The Welsh Government has announced that the changes that were to take effect this April have now been postponed until 1st April 2022.

“In light of current circumstances, and the evidence provided in response to the consultation, the Welsh Government is of the view that we should proceed with our intentions to tackle avoidance of empty property rates but delay implementation until 1 April 2022, a year later than proposed in the consultation. This will allow businesses and other ratepayers adequate time to prepare for the changes and for us to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on local property markets. We remain committed to supporting businesses through the pandemic and any pressures which may arise from exiting the European Union.”

Back in September 2020, the Welsh Government had announced its intention to implement changes to the Unoccupied Property Regulations that were first tabled in 2018. The changes will bring a halt to all empty rates mitigation strategies that rely on 6 weeks re-occupation in order to reset the statutory void period. Under the changes, the 6 weeks occupation period will be increased from 6 to 26 weeks before triggering a new empty rates relief period at zero liability, thereby rendering all such strategies as economically nonviable.

There are currently no plans to amend the current empty property relief periods which will remain as six months for industrial voids and three months for all other property types. The additional burden will have a severe impact on the cost of holding vacant property in Wales.

In contrast, the Mothball process is not affected by the legislative change and will continue unabated in providing unrivalled savings on business rates liabilities without any need for repeated temporary occupation cycles.