Makro Self Service Wholesalers have won a landmark case in relation to rates liability.
The appeal decision overturns an earlier judgment against Makro in relation to rates liability of the store under the Rating (Empty Property) Act 2007.
Nuneaton & Bedworth Council’s refusal to allow empty rate relief was challenged following the partial occupation and vacation of one of Makro’s properties.
The case involved the use of just 0.2% of the total floor space of 140,000 square feet of their vacant warehouse situated in Coventry. They stored 16 pallets of documents at the property which were removed after the statutory period of occupation to trigger the empty rate relief. The saving for the six month period was just over £117,000. The Court held that the ratepayer was entitled to minimise their rates liability and that the method adopted by Makro was legitimate.
This judgement will be welcomed by landlords of empty properties as it will set a precedent for the validity of the intermittent occupation strategy. Many authorities will have to reconsider the way in which they deal with such relief applications.
Chancellor George Osborne recently agreed to review empty rates legislation following the Estates Gazette’s investigation which revealed that Councils alone pay around £50m a year in empty rates.
There are currently a large number of similar cases being heard around the UK although these have been placed on hold following this Landmark decision.
If you want any advice on rates please call Laura Pyatt from the commercial property team on 01543 267192 or e mail email@example.com