Relief and reductions

Partially occupied properties

We are able to grant business rate relief where properties are unoccupied for a short time.

We can consider granting relief when part of a non-domestic assessment is empty under Section 44a of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. The part of the building that is not in use should only be empty for a temporary period only, and any awards under this provision should be the exception, rather than the rule. Reliefs are awarded at the discretion of the council and are partly funded by us and the council tax payer. 

It is at the discretion of the local authority whether to grant relief or not.

How to apply 

You can email us at to request this relief by providing the full details below

  • details of the part of the property that is not in use 
  • a (to scale) map of the property clearly defining the areas in use/not in use 
  • the dates or approximate dates that the unused area will be empty for 
  • the reason for the area being unused (for example, practical difficulties of occupation) 
  • plans for re-occupation of the whole property  
  • any additional information which will assist us in making a decision 

Relief can be given where it is not practical to occupy the whole premises, for example, due to flood or storm damage, fire damage, building works and phased occupation or vacation of the site. 

Relief will not normally be allowed if the unoccupied area is surplus to requirements, or if any under occupation is part of the normal operational running of the business.  However, all relevant circumstances will be considered when reviewing each application. 

We may wish to physically inspect the premises to verify the details of your application, prior to a final determination being made. If this is the case, we will discuss the arrangements for the visit with you. 

Full rates remain payable pending the outcome of any application for part occupied relief. 

We may take into account other factors, including: 

  • the financial amount of the award (and cost to local taxpayers) 
  • the effect of awarding/not awarding the relief (for example, local job losses and business unable to relocate into area) 

The process

If we accept your application, we will contact the Valuation Office for a formal apportionment of the rateable value of the property.  

The Valuation Office will issue us with a certificate confirming a rateable value for the occupied and unused area of the assessment. This allows us to calculate the relief award against the unoccupied portion of the building. 

If your application is successful, you will be notified in writing, and a revised bill or refund will be issued. If your application is unsuccessful, you will be notified in writing. 

Length of relief 

Relief may only be given for a temporary period. It is envisaged this would not normally exceed 3 to 6 months; however, we will take the individual circumstances of each case into account before making a decision. The relief will be limited where properties are only entitled to a time limited exemption; 3 months for commercial properties, and 6 months for industrial. 

You may be asked to reapply for relief, if the relief is required for separate financial years; however, this will be decided on a case by case basis. 

We may also contact you to review the circumstances of the property once an award has been agreed (for example, to ensure that circumstances have not changed). If circumstances do change (for example, either the unused area becomes occupied, or the size of the unused area changes), you will be required to notify the council immediately. Failure to do so will result in the immediate withdrawal of the relief. 


Ratepayers are encouraged to submit their applications as soon as the part occupation occurs.

This provides us with an opportunity to inspect the property, and also enables any relief to be applied to the account as soon as is practical. 

We appreciate that in some circumstances, a backdated claim cannot be avoided; therefore, any application must be supported with the appropriate proof, and an explanation of why the application was not made at the time.

 If we are not satisfied with the level of proof submitted with a backdated application, we reserve the right to refuse the application, although all efforts will be made to discuss this with the ratepayer. 


You can appeal within 21 days of being notified of a decision. 

Any appeal must be sent in writing to with your reasons for appeal. 

Appeals will be considered by the Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Business Services, whose decision is final. 

Page last updated: 08 Jun 2022