Property industry warns that new commercial developments will be threatened by the tax which comes into force today

The government’s reforms of empty property relief will take effect from today, in spite of warnings from the property industry that commercial developments could be at risk as a result.

A joint letter has been sent by key industry figures to communities minister John Healy expressing “deep disappointment” at the government’s decision to enforce a tax on all empty commercial buildings for the first time.

British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace, RICS chief executive Louis Armstrong, and British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Richardson have signed the letter accusing the government of introducing the tax with the “barely concealed intent” to raise £1bn of extra revenue.

The letter reads: “As a result of this legislation, it is recognised by regional development agencies and local authorities that many commercial developments will simply not start.”

“In recent memory there has not been any measure introduced by a Government that has galvanised all sectors of the property market in the way this legislation has done and, especially given the fragile condition of the current economy.”

In spite of the letter, the new tax will go ahead from this morning. Full rates will be charged on empty properties after either three or six month exemption periods have expired. Properties that have already been vacant for three or six months as of today will attract the full rate.