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Navigating SDLT: A Guide for UK Landlords and Investors

Published by Merisha Shrestha
Published Date: September 28, 2023

In the ever-evolving world of real estate, where fortunes can be made or lost with a single transaction, knowing how to make the right choices is paramount. Whether you're an experienced landlord managing many properties or you're new to investing in UK real estate, understanding Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is your compass for your property investment journey.

In this article, we delve into the intricate world of SDLT, examining its complexities and its significance for property investors who aim to navigate the UK property market successfully.

Understanding SDLT

Before we dive into the depths of SDLT, let's understand why this tax matters to you as a landlord or property investor. Stamp Duty Land Tax is not just another government levy; it's a fundamental aspect of property transactions in the United Kingdom, and it can have a profound impact on your property investments.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax imposed by the government on the purchase of land and property in England and Northern Ireland. It applies to both residential and non-residential properties and is calculated based on the purchase price or market value of the property being acquired.

SDLT Rates and Thresholds

SDLT is a progressive tax, meaning that the rates increase as the purchase price goes up. The rates and thresholds for SDLT can vary depending on factors such as the type of property, its value, and the buyer's circumstances.

Residential Property: Individuals

Residential property refers to any property that is intended to be used as a place of residence or dwelling.

The SDLT rates for residential properties vary depending on whether you are a UK resident or a non-UK resident.

Residential Property: Corporate Bodies
  • SDLT Rates For uK Residents

  • SDLT Rates For Non-UK Residents

Purchase Price/Lease Premium/Transfer Value

SDLT Rate for a Single Property

 Additional Rate

Up to £250,000

0%

3%

£250,001 to £925,000

5%

8%

£925,001 to £1.5 million

10%

13%

Over £1.5 million

12%

15%

Higher SDLT rates for Additional Dwellings

The higher SDLT rates come into effect when you purchase an additional residential property, subject to specific conditions, which include:

  • The property you are acquiring is not your only residential property worth £40,000 or more, whether in the UK or elsewhere in the world.
  • The purchased dwelling is not a replacement for your only or main residence.
  • No one else should have a lease on the property you're purchasing, with more than 21 years left to run.

Note: If you are married or in a civil partnership, the higher SDLT rules apply to both partners as if you were jointly purchasing the property. In this context, couples are treated as single individuals for SDLT purposes.

Consequently, if either of you individually meets the criteria for paying the higher rates, the entire transaction will be subject to higher SDLT rates.

Non-Resident Landlords

Generally, if you haven't been present in the UK for at least 183 days (equivalent to 6 months) during the 12 months before your property purchase, you are considered a ‘Non-UK Resident' for SDLT purposes.


With effect from 1 April 2021, a further 2% surcharge applies for the purchase of residential property by non-UK resident landlords and property investors. To be subject to this non-resident surcharge, the following criteria must be met:

  • You must be a non-UK resident.
  • The consideration amount must be £40,000 or more.


The non-resident surcharge is applicable to first-time buyers and the acquisition of additional dwellings, regardless of whether the property being purchased is freehold or leasehold.

Note: In a marriage or civil partnership, if you are purchasing the property jointly and you are not separated, with neither of you acting as a trustee of a settlement, then if one of you is a UK resident for the transaction, both of you are considered UK residents for that particular transaction.

Residential Property: Corporate Bodies

Residential Property Corporate Bodies

When it comes to residential properties priced above £500,000 and acquired by specific corporate bodies or 'non-natural persons’, SDLT is levied at a flat rate of 15%.

These entities encompass companies, partnerships with at least one corporate partner, and collective investment schemes.

The 15% flat rate applies even if it is the purchase of an additional property by corporate bodies.

Purchase Price/Lease Premium/Transfer Value > £500,000

15%
Flat SDLT rate

Non-Resident Corporate Bodies

The 2% non-resident surcharge on residential properties in England and Northern Ireland also applies if bought by non-UK resident corporate bodies on or after 1 April 2021.

Purchase Price/Lease Premium/Transfer Value > £500,000

17%
Flat SDLT rate

Relief from Higher SDLT Rate for Corporate Bodies

There is a relief from higher SDLT rates at 15% for corporate bodies (17% for non-residents) if the property meets any of the following criteria:

  • Utilised in a property rental business.
  • Acquired by a property developer or trader.
  • Employed in a trade that involves making the property accessible to the public.
  • Purchased by a financial institution as part of lending activities.
  • Occupied by employees of the purchaser.
  • Classified as a farmhouse.
  • Acquired by a qualifying housing co-operative.

Additionally, the higher SDLT flat rate doesn't apply when a company acts as a trustee of a settlement.

Interaction of SDLT Flat Rate with Standard Rules

When corporate bodies are exempt from the SDLT flat rates of 15% or 17%, or if the property's value is below £500,000, the following rates apply:

Purchase Price/Lease Premium/Transfer Value

Resident Corporate Bodies

Non-Resident Corporate Bodies

Up to £250,000

3%

5%

£250,001 to £925,000

8%

10%

£925,001 to £1.5 million

13%

15%

Over £1.5 million

15%

17%

Non-Residential Property

If you’re a property investor who invests in non-residential properties, it is important to note that rates and thresholds for non-residential properties differ from residential ones.

Non-residential properties usually include the following:

Non-Residential Property
  • Commercial properties, such as shops or office spaces.
  • Properties that are not suitable for residential purposes.
  • Forested areas
  • Agricultural land
  • Any other land or property that does not form part of a dwelling's garden or grounds.
  • Transactions involving the acquisition of six or more residential properties in a single transaction.

Mixed-Use Property

A Mixed-Use Property refers to a property that incorporates both residential and non-residential components, such as a flat linked to a shop.

Non-Residential/Mixed-Use Property: Freehold

SDLT is payable on the portion of the chargeable consideration which falls on the relevant band:

Purchase Price/Lease Premium/Transfer Value

SDLT Rate

Up to £150,000

0%

£150,001 to £250,000

2%

Over £250,000

5%

New Leasehold Sales and Transfers

New Leasehold Sales and Transfers

A leasehold property is a form of property ownership where you hold the right to occupy the property for a predetermined duration, often 99 years or more.

This right is established through a legal agreement between you and the landlord.The lease specifies the length of your ownership, and once it expires, ownership of the property reverts to the landlord.

If you are in the process of acquiring a new residential/non-residential/mixed-use leasehold property, it's important to be aware that you will be liable for stamp duty land tax on two components:

  • The purchase price of the lease is calculated based on the above applicable SDLT rates.
  • The value of the annual rent you are required to pay, referred to as the 'net present value.

The net present value is determined by the total rent over the life of the lease. These two SDLT calculations should be computed separately and then combined to determine the total SDLT liability.The lease specifies the length of your ownership, and once it expires, ownership of the property reverts to the landlord.

Residential Property

Net Present Value of Rent

UK Residents

Non-UK Residents

Up to £250,000

0%

2%

Over £250,000

1% of NPV that exceeds £250,000

3% of NPV that exceeds £250,000

Non-Residential/Mixed-Use Property

Net Present Value of Rent

SDLT Rate

Up to £150,000

0%

£150,001 to £5 million

1%

Over £5 million

2%

Assigned Leases

An assigned lease refers to a leasehold property where the lease has been transferred or assigned from one party (the assignor) to another (the assignee). This assignment typically occurs through a legal agreement, and it can involve both residential leasehold properties and non-residential leasehold properties.

When a lease is assigned, the transaction is handled similarly to the purchase of a freehold property. Therefore, the new tenant is required to pay SDLT based on any chargeable consideration involved using the SDLT rates applicable to a freehold residential property or freehold non-residential property.

Rent-to-rent investors operating in the UK may come across scenarios that involve assigned leases. In such cases, the assignee, who is often a rent-to-rent investor, assumes responsibility for SDLT payments based on the chargeable consideration.

It's essential for rent-to-rent investors to be aware of the SDLT implications in these scenarios, as it can impact the overall financial dynamics of their property investment strategies.

New Leases with Nominal Rent

When acquiring a new lease and paying a premium, while the rent remains nominal, SDLT is calculated only on the premium amount regardless of whether the property is a residential or non-residential property.


The calculation of SDLT on the premium is the same as for the freehold property. However, the applicable tax rates vary depending on whether the property is categorised as residential or non-residential.


It's essential to complete an SDLT return if the sale price reaches or exceeds £40,000, even in cases where no SDLT payment is required. However, if the lease duration is less than 7 years and no SDLT is owed, you are exempt from submitting an SDLT return.

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SDLT Reliefs

There exist several SDLT reliefs that can significantly reduce SDLT liabilities for landlords and property investors.

SDLT Reliefs

These reliefs, which must be claimed on the SDLT return, offer an opportunity to optimise their tax positions. Below are some of the key SDLT reliefs:

First-Time Buyer’s Relief

A first-time buyer is an individual who has never held ownership of a Freehold or Leasehold interest in any residential property, either within the UK or anywhere else globally, and who plans to make the property their sole and primary residence. This relief becomes applicable when the total consideration for the residential property is £625,000 or less.

Purchase Price/Lease Premium/Transfer Value

UK Residents

Non-UK Residents

Up to £425,000

0%

2%

£425,001 to £625,000

5%

7%

Multiple Dwellings Relief

Multiple Dwellings Relief (MDR) is a tax relief introduced by HMRC to foster investment in residential property, particularly in cases where multiple dwellings are part of a single transaction.

This relief is a valuable tool for landlords & property investors looking to reduce their SDLT liability when purchasing multiple residential units.

Where MDR is claimed, SDLT is determined by dividing the purchase price by the number of dwellings. This ‘averaged’ charge to SDLT is then multiplied by the number of dwellings involved in the transaction to calculate the total SDLT liability, potentially leading to substantial tax reductions for landlords & property investors.

HMO investors often acquire properties that consist of multiple dwellings, each typically housing individual tenants. In such cases, MDR can be a valuable tool to reduce SDLT liabilities. However, to qualify for MDR, it's essential that the property meets the specific criteria defining a 'distinct dwelling.'

Generally, a distinct dwelling is defined as a property that is habitable at the time of sale, equipped with essential amenities for cooking, washing, and sleeping, while also providing occupants with the ability to enjoy privacy and security.

3% SDLT Rebate Claim

If you purchase your new residence before selling your old one, you may be subject to an additional 3% SDLT surcharge when acquiring the new property. However, you can claim a refund from HMRC for this 3% surcharge once you successfully sell your previous residence.

This refund process is subject to specific conditions, with the primary requirement being that you must sell your old residence within a 3-year window from the purchase date of your new residence to qualify for the SDLT surcharge refund.

SDLT on Derelict Property

When you purchase an abandoned or uninhabitable property which is not deemed ‘suitable for use as a dwelling’, then the non-residential rates apply. However, if you initially paid the higher residential SDLT rates  when acquiring an additional dwelling or a property that was unsuitable for use or derelict but planned to renovate or put it into use, you have the option to reclaim the SDLT for derelict properties.

This claim can only be made if the purchased dwelling is deemed 'unsuitable for use' at the time of acquisition. The SDLT can be reclaimed within a 36-month period from the date of property purchase.

Six or more rules on Residential Property

Any property transaction that includes the acquisition of a major interest in six or more residential properties is classified as a non-residential transaction. To qualify as such, these properties should ideally be covered under a single contractual agreement.

However, it's important to note that this rule is disregarded where a claim for MDR is made. Consequently, the purchaser can choose to decide whether to opt for MDR or accept the SDLT charge calculated based on non-residential rates.

SDLT Return and Payment

Submitting the SDLT return is a mandatory requirement for property transactions in the UK, and it falls under the responsibility of the purchaser to complete and promptly submit the return to HMRC. The SDLT return must be filed within 14 days from the 'effective date' of the transaction.

SDLT Return and Payment

The effective date is usually the date when the transfer is finalised. However, in some cases, it can be the date when the contract is 'substantially performed,' provided this occurs before completion.

The payment deadline aligns with the submission deadline for the SDLT return. Consequently, the SDLT payment must also be made within the 14-day timeframe from the effective date of the transaction.

SDLT Exemptions

You are not required to submit a return or make tax payments in the following situations:

 Property transfer with no consideration involved.

Transfer of property due to divorce.

Purchase of a freehold property valued at less than £40,000.

Leasehold property with a premium below £40,000 and an annual rent below £1,000.

Property transfer as specified in a will.

SDLT Penalties

Failing to submit the SDLT return within the deadline will result in an automatic fixed penalty. The amount of this penalty depends on how late the return is filed.

Timeframe

Penalty Amount

Within 3 months after the filing date

£100

More than 3 months after the filing date

£200

In addition to the fixed penalty, if your return remains unfiled for over 12 months after the filing date, you will incur a tax-based penalty that can go up to 100% of the SDLT due.

Furthermore, HMRC will also charge interest starting from the day following the original payment due date until the day you settle the outstanding amount.

Conclusion

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a crucial consideration for landlords and property investors operating in the UK. Your status as a landlord, whether you are an individual, non-resident, corporate entity, or commercial property investor, can significantly impact SDLT rates and regulations applicable to your property transactions.

Therefore, remaining well-informed about the SDLT landscape and seeking professional guidance as necessary is essential to ensure compliance and optimise your property investment strategies.

Ready to Navigate the World of SDLT for UK Property?

Contact us today for efficient and hassle-free assistance.

Merisha Shrestha
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