Rates on empty properties cost landlords £1bn

Kasmira Jefford
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LANDLORDS were forced to fork out a massive £1.1bn in business rates on empty buildings in 2012, a hike of 19 per cent on the amount collected in the previous tax year.

Figures obtained by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) show landlords in the City of Westminster paid the most empty rates among London boroughs and the most of any local authority, at £100.7m.

This figure was more than five times more than Tower Hamlets, the next highest in London with £18.3m.

Landlords in Bristol, Liverpool, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Northampton were also among the highest taxed property owners in their regions.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TPA, said empty property rates were placing an unfair burden on landlords struggling to find tenants in the economic downturn and also prompting hundreds of properties to be demolished to avoid paying rates.

He added: “There are elderly people who invested in a small commercial or industrial unit in the reasonable expectation that the rent would top up their pension. This new tax is ruining them.”

The TPA’s findings follow calls by the British Property Federation and senior politicians from both coalition parties to reform business rates on empty property, which were first imposed in 2008. While in opposition, business secretary Vince Cable described taxing an empty property in a recession as “a ludicrous situation, completely counterproductive and economically very damaging”.