801
Please note: Following government measures announced to limit the spread of COVID-19, Land & Property Services offices and phone lines have been closed since 24 March. LPS Customer Information Centres remain closed until further notice. The Ordnance Survey helpline remains closed until further notice, urgent queries can be directed to Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk. Helplines for rating and valuation, housing benefit and rates relief reopened on 18 May 2020. The land registration helpline will reopen on 26 May 2020.
Closures will be kept under regular review in line with further Government announcements. Further information on service updates and reaching LPS by email will be available on the LPS website.
Know your legal responsibilities
- Do you need a licence?
- Get the right business insurance
- Comply with the law when providing goods and services
- Know your customers' rights
- Distance and online selling rules
- Understand pricing legislation
- Buying goods from outside NI
- Selling goods outside NI
- GDPR compliance checklist
- Pay your business rates
- Understand staff contracts and your responsibilities
- Taking on contractors and subcontractors
- Health and safety basics for business
- Know your legal obligations on pensions
Understand tax and VAT
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