A huge 93% of respondents to a survey conducted by the RICS and Lambert Smith Hampton believe that empty rates are ‘exacerbating the financial difficulties of many property companies and occupiers.’

A year on from the introduction of the new legislation, the RICS and LSH’s Empty Property Rates Survey spoke to over 600 property professionals on the impact of the changes.

The survey also found that 75% believed there had been more demolitions as a result of empty rates, with 85% believing this was to avoid paying rates.

79% believed empty rates are having a detrimental effect on town regeneration and speculative development.

Gillian Charlesworth, director of external affairs at RICS, said: ‘Although the Government’s motives for reducing empty property rate relief were well intentioned when initially introduced, it is clear that the recession has led to these rates having the opposite effect and causing more damage to a sector that is already suffering.

'This survey has finally produced the evidence-based facts to support the need for changes to be made to this hugely unpopular tax.

‘On the basis of these findings, we have urged the Government to give serious consideration to increasing the empty property rate relief to 12 or even 18 months before full business rates across all non domestic properties become payable, or to remove, or significantly reduce, empty property rates across all non domestic property, in full consultation with the industry.’