A Round-Up On Rates

In this article Millar McCall Wylie Solicitor Patricia Arrell provides a brief note & reminder to Landlords and Tenants on rates liability.

The general rule of thumb under The Rates (NI) Order 1977 is that an “occupier” is generally liable for rates payment.

However, there are exceptions to the above rule and this will depend, in the case of non-domestic property, on the Net Annual Value “NAV”. For example, where the NAV is below £750 then the owner/Landlord will be responsible for rates payment. Frequency of the rent payment contained in any Lease connected with the property in question will also be taken into account when assessing rates liability.

NI Direct sets out a helpful guide for Landlord’s and Tenant’s alike as below:

Net Annual Value (shown on rate bill) Frequency of rent payment Who Pays?
£0-750 Any Frequency Owner (landlord)
£751-£1590 Monthly or weekly (less than quarterly) Owner (landlord)
£751-£1590 Quarterly or longer Occupier (tenant)
£1591 and above N/A Occupier (tenant)


Vacant properties

Unfortunately for rates-payers rates will most likely still be payable despite a property being vacant. However, discounts and reliefs are available in certain scenarios. For example, if a property is vacant and has a NAV above £2,000 rates will not be payable for 3 months. After this period, rates are payable at 50% of the normal occupied amount. The person entitled to possession of the property will be liable to pay these rates (whether that be an owner or tenant if there is a lease in place). Tenants and Landlords should recognise therefore that liability is not escaped simply from vacating a property.

It should be noted that Land & Property Services will consider a property “vacant” if it is unoccupied, unfurnished and not used for storage purposes.


COVID-19 support

Despite the liabilities set out above, there are a couple of measures available to businesses who are struggling with the upkeep of their rates liability in the current Pandemic.


  1. 12 month rates holiday

Eligible businesses will not have to pay rates until 31 March 2021 (whether the property is vacant or occupied) in the following sectors:

  1. Hospitality, tourism & leisure
  2. Retail (to exclude certain supermarkets and off-licences) & retail services
  3. Childcare
  4. Belfast City Airport, Belfast International Airport & City of Derry Airport


  1. Hardship rate relief

This relief is available for non-domestic ratepayers who are affected by exceptional circumstances in the current Pandemic.


Should you require any further information on potential rates liability please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Real Estate Team on 028 9020 0050.