The costs of buying commercial property

The costs of buying commercial property don’t end with the purchase price. From taxes to operating costs, there are many additional costs associated with buying commercial property that you’ll need to factor into your budget.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

Stamp Duty Land Tax (Stamp Duty) is a charge on the transaction of property paid by the buyer.

You’ll have to pay Stamp Duty if you buy commercial property worth £150,000 or more. Between £150,000 - £250,000, you’ll be charged two percent (£500) in Stamp Duty. If you buy commercial property worth more than £250,000, you’ll be charged a further five percent in Stamp Duty on the remainder of its value.

The amount of Stamp Duty you’ll have to pay also depends on whether the property is freehold or leasehold.
You can use the Stamp Duty Land Tax calculator on GOV.UK to work out how much Stamp Duty you’ll need to pay.

Bear in mind that Stamp Duty applies to England and Northern Ireland. The equivalents are Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland and Land Transaction Tax in Wales.

Business rates

Another tax you’ll probably need to pay on your new commercial property are business rates.

Business rates are a tax on most commercial properties in England and Wales and are paid by the occupier of the property.

How much you’ll need to pay in business rates is determined by your commercial property’s ‘rateable value’ – its rental value on the open market, as estimated by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).

There are several factors that could affect your rateable value, including:
  • The size of the premises
  • The type of your business
  • The value of any equipment or machinery on-site
Having a higher rateable value means that you’ll pay more in business rates.

Your business rates are calculated by subjecting your rateable value to a ‘multiplier’. This is a value set by the government each year in line with inflation.

As of 2022/23, the standard multiplier is 51.2p while the small business multiplier is 49.9p. The multipliers will be frozen at this rate until 31 March 2023. 

If you’re planning to rent out your commercial property to be used by another business, you could save money by passing your business rates bill onto your tenants.

Alternatively, if you plan to occupy the building for your own business, you can apply for exemptions, such as small business relief. You may also be eligible for a business rates relief if you’re starting up in business.

You should seek the advice of a commercial property solicitor to help you claim any business rates relief or exceptions that you may qualify for.

Renovations and building work

Once you’ve bought your commercial property, you’ll need to make it operational for your business or for possible tenants.

You may want to alter the purpose of your commercial property, for example turning a bank into a restaurant, or a shop into a post office.

All commercial property has a planning ‘use class’. Planning use classes set out which type of business can operate from the property.

Changing a commercial property’s existing use into another use is known as a ‘change of use’. A change of use can occur within the same use class, such as from a shop (Use Class A1) into a post office (Use Class A1), or from one use class to another, such as from a bank (Use Class A2) into a restaurant (Use Class A3).

Generally, you’ll need to get planning permission to change commercial property from one use class to another. A planning application for a change of use of commercial property usually costs £96, or £206 if the change of use requires building work.

Of course, the cost of renovations will vary in each case and depends upon the extent of the building work. You should factor into your budget the cost of any possible building work you will need to make the property suitable for your business purposes, particularly if you think it will be substantial.

Regardless of what you plan to do with your commercial property, you’ll need to make sure that the site meets health and safety regulations before you can open for business. Before buying the property, you should check to see how much it would cost to bring it up to standard.

A commercial property solicitor can help to give you an idea of how much any building work would cost and whether it would be a good investment.

Ongoing costs

There are many ongoing costs associated with owning commercial property that you should factor into your budget, including:
  • Insurance payments
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Energy costs
  • Service charges, such as waste collection
Most of these costs will be specific to the commercial property you’re interested in and where it’s located, but you can get a good sense of what a property’s energy costs are likely to be by looking at its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

The EPC tells you how energy efficient a property is, with ‘A’ being the most efficient and ‘G’ being the least efficient. Take this rating into account when you’re thinking about a budget for your commercial property’s energy costs.

EPCs are a legal requirement if you are renting, selling, or building a property in the UK. Learn more about how much an EPC costs using Reallymoving’s useful guide.

Legal advice

An essential cost that you’ll need to account for is the advice of a commercial estate agent and a solicitor. They’ll help you to navigate through regulations, give you an idea of the cost of any building work, and help you to claim any tax relief you might be eligible for. They can also help you to consider whether your plans for the commercial property would make it a good investment.
Looking for legal advice? Find a solicitor to help you with buying commercial property on The Law Superstore.

Adam Rivers

Adam creates supportive, easy to read guides for The Law Superstore. He specialises in family law, helping people through divorce, child custody arrangements, and other relationship issues.