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In what circumstances will a property owner be exempt from empty rates liability on the basis that it is prohibited by law from occupying or allowing occupation? The High Court decided the owner must show that the law actually prohibits occupation.
Pall Mall Investments (London) v Gloucester City Council  EWHC 2247 (Admin)
Pall Mall sought exemption from liability to pay empty rates on the ground that their non-occupation of a number of properties was the result of dilapidations, caused at least in part by vandalism. It argued that the state of the properties was such that occupation was prohibited by law.
The High Court had to decide whether, in the absence of:
there were sufficient grounds to support a conclusion that Pall Mall was exempted from paying empty rates on the basis that it was prohibited by law from occupying the properties, or allowing them to be occupied.
Pall Mall argued that they were exempt on this basis as:
Local Government Finance Act 1988, s 45
Unoccupied commercial property in England and Wales is liable for full business rates following expiration of a concessionary period - six months for factories and warehouses, three months for everything else. Unless the property can be rapidly relet, or unless one of the statutory exceptions applies, this is likely to result in a direct and irrecoverable charge to the landlord. The statutory exceptions include where the owner is prohibited by law from occupying the property or allowing it to be occupied.
The court decided th
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