Exemptions and reliefs

Depending on the type of property and the business sector you operate in, you may be entitled to an exemption or relief.  


Unoccupied property 

For the first 3 months that a property is empty, or 6 months in the case of certain industrial properties, no business rates will be payable. If a property is still empty at the end of the exemption period, then business rates will be charged at 100% of the basic occupied business rates.

Quarterly reviews are carried out on all empty properties within the borough and this may result in an unannounced visit by a revenues inspection officer. To keep us up to date with any changes in liability at an empty premises, please complete the empty property questionnaire and email to business.rates@hackney.gov.uk.

Exemptions include small properties with rateable values below a certain threshold:


Rateable value threshold 

2011/12 to 2016/17 £2,600

In most cases, the unoccupied rate is zero for properties owned by charities and community amateur sports clubs. In addition, there are a number of exemptions from the empty property rate. Please contact us for full details on exemptions. 

If the unoccupied property rate for the financial year has been reduced by order, it will be shown on the front of your bill. 

Exempt property

Properties that are exempt from business rates don't appear in the local rating list of the Council. The types of property that are exempt are:

  • agricultural land and buildings
  • drainage authority property
  • fish farms
  • property used for the disabled
  • public parks

If you think that your property should be exempt please contact the Valuation Office Agency at:

Valuation Office Agency 
1st Floor
Lloyds Chambers
1 Portsoken Street
London E1 8BT

Tel: 03000 504 650
Fax: 03000 504 729 
Email: londoncitygroup.vo@voa.gsi.gov.uk


Small business rate relief (SBRR) 

If the rateable value of your business property is below £15,000, you may be eligible for small business relief. If the value is between £15,000 and £50,999 you could be eligible for a lower bill because of a discount called the small business relief reduced multiplier. The rateable value is shown next to the property address on your business rates bill. If you occupy more than one property you may not be eligible for relief.

The table below shows how much you could save:

Rateable value of your propertySmall business relief
£12,000 and below100% off your bill
£12,001 to £15,000Tapered relief

Apply for SBRR

If you have previously applied for small business relief you do not need to re-apply. 

Supporting small business relief

In the spring budget the Chancellor announced that a scheme of relief would be made available to those ratepayers facing large increases as a result of the loss of some or all of their small business rate relief.

The transitional relief scheme does not provide support in respect of changes in reliefs. Therefore, those ratepayers who are losing some or all of their small business relief may be facing very large percentage increases in bills from 1 April 2017.

The supporting small businesses relief scheme will help those ratepayers by ensuring that the increase per year in the bills of these ratepayers is limited to the greater of:

  • a cash value of £600 per year (£50 per month). This cash minimum increase ensures that those ratepayers currently paying nothing or very small amounts are brought into paying something, or
  • the matching cap on increases for small properties in the transitional relief scheme

The Council wrote to all ratepayers it believed would be entitled, but, at that time, did not have formal guidance on the operation of the scheme. We therefore had to issue annual bills without this new relief.

Annual bills were issued showing the instalments due from 1 April 2017 before the application of any relief. However, as we believed that the bills for those ratepayers might be reduced we decided that those ratepayers could either:

  • choose to pay the instalments shown on the bill - and that once we were able to recalculate accounts we would revise the instalments and credit payments made against future instalments, or
  • pay the same instalment amounts as in 2016/17 - and that once we were able to recalculate accounts we would revise the instalments for the remainder of the year

The Council has now received the formal guidance. However, the software changes required to recalculate rates accounts and send revised bills has still to be finalised. In the meantime ratepayers can still make payment based on the options set out above. 

Charity relief 

Charities are entitled to charity relief (also known as mandatory relief) where the property they occupy is used wholly or mainly for charitable purposes. Relief is given at 80% of the rates due.

If you think you may qualify for this relief and would like to apply please contact us at business.rates@hackney.gov.uk

Discretionary relief  

We have a discretionary power to grant relief of up to 100% If you are a registered charity in receipt of 80% mandatory rate relief or a not for profit organisation that can demonstrate they are not established or conducted for profit.

If you think you qualify for this relief and would like to apply, please see our information on community partnerships.

Please note we are not duty bound to grant the relief but will consider each case on its merits. You should continue to make payment in line with the bill you have received until you receive notification the relief has been granted.

Pub relief

At the spring budget, the Government announced a series of reliefs, under the supporting small businesses agenda, to support businesses facing significant increases in rates bills following the business rates revaluation.

One of the reliefs announced was a discount of up to £1,000 to be made available for qualifying pubs with an RV under £100,000 in recognition of the important role that pubs play in urban and rural communities. This relief is to have effect for 2017/18 only.

Administration of relief for pubs

The relief is to be delivered through the discretionary relief powers under section 47 of the Local Government Finance act 1988, as amended. Compensation towards the cost of granting the relief will be paid to theCouncil through a grant from the Government, provided that the relief has been granted in accordance with Government guidance.

Where a property is eligible for another grant scheme, the support for pubs relief will be calculated after these other reliefs have been granted.


The scheme will be available to eligible occupied properties with a rateable value of less than £100,000. Relief is not available for unoccupied pubs or for those pubs with an RV of £100,000 or more. Eligibility is calculated on a daily basis.

Independently owned or managed pubs, as well as pubs that are part of a chain, may qualify for this relief. However, where pubs are part of a chain, relief will be available for each eligible property in the chain subject to meeting state aid requirements.

Determination of eligibility

There is no definitive description of a traditional pub or public house in law that can be used to determine eligibility. Therefore the objective has been to design an easy to implement scheme, which has clear guidance as to which types of property would be eligible, in a way that is accepted by the industry and is consistent with the Government's policy intention in its published guidance.

Eligible pubs should:

  • be occupied
  • have an RV of under £100,000
  • allow free entry other than when occasional entertainment is provided
  • allow drinking without requiring food to be consumed
  • permit drinks to be purchased at a bar

 The scheme specifically excludes: restaurants, cafes, nightclubs, hotels, snack bars, guesthouses, boarding houses, sporting venues, music venues, festival sites, theatres, museums, exhibition halls, cinemas, concert halls, casinos.

The list of exclusions is not exhaustive and it is for the Council to determine those cases where eligibility is unclear, subject to broader considerations that would lead to the use of the property demonstrating characteristics that would lead to it being classified as a pub. These could include is it owned and operated by a brewery or local planning classes.


The Council is in the process of finalising the scheme, which has to run in conjunction with the other reliefs announced in the spring budget, and will be writing to ratepayers whom the Council believes will qualify in the near future.

Hardship relief 

If you are experiencing problems paying your business rates, we have the discretion to consider reducing your rates bill on the grounds of hardship.

When reaching our decision, we must not only take account of any financial hardship you may be experiencing, but also that to grant any relief would be in the interests of the taxpayers of the borough.

If you think you may qualify for this relief and would like to apply please contact us at business.rates@hackney.gov.uk.

Page updated: 29/08/2017 11:39:47