Business rate payers have to pay full a full charge whether a property is completely occupied or partly occupied.

We have the discretion if part of a property becomes temporarily vacant, to award relief in respect of the unoccupied part. This is called Section 44a relief.

What is considered

When considering an application for discretionary rate relief the following factors will be considered:

  • the circumstances leading to the partial occupation
  • what is the intention of the business in relation to the unoccupied parts
  • evidence that the unoccupied part will be empty for a short term only

We will not normally give relief under this provision where:

  • part occupation is likely to exceed a short time
  • part occupation is seasonal
  • it appears there is no effort being taken to let, sell, re-occupy or totally vacate
  • it is for a retrospective period

How to apply

You can apply for part occupancy relief by:

  • email:
  • post: South Gloucestershire Council, Department for Resources and Business Change, Revenues Services, PO Box 1953, Bristol, BS37 0DE

Make sure you include:

  • the period for the relief
  • the reasons for why relief should be given and the circumstances leading to the partial occupation
  • a plan of the rated premises which clearly identifies the occupied and the unoccupied areas

The premises will need to be inspected to verify the information provided.

What happens next

If we decide to grant the relief, we will ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to apportion the rateable value of the property between the occupied and unoccupied parts.

Relief will only be granted on the unoccupied part for up to 3 months or 6 months for industrial property. This mirrors the statutory exemption for empty premises.

You should continue to pay your business rates as shown on your bill while your application is being processed.

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