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Category: Rental Properties

Bank of England (BoE) base rate rises to 0.75% – what it means for consumers and businesses

Bank of England (BoE) base rate rises to 0.75% – what it means for consumers and businesses

The Bank of England (BoE) base rate rose to 0.75% in March in response to Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rising to 5.5% – almost triple the BoE’s target of 2%. Inflation is set to continue rising throughout the year (see Spring Statement round-up) with the Russian invasion of Ukraine creating increased pressure on already rising prices.

What does it mean for you?

Any rise in the base rate has an impact on borrowing rates for businesses and individuals, and on savings rates. Each is likely to rise – great news for savers, not such great news for borrowers.

How will borrowers be affected?

Any loan you have that does not have a fixed rate – such as some mortgages, personal loans or credit card debt, for example – could face a rise in interest rates if the company providing this chooses to pass this rate on. And many will.

However, if you have a fixed-rate mortgage, unsecured personal loan or other loan, for example, then you will not see these rates change until you reach the end of the offer term or until the loan is paid off.

How are savers affected?

If you have savings in a fixed-rate account, these will not rise either. But if your savings are in a non-fixed interest rate account, then you could see the interest you are paid on this rise.

If you see a better rate than you are being paid elsewhere, then it is worth considering moving your savings to the better-paying account. But bear in mind if you are in a fixed-rate account, you could face a penalty for doing this which could negate the benefit of moving. So, check with an expert before taking any action.

Safety net

You also need to consider how much of your money is in each institution. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) covers your money on deposit with a single institution up to £85,000. But you need to be aware that various brands come under one institution – such as Halifax and TSB coming under the Lloyds Banking Group.

You would be covered up to £85,000 across all these accounts, not in each. It only becomes relevant if one of the banks goes bust, but we know from experience that however unlikely, this can happen. So, it is something to bear in mind.

Find out how we can help you

If you are unsure about whether your money is working as hard for you as it could, then please feel free to get in touch and we will help you in any way we can.

April 20, 2022

Stamp Duty Land Tax – why this will increase as house prices rise and what you can do to reduce it

Stamp Duty Land Tax – why this will increase as house prices rise and what you can do to reduce it

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) receipts were somewhat skewed in the last year as the SDLT holiday for properties worth up to £500,000 was phased out on June 30, 2021, and the holiday for properties worth between £125,000 and £250,000 ended on September 30.

These two deadlines resulted in a flurry of activity as people tried to complete purchases under the wire and avoid having to pay SDLT on their purchases. The result, according to Government data, was that transactions in October to December last year were 10% lower than the previous quarter, and 13% lower than Q4 2020.

Total receipts up in Q4 2021

However, despite this, total receipts in Q4 2021 were 22% higher than Q3 2021, and 55% higher than Q4 2020. This change in receipts will have largely been impacted by the lower residential nil-rate band of £125,000 for Q4 last year compared to £250,000 for Q3 2021 and £500,000 for Q4 2020.

House prices continue to rise, and while the thresholds stay the same, the receipts are likely to increase if property sales continue at the same pace.

2% SDLT surcharge for non-residents

One additional consideration is the application of additional taxes on properties bought by people who are non-resident in the UK. These purchases have faced a 2% SDLT surcharge since April last year. To the end of Q4 last year, this had resulted in 8,500 transactions paying £86m.

Possible ways to reduce SDLT

There are a few things you can do to mitigate your SDLT, including buying a property in a lower price bracket or negotiating a different price with the seller that brings you below a threshold. But beware, HMRC would be likely to take a dim view of any price cuts that mean you are buying a property for what would not be considered the full market value.

If you bought a second home and paid the additional 3% SDLT as a result, then if you sell your main residence within three years of completing on the second property, you may be able to reclaim a refund of the 3% surcharge amount. This could be a substantial sum and is worth considering if you plan to sell your main home soon after buying a second home.

You can also negotiate a price for removable fixtures and fittings that the seller is prepared to leave behind, as you only pay SDLT on the property purchase itself. This could reduce the price to drop you into a lower tax band, but HMRC insists this is done on a “just and reasonable basis” so you would need to make sure you get legal advice on how to do this properly.

First-time buyers also currently do not pay SDLT on properties worth up to £300,000 so providing you buy a property below this level, you will not pay SDLT.

You can also build your own property if that is something that appeals to you. You would pay the SDLT purely on the cost of the land purchased, which is likely to be considerably lower than buying a property already on the land. Extreme, yes, but an option for the right person.

Find out how we can help you

If you have a query about SDLT and how you can deal with tax, then please give us a call and we can guide you through what you can and cannot do to mitigate this tax.

March 21, 2022

Businesses must prepare as wider creditor action protections end in March

Businesses must prepare as wider creditor action protections end in March

Companies with debts outside of their rental arrears face the removal of protection against creditor actions from March 31, 2022.

Other debts outside rental arrears affected

Currently, rent arrears built up because of forced closures as a result of COVID-19 are excluded from these measures, as they are covered by other legislation

Any debts outside of rent arrears, must reach a £10,000 threshold before a winding-up petition can be filed. Before the filing, the creditor must have given the debtor a notice – called a Schedule 10 Notice – which states that if a proposal for payment of the debt has not been made within 21 days of the notice, then the creditor intends to file a winding-up petition.

Firms must prepare to deal with possible litigation from April 2022

However, these restrictions end on March 31, so any business with debts of more than £10,000 that are not related to rent arrears needs to be sure it is prepared for these protections to be removed, unless more legislation is passed before that date.

Challenges could be made for as little as £750 owed

Law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer highlighted that the Government has not changed the threshold to serve a statutory demand for winding-up from £750. So, while the current legislation is in place there are two thresholds in place for the compulsory winding-up process. But once Schedule 10 notices are repealed, the lower level of £750 remains.

Find out how we can help you

If you have debts outside of rental arrears that have built up due to difficult trading conditions during the pandemic, or because of forced closures, then please contact us to find out how we can help you manage this most effectively for your business.

February 21, 2022

Landlords and tenants face legally binding arbitration over rent arrear disputes

Landlords and tenants face legally binding arbitration over rent arrear disputes

Companies forced to close due to Coronavirus restrictions are currently protected from eviction by landlords until March 25, but a Government Bill currently before Parliament is expected to create binding arbitration following this date.

Code of Practice

The Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill, which was originally announced alongside a Code of Practice by Kwasi Kwarteng on November 9, 2021 protects commercial tenants in arrears from being evicted. The aim is to encourage landlords and tenants to negotiate how to deal with these arrears and to share the cost of commercial rent debts caused as a result of closures during the pandemic.

The Code of Practice outlines the process for tenants and landlords to settle outstanding debts. But any ongoing disputes after March 25 could be settled by binding arbitration if the Bill successfully passes through Parliament.

Debts built up by the likes of pubs, gyms and restaurants as a result of their forced closure during the pandemic will be within the scope of the legislation. Any debts built up outside of these times will be excluded, as will debts resulting from the voluntary closure of a business where it would not have been forced to close under the emergency measures.

Since November 10, 2021, the existing legislation has protected commercial tenants from County Court Judgements, High Court Judgements and bankruptcy petitions issued against them because of rent arrears accruing during the pandemic.

However, if no agreement can be reached, then either the tenant or landlord can apply for arbitration unilaterally. The arbitration can be applied for within six months of the legislation coming into force with the tenant expected to repay the final agreed amount within 24 months.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said at the launch: “We encourage landlords and tenants to keep working together to reach their own agreements ahead of the new laws coming into place, and we expect tenants capable of paying rent to do so.”

Support for the moves, but ‘devil is in the detail’

Kate Nicholls OBE, CEO of UK Hospitality, said: “It is in the long-term interests of landlords and tenants to come together and find solutions that ensure business survival and that do not undermine the economic recovery.

“We share government’s view that arbitration should be a last resort and this process must take into account the exceptional and existential level of pain that hospitality businesses have faced over the last 18 months. It must not impact this industry’s ability to rapidly recover and create jobs throughout the country.”

However, while Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, supports the principle of compulsory arbitration, she said the “devil will be in the detail on issues around what tenant viability really means in practice and the power of arbitrators”.

She added: “We will engage closely and constructively with government to help ensure their proposals protect otherwise viable businesses, secure the recovery, and protect jobs.”

We can support you if you have rental arrears

If you have rental arrears due to forced closures during the pandemic, then please get in touch so we can help support you through this difficult time.

February 14, 2022

New lower temporary SDLT threshold

New lower temporary SDLT threshold

The residential stamp duty land tax (SDLT) threshold applying in England and Northern Ireland was temporarily increased to £500,000 from 8 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 (extended from the original end date of 31 March 2021). From 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021, a new temporary residential threshold of £250,000 applies. The threshold reverts to its usual level of £125,000 from 1 October 2021. Details of the rates can be found on the Gov.uk website.

Nature of the temporary threshold

To help boost house sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, the SDLT residential threshold was temporarily increased. Similar measures were introduced in Scotland in relation to land transaction tax (LTT) and in Wales in relation to land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT).

SDLT: 8 July 2020 to 30 June 2021

A higher temporary residential SDLT threshold of £500,000 applied in England and Northern Ireland where completion took place between 8 July 2020 and 30 June 2021. The usual rates applied to any consideration in excess of £500,000.

SDLT: 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021

From 1 July 2021, the SDLT residential threshold drops to a new temporary level of £250,000. If you are in the process of buying a house and missed the 30 June 2021 completion deadline, you will be able to save SDLT of up to £2,500 if you complete by 30 September 2021.

The residential rates applying during this period are as set out in the table below.

ConsiderationOnly or main homeSecond and subsequent properties
Up to £250,0000%3%
The next £675,000 (£250,001 to £925,000)5%8%
The next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
Remaining amount12%15%

First-time buyers

From 1 July 2021, the threshold for first-time buyers reverts to £300,000 where the consideration is £500,000. First-time buyers pay no SDLT on the first £300,000 and pay SDLT at the rate of 5% on any consideration in excess of £300,000 up to £500,000. If the consideration is more than £500,000, the above rates and residential threshold apply.

SDLT: From 1 October 2021

The residential SDLT threshold reverts to its usual level of £125,000 from 1 October 2021. Purchasers will pay SDLT at a rate of 2% on the portion from £125,000 to £250,000. Above £250,000, the rates are as in the table above.

Second and subsequent properties

Investors and second-home owners also benefit from the temporary residential thresholds as the 3% supplement is added to the residential rates as reduced.

Scotland

The LTT threshold in Scotland was increased to £250,000 from 15 July 2020 until 31 March 2021. However, this period was not extended, and the threshold reverted to £145,000 from 1 April 2021. As in England and Northern Ireland, those buying second and subsequent properties benefited from the higher threshold; the 4% supplement was applied to the reduced residential rates.

Wales

The LBTT threshold in Wales was increased to £250,000 from 27 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, reverting to £180,000 from 1 July 2021. Unlike the rest of the UK, purchasers of second and subsequent properties in Wales did not benefit from the higher threshold.

Speak to us

If you are thinking of moving home or buying a holiday or investment property, speak to us to find out whether you can save SDLT.

August 2, 2021

Higher residential SDLT threshold extended

Higher residential SDLT threshold extended

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) is payable when you buy a property in England or Northern Ireland. Last year, the SDLT residential threshold was temporarily increased to £500,000 with effect from 8 July 2020. The threshold was due to revert to its normal level of £125,000 from 1 April 2021, but this has now been delayed.

The residential threshold applying in Scotland for Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) was also increased for a temporary period, but reverted to its normal level of £145,000 from 1 April 2021. In Wales, the residential Land Transaction Tax (LTT) threshold was increased to £250,000 from 27 July 2020. It will remain at this level until 30 June 2021, reverting to its usual level of £180,000 from 1 July 2021.

SDLT residential threshold – 8 July 2020 to 30 June 2021

The SDLT residential threshold will remain at £500,000 until 30 June 2021. The rates applying until that date are set out below.

Property valueMain homeAdditional properties
Up to £500,000Zero3%
Next £425,000 (£500,001 to £925,000)5%8%
Next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
The remaining amount (over £1.5 million)12%15%

SDLT residential threshold – 1 July 2020 to 30 September 2021

From 1 July 2021 until 30 September 2021, a lower temporary residential SDLT threshold of £250,000 will apply. The first-time buyer threshold (which applies where the consideration does not exceed £500,000) reverts to £300,000 from 1 July 2021.

The SDLT rates applying for this period are set out below.

Property valueMain homeAdditional properties
Up to £250,000Zero3%
Next £675,000 (£250,001 to £925,000)5%8%
Next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
The remaining amount (over £1.5 million)12%15%

SDLT residential threshold from 1 October 2021

The SDLT residential threshold returns to £125,000 from 1 October 2021. The residential rates applying from that date are set out below.

Property valueMain homeAdditional properties
Up to £125,000Zero3%
The next £125,000 (£125,001 to £250,000)2%5%
Next £675,000 (£500,001 to £925,000)5%8%
Next £575,000 (£925,001 to £1.5 million)10%13%
The remaining amount (over £1.5 million)12%15%

Contact us

If you are looking to buy a property this year, speak to us to find out what you can save by completing the sale by 30 June 2021 or, if this is not possible, by 30 September 2021. Remember, if you are looking to buy an investment property, you will also benefit from the higher thresholds as the 3% supplement is added to the residential rates, as reduced.

May 31, 2021

Furnished holiday lettings and lockdowns

Furnished holiday lettings and lockdowns

The second National Lockdown and local restrictions may mean that you are unable to meet the tests for your holiday let to qualify as a furnished holiday letting (FHL) for 2020/21. However, where this is the case, all is not lost as there are alternative routes by which your let might meet the FHL requirements.

FHL tests

To qualify for the more advantageous FHL tax regime, your property must be let commercially, let furnished, and it must be in the UK or the EEA. It must also meet all of the following occupancy conditions.

  1. The pattern of occupancy condition – the total of all lettings that exceed 31 continuous days in the tax year cannot be more than 155 days.
  2. The availability condition – your property must be available for letting as furnished accommodation for at least 210 days in the tax year. Days that you stay in the property do not count.
  3. The letting condition – your property must be let commercially as furnished holiday accommodation for at least 105 days in the tax year (excluding lets of more than 31 days and days occupied cheaply or free by family and friends).

If you have failed to meet the letting condition in 2020/21 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to make an averaging and/or a period of grace election to help you reach the magic number. HMRC Helpsheet HS253 contains further details.

Averaging election

If you have more than one property that you let out as furnished holiday accommodation, you may be able to use an averaging election to help all your properties to qualify. This will be the case if some but not all of the lets meet the letting condition. An averaging election allows the condition to be met by reference to the average occupancy across all your holiday lets. For example, if you have three holiday lets and the total number of days in the tax year on which the properties are let as furnished holiday accommodation is at least 315 days, all 3 properties will meet the requirement. The average let will be at least 105 days.

An averaging election for 2020/21 must be made by 31 January 2023.

Period of grace election

A period of grace election can be made as well as, or instead of, an averaging election. It will help if you genuinely intended to meet the letting conditions, but were unable to do so, for example, because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To qualify, the property must have met the letting requirement for the year before the year for which you first wish to make a period of grace election; so, if the first year for which an election is required is 2020/21, the letting condition must have been met (individually or as a result of an averaging election) in 2019/20. A second election can be made for 2021/22 if the condition is not met again in that year. However, your property must meet the requirement in 2022/23 if it is to continue to qualify as a FHL.

As with an averaging election, a period of grace election for 2020/21 must be made by 31 January 2023.

Talk to us

Contact us to discuss how you can ensure that your holiday let qualifies for the favourable FHL tax regime.

December 16, 2020