Landlords: The many hurdles of a vacant commercial property

16 May 2023, by Verity Editor


With many businesses, including high street chain The Works, bracing themselves for a cost-of-living Christmas in the UK, you’ll have noticed the worsening epidemic playing out on Britain’s high streets. Well-known and well-loved brands – once thought untouchable, even in the age of internet shopping – are increasingly finding themselves closing down stores, laying off employees and succumbing to shifting consumer habits.

Although having to close a store is clearly distressing for employees and company bosses, there’s also another party involved in the mourning process: the commercial landlord. This is the individual who has let out their commercial property to big brands with the hope that they would weather anything, only to find themselves scrambling to find a new tenant instead.

Paying for Empty Property

Once a brand has vacated a property, commercial landlords encounter the first significant hurdle standing between themselves and stability. That hurdle comes in the form of empty business rates, which landlords become liable for when a commercial property remains unoccupied for longer than three months.

This effectively means that the landlord is paying to own an empty property, all whilst forces outside of their control – internet shopping, finances etc. – further distance them from securing a new lease. What’s more, without rental income to pay for the empty rates, landlords can end up being forced to sell the property or face bankruptcy.

Challenging Rates

With that in mind, it pays for landlords to be prepared to fight against empty rates, minimising their liability as much as possible, buying themselves time to find a new tenant. This, however, is when empty rates are at their most challenging.

As anyone who has applied for rates relief (successfully or otherwise) will know, there’s a large amount of admin and hoops to jump through, causing plenty of confusion and frustration in landlords. This includes liaising with the local council and filling out reams of paperwork just to minimise the damage empty rates are calling.

The labyrinthine process of applying for rates relief can put a huge, unnecessary strain on landlords, and has on many occasions been the cause of a commercial property sale. And if unsuccessful, tackling said paperwork has effectively burnt up time which could be spent on managing properties or sourcing interest in a vacant property.

In short, the paperwork involved with empty rates can be so difficult to navigate, that landlords give up – yet they remain at the mercy of red tape and administrative loopholes.

A Helping Hand

As with any confusing maze, the best way through the myriad of paperwork is with a friendly face to guide you. The team at Verity are well-versed at acting as a helping hand to clients who are facing sizeable empty rates bills.

Instead, we can often save up to 100% on empty rates liabilities without having to engage with confusing paperwork or communicate with local councils. What’s more, this positive result spans the entirety of the property’s vacancy, making life easier from day one.

It’s unfortunate for commercial landlords that this is the situation they’re trapped in: succeed or end up following the likes of Carphone Warehouse, Mothercare and Toys’R’Us and vanishing from the high street; find a way to compete with internet shopping, or be prepared to battle through torrents of paperwork and empty rates bills.

But with Verity’ professional team at the ready, commercial property landlords no longer need to be limited to these options or held at the mercy of admin. Instead, they can be free of empty rate liabilities, all without affecting their search for a new tenant. Simple.

To find out more about how Verity – the only fully guaranteed empty rates mitigation scheme in the UK – can help with relieving the pressure of your empty commercial property rates liability, don’t hesitate to get in touch or explore our website. We’re happy to help.

I have used Verity for several years and I am happy to recommend them. They provide an efficient service in a timely manner.

John Roberts

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