The Government’s decision to charge business rates on empty properties is becoming an economic nightmare for many commercial landlords – according to the CLA, the rural economy people.
The decision means rate relief on empty business properties with a rateable value of more than £2,600 will disappear shortly and the CLA says the potential fallout is already being felt.
Now the Association is planning to take up the case with MPs and is calling for examples of people struggling to let commercial or industrial units who are likely to find themselves facing the prospect of paying rates on units they cannot let.
CLA South West Director, John Mortimer, says it’s a growing problem. Business rates have more than doubled on many properties within the last year, forcing companies out of business and leaving landlords with properties they cannot let - even at rents which are less than the cost of the business rates.
The problem is further exacerbated by the absence of decent broadband services in many rural areas making offices and industrial units located in converted farm buildings unable to compete with their urban rivals.
“It’s placing further obstacles in the path of commercial property letting and this, together with the scrapping of the rates exemption for empty premises and the small business rate relief, is going to cause serious problems for many small businesses which are working hard to trade their way out of recession.”
It will, he said, also punish the people who invest in the property which provides opportunities for small to medium-sized businesses to operate in the rural sector
“This could totally backfire and, instead of raising revenue for the Government, could force people out of business leaving a gap in the rural economic revival that the Government so clearly needs.”
The CLA in the South West is looking to gather information from anybody likely to be affected by the change in rating policy or who finds it impossible to let units because of the absence of broadband – please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “Business Rates” in the subject area,
“But we are also recommending that people write immediately to their constituency MPs detailing the problem – because we need to raise awareness with MPs that there are real problems facing businesses on the ground,” he said.