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Rates (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2012

Section 2: Temporary rebate for certain previously unoccupied hereditaments, etc.

This section inserts a new Article 31D into the Rates (Northern Ireland) Order 1977, providing for a temporary 50% rebate for certain previously unoccupied hereditaments, etc.

Provision is made in paragraph (1) of the new Article, subject to the further provisions of that Article, for the Department to grant to a relevant person a rebate from the rates chargeable in respect of the net annual value of a hereditament to which the Article applies. The rebate will therefore only apply to non-domestic properties.

Paragraph (2) provides that no rebate shall be granted except where an application is made to the Department before 1st April 2013 by a relevant person. It also provides that the application must contain such information as the Department may reasonably require.

Paragraphs (3) and (4) specify the hereditaments to which the Article applies, namely hereditaments which become occupied during the 2012/13 rating year after having been unoccupied for a continuous period of twelve months or more and which, when last occupied, were used for retail purposes or which, if never previously occupied, could reasonably have been considered by the Department as likely, when next in use, to be used for retail purposes.

Paragraphs (5) and (6) set out a range of definitions used in the new Article.

Paragraph (7) provides that the rebate shall be granted for a period of 12 months from the date of occupation, and shall be 50% of the rates chargeable in respect of the net annual value of the hereditament.

Paragraph (8) provides that a rebate shall come to an end if a person ceases to occupy the hereditament and shall be reduced to the extent (if any) that it breaches EU state aid rules.

Paragraphs (9) and (10) disapply other reliefs and exemptions where a rebate is granted under the new Article 31D.

Paragraphs (11) to (14) provide that a relevant person may require the Department to review its decision on an application for a rebate and, if dissatisfied with the result of a review, appeal to the Lands Tribunal.

Paragraph (15) contains a general power to make an order, subject to the affirmative resolution, to modify paragraphs (2) to (8) of the new Article. Paragraph (16) then sets out certain things which an order may do, without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph (15). While these provisions contain the power to extend the measure beyond the 2012/13 rating year it is seen strictly as a downturn measure similar to other measures in the Act.

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