Buried deep in the detail of the Spring Budget documents is the outcome of last year's consultation Business Rates Avoidance and Evasion: Consultation - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and the Governments response.

From 1 April 2024 business premises must be re-occupied for 13 weeks rather than 6 to qualify for a further period of empty rates relief. The idea is to inhibit the practice  known as “box shifting”, in which landlords repeatedly occupy properties for short periods of time in order to claim further Empty Property Relief.  

Few if any landlords would want to leave their properties empty  for any period of time - the ideal would be a regular income stream from a viable tenant, not a series of short term occupiers.  It is assumed most commercial properties lie vacant principally due to a lack of market demand - which is down to longer term socio-economic factors. The impact of this measure and whatever ‘general anti avoidance rule’ is eventually implemented, might just be a further disincentive to investment in the sector, rather than anything which could revitalize those high streets and other areas where box shifting is perceived to be a problem.