Belfast Telegraph

Static commercial property rates to be 2013's big issue, says report

By Clare Weir

Commercial rates will remain static and will likely be more of an issue than rental costs during 2013, a property consultancy has predicted.

The news comes as Belfast traders this week called for a rates freeze, holiday or rebate in the wake of street violence which has scared many shoppers and investors out of doing business in the city.

Some have threatened to withhold payment, saying their business has been damaged by Belfast City Council's decision to debate discussing the removal of the union flag from City Hall just weeks before Christmas.

According to CBRE's Outlook 2013 report, while they expect prime rental values to stabilise during 2013 they say that there is potential for further rental declines outside of prime locations.

The report said that the one area where costs have not fluctuated is commercial rates, and this is likely to be the focus of more attention than rental costs during 2013.

The body has warned that the availability of grade A office accommodation will continue to decrease over the course of 2013 and that as a result, office refurbishment projects may increase.

Although conditions in the retail sector of the economy are likely to remain difficult this year, CBRE expect to see some activity with existing retailers and some new entrants taking advantage of the ability to negotiate favourable deals across the region.

The report says prospects for the hotel and leisure sector look promising because of a number of large tourism events - and June's G8 summit of world leaders, which takes place in Co Fermanagh's Lough Erne Hotel and Golf Resort.