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Does the festive season offer an opportunity for rates relief on vacant retail premises?

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With the retail sector continuing to suffer, compounded by rates relief on unoccupied commercial premises being restricted to only three months, property experts at legal firm Clarion in Leeds are suggesting that the festive shopping season might offer a

With the retail sector continuing to suffer, compounded by rates relief on unoccupied commercial premises being restricted to only three months, our property experts are suggesting that the festive shopping season might offer a temporary solution for landlords of vacant retail units.

“The measures put in place by the last government to severely curtail business rates relief for empty premises couldn’t have come into effect at a more economically challenging time for the retail sector as it faced a downturn in consumer spending as well as a shift towards online shopping,” explains James Lawson, property partner at Clarion.

“We have all seen an increase in vacant units on our high streets with Yorkshire suffering as much as other parts of the country.  Estimates earlier this year suggested that as many as a quarter of retail units were empty in Bradford; and more than 200 shops were vacant in Leeds city centre.”

Mr Lawson continued: “With Christmas approaching, the retail sector will look to make the most of festive shoppers and it follows that it could also stimulate seasonal demand for temporary lets of retail units.  As well as generating valuable income, this temporary occupancy can enable landlords of previously empty retail premises to claim a further three months empty rates relief.  Once initial rates relief has expired, it can be re-activated following a further occupation of the property for a minimum of six weeks.

“Whilst a temporary let will certainly not provide a solution for the burdens associated with vacant premises, the prospect of further business rates relief being available following a temporary let will provide some respite.  In the words of a rather successful retailer, ‘every little helps!’.”

Clarion’s property team offers a full range of services from developer, investment, asset management, corporate occupier work through to secured lending.

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For further press information, please contact:

Susan Reid on (01423) 56 99 99 or susan@appealpr.com