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Government confirms stamp duty changes – what does this mean for you?

  1. 22 March 2016
  2. By Rosie Rogers

George Osborne first announced the controversial 3% stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let and second home owners in his Autumn Statement last November. 

Now, in his eighth budget since becoming Chancellor in 2010, he has confirmed that the changes will come into play on April 1.

There has been plenty of focus about how this will affect buy-to-let investors and the buy-to-let market in general. 
There have been numerous calls from landlords and property investors for the Chancellor to rethink his position and various threats that the changes will see a mass exodus of landlords from the private rented sector (PRS).  While these concerns are important and deserve plenty of coverage, the non buy-to-let market has been rather overlooked in all the furore.

Principally, the cases of first-time buyers who are being helped out by the “Bank of Mum and Dad” to get a first foot on the property ladder. 

Parents might be buying their offspring a home outright, to help them onto the ladder, or they might be giving them a helping hand in terms of a deposit or other fees. 

Either way, if a parent's name is on the deeds then this will count as an additional home and they will be subject to the 3% stamp duty surcharge. 

As a result, it's important that first-time buyers who are relying on financial support from their parents ensure that their parent's names are not included on the deeds. That way the stamp duty for a second home will be swerved. 

The stamp duty changes will also have an impact on those buyers who are funding the purchase of a new home with the sale of their existing one – they could, through no fault of their own, end up owning two residential properties at completion. 

They will be second home owners only because their buyer in the chain has pulled out but they have pushed ahead with a purchase – aided by a bridging loan. 

The seller gets a bridging loan whilst they move into their new home, then they'll be charged the 3% surcharge and have a time limit to claim it back.    

Put simply, the efforts to deter and dissuade people from buying buy-to-let properties and second homes could have the unintended effect of penalising those who are looking to move up the property ladder with their second, third or fourth purchases.

Furthermore, newly-weds, civil partners and those who are going through family breakdowns could all be affected by the stamp duty surcharge. 

For instance, if a couple splits and either the man or woman moves out to buy a flat close to the family home they will have to pay the 3% surcharge if they are still named on the original marital home – even though they are buying a home to live in rather than one to rent out to others, it will still be classified as a second home.  

While public support for restricting buy-to-let investors from expanding their portfolio or preventing second home owners from buying another house that they only intend to use for a few weeks every year might be strong, it's never quite as simple as that. 

The tax levied by Osborne will effect a wide range of people when it's brought in on April Fool's Day (an appropriate day for it, some might say), from parents looking to help their children onto the property ladder to those going through relationship breakups and those caught up in chain breaks.

Little seems to have been made of the consultation period that Osborne initiated after his original announcement in November last year, but it would appear the Chancellor has ignored the stark warnings that have been coming from most of the property industry. 

We will have to wait and see what impact the changes have, but it seems certain that both the buy-to-let market and non buy-to-let market will suffer as a result of the alterations made in a few weeks time. 

Please note: As of November 2017, Stamp Duty exemptions have been made for first time buyers on properties up to the value of £300,000. On properties up to the value of £500,000, first time buyers will only pay stamp duty on the remainder above £300,000. For more information, look at our guide to stamp duty.


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