Property industry sends open letter to chancellor calling for changes to legislation it claims was not subject to proper consultation

Leading property industry figures have written an open letter to chancellor Alistair Darling criticising legislation which will force them to pay tax on empty properties from next week.

Bodies including the British Property Federation (BPF) and RICS have called on the chancellor to reduce the level at which the empty property rates are charged.

The letter, dated 20 March, argues that the government failed to adequately consult industry experts before the enactment of the legislation.

It was signed by representatives of the BPF, RICS, CBI Property Group, Business Centre Association and Rating Surveyors Association.

They argue that the legislation will increase rental levels for the entire UK business community and will have an adverse effect on business growth rates in the economy and on UK competitiveness.

They also said that the legislation does not consider the length of time it takes to let commercial property and the any artificial delays such as the late introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

Local government minister, John Healey, has said government will take a no nonsense approach to enforcing the changes.