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Multiple Dwellings Relief: Andrew and Tiffany Doe v HMRC

Published by UK Property Accountants
Published Date: August 10, 2023

Tax laws can be intricate, leading to legal disputes that shape the interpretation and application of taxation. This interactive article will delve into a significant tax case involving multiple dwellings relief (MDR) under Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).

We will explore the classification of a residential property as either a single dwelling or multiple dwellings, examining the statutory definition of "dwelling" and the eligibility for MDR.

By analysing the case's background, legal framework, and arguments presented by both parties, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of this landmark tax case.

The Case

The case centres around a First-tier Tribunal (FTT) decision denying the appellant multiple dwellings relief for acquiring a residential property under SDLT. The appellant challenges the FTT's decision, citing errors in interpreting the statutory definition of "dwelling" and the property's suitability for MDR. Let's explore the facts and arguments presented by both parties.

Understanding the Facts

The property is a detached house with an annexe on the first floor. The sale particulars describe two reception rooms on the ground floor, an entrance hall leading to a dining room, and a kitchen connected to a ground-floor bathroom.

On the first floor, the particulars mention two bedrooms and a separate annexe that includes its own bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. Notably, the property has two doorbells.

The Upper Tribunal's Guidance in Fiander and Brower v HMRC

The Upper Tribunal (UTT) provides valuable insights into the Fiander and Brower case, which helps elucidate the meaning of "suitable for use as a single dwelling" as outlined in paragraph 7, Schedule 6B. According to the UTT, "suitable" implies that a property must be appropriate and fit for use as a single dwelling. 

The property's status is determined by its physical attributes during the transaction. A "dwelling" refers to a place suitable for residential accommodation, fulfilling basic domestic living needs such as sleeping and attending to personal hygiene. The term "single" emphasises that the dwelling must comprise a separate self-contained living unit.

The Upper Tribunal's Guidance in Andrew and Tiffany Doe v HMRC

The suitability assessment is objective and should consider the needs of occupants generally. The UTT highlights that suitability should not be limited to relatives or squatters. Each property may present different factors, but the essential aspect is satisfying the occupant's basic living needs with privacy, self-sufficiency, and security.

Appellant's Submission

The appellant argues that the FTT failed to acknowledge that, historically, the property was used by two independent occupiers living in separate parts, meeting the criteria for a single dwelling under para 7(2) of Schedule 6B.

Appellant's submission

The FTT's focus on "redundancy" and consideration of couples with dependent children unduly overshadowed the privacy and security aspects of the property's suitability for use as a single dwelling.

The appellant claims that more than one part of the property satisfies the condition in paragraph 7(2)(A), Schedule 6B. Still, the FTT did not find evidence supporting the historical use of the property as two single dwellings.

UTT Ruling

The UTT ruled that the lack of privacy and security between different parts of the property was reasonably significant for a broader range of potential occupants beyond couples with children. The FTT's reasoning did not depend on assuming a particular type of occupant and was mindful of not doing so. 

Thus, the FTT's consideration of the lack of privacy and security in determining the property's suitability as a single dwelling was not erroneous. The UTT concluded that the FTT was justified in finding that the property was not configured to comprise two self-contained living units generally suitable for separate occupations but was ideal for use as a single dwelling.


The Upper Tier Tribunal's ruling in the Fiander and Brower case establishes principles for determining a "single dwelling" and differentiating between multiple dwellings. In cases involving attached properties and claims for multiple dwellings, privacy and security issues become crucial.

This ruling emphasises the significance of maintaining separation and ensuring privacy and security as qualifying factors for a property's suitability for use as a single dwelling.

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