Higher rates for vacant shops

City of Fremantle, Western Australia, will investigate if it’s possible to charge landowners higher rates if their city centre properties remain vacant for an extended period.

The Fremantle Council last month supported a motion by City Ward councillor Rachel Pemberton requesting the chief executive officer investigate Council’s ability to apply a differential rate in the 2019/20 financial year on commercial properties that have been vacant for more than 12 months.

The proposed higher rate would only apply to ground floor areas and would exclude properties that are under redevelopment.

Councillor Pemberton said the aim was to encourage landowners to lower their rents to attract more tenants.

“Empty shops can have a domino effect, hurting the other businesses around them.

“Our community has been asking that the council does something to reduce rents, but our ability to influence rents is limited.

“This initiative is targeting landlords who are holding out for top dollar rents that are no longer feasible in today’s market.

“There are many local creatives, start-ups, small businesses and local community groups looking for affordable space, even on a short term basis.

“This is putting landlords on notice to renegotiate with existing or prospective tenants, consider pop-ups or initiate redevelopment over the next 12 months.

“We’re aiming to decrease the vacancy rate in the CBD and in doing so, support local business and ensure a vibrant, safe city.”
The scale of the proposed differential rate and how it could be applied will be investigated over the coming months.