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Business rates for estate agents are abolished for a year

Chancellor reveals government U-turn on business rates for sales and lettings agents, suggesting ministers realised it was unfair to charge rates for branches that government had insisted must close.

Nigel Lewis

The government has announced that businesses that were originally left out of its business rates exemption programme – including sales and lettings agencies – will now no longer have to pay the tax this year.

The announcement, which also covers bingo halls, means companies with rateable properties will be exempt from April 1st for business rates in 2020-2021.

Following property industry howls of protest when Chancellor Rishi Sunak made the original announcement last week that tanning shops and even holiday homes would not have to pay business rates, the government has now relented following the lock-down.

Although some estate agents kept their branches staffed but not open to the public yesterday, almost all have now shut up shop and sent staff home or ‘furloughed’ them.

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to support businesses during Covid-19, which is why we have extended business rates relief for the high street,” the Chancellor says.

mark hayward naeaMark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark, comments: “We are pleased to see that the Government has listened and acknowledged the concerns from many estate and letting agencies across the country, that resulted in requests to three Secretaries of State last week for the business rates relief to be extended to estate and letting agents.

“This is a real boost in uncertain times and will assist all businesses that are finding it difficult to operate in the current environment.”
Eligible businesses will be rebilled by their local authority and the new bill will give them the discount of 100%.”

Isobel Thomson, NALS, imaeIsobel Thomson, Chief Executive, safeagent, said: “We’re grateful to the Government for recognising the urgent need to extend the business rate exemption to estate and letting agents. There are tough times ahead for the industry and it was crucial that this support was extended.

“safeagent, along with other industry organisations has pressed Government hard over the last few weeks on the issue of business rates, and we appreciate they have listened.”

 

March 25, 2020

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