Should Student Homes to Be Subject to Business Rates?

my-university-library-4-1442029University towns are apt to complain that landlords and letting agents, letting exclusively to students fail to contribute enough to local coffers since their tenants are exempt from paying Council Tax.

This of course ignores the supplement they receive in lieu of Council Tax receipts for these properties – but never mind.

As a consequence it is not uncommon to hear the refrain that landlords should be expected to pay Business Rates on their properties, specifically those which house students and are as such exempt from Council Tax.

In fact a few council have gone so far as to lobby central government for the the power to charge business rates – as illustrated by Liverpool and Canterbury .

It is arguable whether any government minister or official has ever taken such a demand seriously, but it remains reassuring that the minister for local government is happy to dismiss the calls by the MP for Bristol West made in the House of Commons on 30 October 2017.

Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab) asked:

In Bristol, university expansion means that a significant increase in student numbers is putting pressure on stretched local services right now, yet student accommodation providers contribute almost nothing to the costs. Will the Secretary of State meet me to discuss bringing student accommodation within the scope of business rates, like other businesses, to help to ease this strain on Bristol and other councils? 

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Marcus Jones) answered:

I can confirm to the hon. Lady that we have no plans to change business rates by bringing student accommodation into their scope as she advocates.


Well done Mr Jones – it’s nice to see commonsense prevail.


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