Apply now for Empty Premises Relief

Business owners urged to take advantage of the Empty Premises Relief which came into effect on 1 April 2012

Empty premises relief

Business ratepayers who move into premises which were previously unoccupied for 12 months or more can claim a one year concession, during 2012/13, that will allow 50 per cent empty property relief to continue for a year. To receive the 50 per cent relief, ratepayers must submit an application to Land & Property Services (LPS) with evidence that the property, when last used, was used for retail purposes.

Speaking about the Empty Premises Relief, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said: “I have listened carefully to concerns from the local business community about the high number of empty shops in our town centres. Local traders are not only continuing to face harsh economic times, but also a revolution in retailing, with online shopping and bigger stores taking an increasing share of consumer spending.

“This relief is unique in the UK and it’s to encourage long term empty shops and other retail premises back into business. I urge anyone thinking of setting up a businessin an empty retail unit to consider applying for this concession, to help them get established in the difficult first year. The new business doesn’t have to be retail, it doesn’t have to be town centre and the premises don’t necessarily have to be a traditional shop. Just ask Land & Property Services and they will be happy to advise you about applying.”

Supporting business start up

Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said: “These proposals for first year 50 per cent rate relief for companies taking up empty retail proprieties will help both address the problem of vacant shops and support new start businesses in their first critical year of trading. Both this initiative and extending the Small Business Rate Relief schemes are strongly welcomed from our members given the challenging economic climate.”

Joe Jordan, President of Belfast Chamber of Commerce added: “The Chamber was delighted with the Minister’s response to the consultation for the rating of commercial properties. In particular we would like to remind allpotential investors to the city that they can avail of 50 per cent rates reduction for one year providing that the property has been vacant for a period of 12 months or more and when last used was used for retail purposes. This is a substantial financial incentive for businesses seeking to locate in one of the most exciting and dynamic regional cities in the UK and Ireland.”

Owners of empty properties were sent details of the Empty Premises Relief and application forms by LPS at the beginning of May. Application forms are available by calling the LPS helpline on 0300 200 7801 or can be downloaded from nibusinessinfo’s guide – Help available for business rates.