Call for empty rates hike to be scrapped

A leading Lincoln based chartered surveyor has backed calls by The British Property Federation which has launched a nationwide petition for the Government’s Empty Property Rates hike to be scrapped.

Dubbed the bombing Britain tax by the property industry, empty property rates leaves full business rates on unoccupied offices, shops and warehouses and has lead to millions of square feet of property being demolished since its introduction.

Sam Elkington, senior partner at Hodgson Elkington LLP, the Lincoln based chartered surveyors believes it is vital that the tax threshold on properties with a Rateable Value from £2,600 estimated to cost businesses £400 million this year, is scrapped in order that the much needed boost to the economy can begin.

“This unfair tax is potentially a real problem for commercial property owners.  Not only are landlords having to find occupiers for their vacant properties which carry the costs of holding the property to maintain its security, repair and possible improvement to make it attractive to tenants, they also now have to pay vacant business rates.  Having a lower threshold of £2,600.00 basically catches the majority of commercial property throughout Lincolnshire,” said Sam Elkington.

“There can be no incentive for developers of new property to speculatively build property and try and kick start the economy again if they know that they will have to pay Vacant Business Rates once the premises are completed and no occupier is ready to take possession.

“It is a really short sighted extension of a tax that will undoubtedly affect the recovery of all sectors of the commercial world be it industrial, office or retail,” said Mr Elkington.

Hodgson Elkington and others in the property sector have signed a petition calling on the Coalition Government to scrap the £2,600 tax threshold and reinstate the £18,000 RV threshold under which Empty Property Rates are not payable for a maximum of two years.