The decision of the Court of Appeal in Southwark LBC v Ludgate House  EWCA Civ 1637 will be important to owners of vacant commercial buildings who have installed live-in guardians to provide security to their properties and mitigate the cost of empty property rates.
The case concerned Ludgate House in Southwark; a large office building constructed in the 1980’s but which, by March 2015, had become vacant and has now been demolished to form part of the Bankside Gardens redevelopment.
When the building became vacant the owner entered into an arrangement with a security company to provide live-in guardians. The owner made proposals to delete the two office hereditaments from the rating list on the basis that the property was now domestic.
Overturning the decision of the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) LJ Lewison said that the Tribunal had been wrong to conclude that the guardians were in rateable occupation of their individual rooms and the rating assessment of the offices was restored.
The full judgement can be found here https://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2020/1637.html&query=(ludgate)+AND+(house)