Business Rates - Frequently Asked Questions

Business Rates - Frequently Asked Questions

Who has to pay Business rates?

The occupier of a non domestic property normally pays the Business rates. Usually this is the owner-occupier or leaseholder. If the property is empty, the person entitled to possession will be liable for the unoccupied charge.

What is a rateable value?

The rateable value is assessed by the Valuation Office Agency, which is an agency of HM Revenue and Customs.

Apart from properties that are exempt from Business Rates, each non-domestic property has a rateable value which is set by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), an agency of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. They compile and maintain a full list of all rateable values, available at

The Valuation Office Agency may alter the valuation if circumstances change. The ratepayer (and certain others who have an interest in the property) can also check and challenge the valuation shown in the list if they believe it is wrong.

Further information about the grounds on which challenges may be made and the process for doing so can be found on the VOA website:



Should I employ a rating advisor to appeal on my behalf?

Ratepayers do not have to be represented in discussions about their rateable value or their rates bill. Appeals against rateable values can be made free of charge. However, ratepayers who do wish to be represented should be aware that members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Institute of Revenues and Rating are qualified and are regulated by rules of professional conduct designed to protect the public from misconduct. Before you employ a rating advisor, you should check that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise, as well as appropriate indemnity insurance. Take great care and if necessary, seek further advice before entering into any contract. More information can be found on and

How will my appeal affect the amount of Business rates I pay?

When the appeal is settled, the council will refund, with interest where applicable, any difference between the amount you have already paid and any reduction resulting from the appeal. Interest will not be paid if a Liability Order has been issued against you.

If you have made an appeal you must continue to pay as instructed in accordance with the statutory instalments on your bill otherwise the council will take recovery action.

My bill includes the words "and premises" am I also being billed for the domestic part of the building?

No, this is the description used by the Valuation Office Agency to take into account all the constituent parts of the commercial premises such as stockroom, kitchen area or toilet facilities. Any domestic element will be separately banded for Council tax.

Do I have to pay business rates on an empty property?

Business rates are generally payable in respect of unoccupied non-domestic property. However, they are generally not payable for the first three months that a property is empty. This is extended to six months in the case of certain other properties (for example industrial premises or listed buildings). Full details on exemptions can be obtained from or from your local authority at business-rate-relief.

 There are however a number of exemptions from unoccupied rate where no charge is payable, examples include:

  • Those properties with a rateable value of less than £2,900.

  • Properties subject to a building preservation notice (listed buildings).

  • A property is owned by a charity or Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) whose intention it is to use the property for those purposes.

  • Where the owner is subject to a bankruptcy or winding-up order.

  • Where the owner is in possession only in their capacity as a liquidator, or Administrator or Personal Representative of the deceased persons estate.

Why do I have to pay separately for the removal of trade refuse?

Under environmental law every business must dispose of their waste through businesses licensed or permitted to dispose of or recover waste. The Public Health Act 1875 provided for local authorities to collect waste from residents. The Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 amended the Public Health Act 1875 to extend refuse collection to include that of trade refuse for which local authorities were to levy charges.  Prior to this the disposal of waste was a private arrangement, and since this time local authorities have operated in a competitive market for the provision of the service.

Section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 impose a duty of care on all businesses to store their waste safely and securely and to only pass it to be registered waste carrier or holder of an environmental permit to exemption. The Council or Environment Agency may serve a legal notice on a business requiring them to provided evidence of where their waste goes.

Failure to comply with this notice can lead to prosecution and an unlimited fine in either the magistrates' court or the Crown Court.