Mandatory Charity Relief  – England

Charities, charity trustees and community amateur sports clubs  can be eligible for up to 80% business rates relief if they can demonstrate the following :

  • The charity is established for charitable purposes.
  • The property is used ‘wholly or mainly’ for charitable purposes. There is some ambiguity surrounding what ‘wholly or mainly’ means and can vary from council to council but case law suggests that it means more than half.

A company does not need to be a registered charity to claim the relief, but the company must be able to show that they are established for charitable purposes.

In relation to charity shops, relief can be granted where the majority of goods are donated but if the charity shop is selling only new goods no relief can be granted.

An application must be made to the local council where the property is located in order to obtain the relief and you may be required to submit financial information to prove the charitable status of the company. If there are properties across multiple locations then a separate application is needed to each council for each property.

Discretionary Charity Relief  – England

If the company is eligible for mandatory relief it may also be possible to apply for discretionary rate relief which will ‘top up’ the relief to 100%. Discretionary relief must be applied for each rating year , so it is important to apply for it early and a top up is awarded purely at the discretion of the council.

Unoccupied Properties Owned by Charities – England

Charities can be re exempt from empty rates where the unoccupied property, when reoccupied, will be used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes. There is no requirement that when the property is next in use it has be occupied by the current charity or a different charity in order to be eligible for exemption from empty rates.