Liability for business rates during property refurbishment

Owners of vacant non-domestic premises that are undergoing refurbishment should take note of a recent Court of Appeal judgment. The court held that a property that had been undergoing internal refurbishment was not exempt from business rates. On the valuation date, various major building elements had been removed. These included the air conditioning system, electrical wiring, sanitary fittings and most of the ceiling tiles.

Those carrying out substantial refurbishment work should not automatically assume that their properties will be assessed at a nominal rateable value. Whether the work required to put property into repair can be fairly described as “repairs” will depend upon the particular facts. Following this decision, property owners may find it more difficult to argue that their properties should be exempt from business rates.