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New pressures over costs

Empty premises owners facing water charges

Roseanna CunninghamOwners of empty properties may be further persuaded to demolish them after the government confirmed plans for more charges, it has been claimed.

Vacant commercial properties are to be brought into the water charging regime, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham (pictured) confirmed yesterday.

From 1 April 2017, all non-domestic properties that are connected to services, regardless of occupancy, will be liable for water service charges.

Ms Cunningham also announced the Scottish Government is seeking views from businesses about modernising the regime for unmeasured charges, such as surface and road drainage.

Proposals include calculating charges relative to the current Rateable Value-based Water Service Charges, as most recently assigned by the Scottish Assessor, rather than historic values and that changes are phased over a three year period.

Brian Rogan, head of business rates in Scotland for CBRE, said: “A reduction in the amount of business rates relief available for empty commercial property was introduced by the Scottish Government in April this year, increasing landlord’s costs. 

“With the Scottish Government now adding another cost in terms of additional water rate charges on empty premises from April 2017, landlords of some long term vacant properties will be seriously considering whether demolition of empty premises could be the most cost effective option in light of these increased holding costs.

“The Scottish Government’s further proposals for changing the charging basis on all commercial properties to the current rateable values will add another layer of complexity into what is already a complicated charging system and businesses should consider how this will impact on their water rates costs.”

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