Charities which own empty property are not liable to rates for that property so long as it appears that the property will next be used for charitable purposes. Once factories and warehouses have been empty for six months, and other commercial property for three months, full rates become payable.
However, where the ratepayer is a charity, or the trustees for a charity, and it appears that when next in use the property will be used for charitable purposes, a relief of 100 per cent is available.
There could be a problem of increased rates for a charity’s vacant investment property, as the next use is likely to be occupation by a non-charitable tenant. Similarly, if a charity has vacated the property to prepare for its sale, full rates are likely to become payable after 3 months. In such cases the charity may wish to consider whether it would be better to continue to use the property for its charitable purposes, for example for storage, in order to continue to benefit from mandatory relief.
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