The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is asking the Chancellor to suspend changes to rating of empty premises in order to boost rural economy
Under the changes, a landlord is required to pay the full rates after a property has stood empty for three months.
CLA President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said: ‘It is extremely unfortunate that the changes were introduced without any assessment of the potential impact on the rural economy. As a result it is now impossible for the Chancellor to know what effect they are likely to have.
‘And with the economy in the state it is, now is not the time to be experimenting with rural landowners’ livelihoods in this way. The changes must be suspended until the economy picks up.”
CLA members are concerned that they will be left having to pay rates on buildings with there being no realistic chance of tenants being found in the foreseeable future.
The CLA President added: ‘We didn’t think the Government’s policy sounded very sensible when it was first announced. In our experience, a rural landlord can have perfectly good commercial reasons for not wanting to let a particular property.
‘Many commercial buildings in the countryside are old farm premises that have been converted to meet the needs of a particular industry, the pool of prospective tenants may be small but it is there and it makes sense for the owner to keep the property empty until the right person turns up.
‘Alternatively, on a rural estate, every so often the owner will need to reorganise his holding to meet changing demands. This may involve keeping certain buildings empty while waiting for the tenancies on others to expire.’