Accidentally becoming a landlord

You may not think of yourself as a landlord - but do HMRC?

From time to time, HMRC run campaigns targeted at specific business sectors to help people bring their tax affairs up to date if they have inadvertently fallen outside the rules. At present, they are running a let property campaign, aimed at individual landlords letting out residential property abroad or in the UK, and recent guidance shows some of the ways that landlords can sometimes make mistakes

One of the most common mistakes is that people simply don’t think of themselves as landlords. This can happen when someone inherits a property and then lets it out, or if they move in with a partner and then rent out their old house, or rent out a flat just to cover the mortgage payments. In fact, each of these scenarios means that HMRC need to be put in the picture, and the rental income could be liable to tax.

Other problem areas reported by HMRC are, for instance, property bought as an investment and rented out, and divorce situations where the matrimonial home is rented out and both partners move elsewhere. Difficulties are recorded where people relocate for work and rent out their house, or move into a care home and let out a house to help pay for care home fees. Issues can also arise with jointly-owned investment property, or when purchasing a property for a child at university, where other students also live there and pay rent on an informal basis. Members of the Armed Forces posted abroad, who let out a home in the UK, and people living in tied accommodation who let out a house, can also run into problems.

But it’s not all bad news. One plus point for individuals (but not partnerships) letting out property on a small scale is the introduction of a new allowance – the property allowance – from 6 April 2017. There has been quite wide-scale coverage of this in the media earlier in the year. However, the allowance only gives relief for income of up to £1,000 in the tax year.

There can be unforeseen pitfalls – and tax planning possibilities - when letting out property. Please do talk to us if we can be of help in this area.