Under local government legislation, the occupier of a commercial property is entitled to claim a vacancy refund for rates paid if the property has been vacant for the preceding year.
However, the property must be vacant on the date the rate is struck by the relevant Council and be vacant for one of the following two reasons:
1) An inability to obtain a suitable tenant at a reasonable rent. The onus is on the occupier to provide evidence that reasonable efforts were made to obtain a tenant, usually a letter from the letting agent and/or copy of brochure/advertising material would suffice.
2) The property is subject to significant redevelopment works. Again the occupier must provide evidence of same such as copies of planning permission or a letter from the contractor.
Please note that the occupier is expected to pay the rates for the year regardless and then apply for a refund at the end of the year although some Councils allow some flexibility in payment.