Business Rates Reform on the Agenda?

There has been much grumbling over the years about the fact that where a tenant occupies multiple floors of a building, those floors will normally be treated as separate premises for the calculation of business rates. This normally produces larger rates bills than would be the case if the premises were treated as being a single unit.

Following a 2015 case in which this principle was upheld by the Supreme Court, the Valuation Office Agency has begun to issue backdated rates demands in relevant cases.

Strong representations were made to the Government to reform business rates law and it is rumoured that the Autumn Budget may offer some relief. However, until such time as a change is made, it is worth bearing in mind that taking more than one unit in an office block may have unfortunate cost implications.

The key criterion for the treatment as separate premises is whether or not they can be accessed by other occupants of the building using a common means of entry, such as a lift or staircase.