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Buying a country estate with tenants

It is important to establish the basis on which tenants occupy cottages on an estate, since residential tenants can have significant rights. For example, it may not be possible to obtain vacant possession merely by terminating the relevant tenancy agreement. It is also possible that there is no written tenancy agreement in place at all, adding further complication. In the case of agricultural workers, they may enjoy both the right to remain in occupation and an accompanying right of succession available to their families. The buyer and their advisers need to ask the seller detailed questions about the basis on which tenants occupy cottages.

There are commonly missed SDLT benefits available when purchasing an estate with more than one residence on it.  If there are six or more dwellings on the estate all purchased at the same time, this may attract non-residential rates of SDLT (with a top rate of 5%) rather than the residential rates (with its top rate at 15%).  Separately, Multiple Dwellings Relief is available whenever more than one dwelling is sold and should also be considered.   

If the dwellings are let, then make sure that advice is taken to ensure all the appropriate deductions are made when computing the rental income on which tax will be payable. Such deductions include costs of advertising, any managing agents' fees and relevant mortgage interest costs.

This article appeared in Country Life on 22 March 2017.

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