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Vacancy Rates Research ‘Demonstrates Empty Rates Impact’

LDC Stats Highlight Problems


New research highlighting the number of empty shops on high streets across Britain demonstrates the continuing impact that the burden of paying rates on empty properties is having on many landlords, according to a property expert at Irwin Mitchell.

The latest report from the Local Data Company has revealed that vacancy rates for town centre properties rose by 2.5 per cent through 2010, with the northern England and Midlands seeing increases higher than the national average.

Bodies including the British Property Federation have suggested that many of the high streets affected by vacancies are unlikely to return to their “pre-recession days”.

Danny Revitt, a property expert at Irwin Mitchell, said the problems seen in a number of town centres can be linked to both the economic climate and the removal of empty rates relief.

This issue has attracted a growing amount of attention in recent months as changes at the start of April 2011 are expected to mean the threshold at which empty properties are exempt from rates will fall from £18,000 to £2,600.

He explained: “The removal of rate relief on empty commercial properties has had a significant impact on the market, one consequence being that funds that a landlord may have invested in improving an empty unit to make it more attractive to a tenant have to be used to pay the rates.

“This in turn inhibits their ability to attract tenants to vacant units in need of renovation.

“Organisations such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors have also recently suggested that the reintroduction of relief could provide a massive boost to the sector and the economy as a whole.

“Hopefully the government will take note of such calls, particularly as the expected changes in the coming months could create major difficulties for more landlords with vacant properties.”