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Who is liable for business rates?

Business rates are payable on most non-domestic properties such as shops, offices, warehouses, industrial units, advertising rights, land used for storage and other commercial purposes. Also, a part of a domestic property used for commercial rather than domestic purposes, for example a small office attached to a house, may be rateable.

Empty property

If a property is vacant, it is the person entitled to possession, usually the leaseholder or owner, who is liable for business rates. Some empty property reliefs are available; please visit the reductions and relief pages of our website.

Occupied property

If a property is occupied, the rates are normally payable by the person, partnership or registered company in occupation. 'Occupation' means occupation by stock, or the date you start physically using a property, not the date you open for business.

Joint liability

All persons who have an equal interest in the property are jointly and severally liable for the business rate charges. If payments due are not maintained, recovery action can continue against any or all liable persons. St Helens Borough Council cannot become involved in any arrangements between jointly liable persons.

Inclusive rents

On occasion a landlord may charge a rent that is inclusive of business rates. This is a private agreement between the tenant and the landlord and is not binding on the local authority.

Under rating law, regardless of the terms of the agreement, the tenant would remain legally liable for payment of business rates and the bills will continue to be issued in the tenant's name. If the landlord fails to make the required payments on the tenant's behalf, any recovery action will be taken against the tenant and not the landlord.