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5% VAT scheme for renovating a residential property empty for more than 2years

(8 Posts)
SASASI Wed 17-Jun-15 15:39:16

As above - anyone any knowledge or advice?

We bought the property last year & it had been vacant 5 years previous. But getting this confirmed in writing is proving difficult ! Seems no one (ie sellers solicitor, utility providers) wants to put it on paper, citing data protection etc.

5% vat is a great savings on the standard 20% & when we know we are entitled to the scheme we want to avail of it.

Was an elderly couples property sold by their children.

Any advice?

lalalonglegs Wed 17-Jun-15 16:07:25

Try the council's council tax office, they might be able to confirm it was empty. I had to do the other way round (prove a property was occupied for a certain period) and they provided a letter. As a LA, you could, in extremis, put in a Freedom of Information request to ask them to confirm this if a polite request doesn't work. A quick google says that there were proposals to make utility companies subject to the FoI Act too so might be worth investigating that angle too.

Hiahia Thu 18-Jun-15 01:18:30

We've done this. Was a pain to get enough documents because everyone is so useless with data protection!

Get letters from (several) neighbours saying that to the best of their knowledge, property was empty since xx.
Go on 'who lives at this address' type websites, get a report done, there should be charts about electoral roll. If no one has been registered, that helps.

You don't need absolute proof, just a beefed up enough case. Our builder received his first reimbursement of the 15% recently, that was nice.

Ps if your works don't start for a while you might get the 2 years within your ownership anyway? Unless you've started living there? If not though, don't forget you can get reduced council tax and utility bills {especially water) for an unoccupied house, that will help your case too.

Good luck.

SASASI Thu 18-Jun-15 21:13:13

Thank you both for the replies.

I'm in NI & we pay rates rather than council tax & because the build is technically liveable (!!!!!) due to being enclosed they have always been paid.

One neighbour objected to our plans & other is new but I could try surrounding neighbours, thanks for that idea.

Electoral roll useless, they only keep registered voters details not un-registered & I was like well by default you can give me a letter saying no one registered there since...blah blah but apparently not, think I just got a bored worker at end of phone so I might try that line again.

So did you have to pay the full whack of 20% then you are slowly getting the 15% back? We might end up project managing & bringing different trades in ourselves so that will be fun lol

Amelle Fri 19-Jun-15 20:44:55

We did this. Your council may have an empty homes officer (or alternatively the council tax dept) who should be able to verify that the property has been empty for that length of time and / or that no council tax has been paid for that period. The empty homes officer in our borough wrote a letter to say it had been empty for that period and that the 5% exemption applied. It only applies to certain renovations on properties - there is HMRC guidance I believe that explains it which you should be able to find via Google. For the relavent tradespeople you give them a copy of that letter before they carry out the work and they can then apply the reduced VAT.

Amelle Fri 19-Jun-15 20:48:07

Think it's para 8

Hiahia Mon 22-Jun-15 17:37:08


back at home so had more time to talk about this.

We only realised we could claim that VAT relief mid-project! Hence why we had paid 20% on the first few invoices. Builder had to reimburse us for these. But definitely the builder has to pay 20% on all things, then get a refund every quarter from HMRC. Might be tricky for his cash flow if it is massive sums, in which case, you could pay him the full 20% and he reimburses you ever quarter as he gets himself reimbursed by HMRC.

We had a VAT consultant help us on this and prepare a 'dossier' for the builder to present to HMRC. Might be worth it trying to find somebody like this local to you! We paid him a few hundred pounds, very worth it you can imagine.

the dossier included (specific to our case - empty before our ownership and then for more than 2 years between us taking possession and the start of the works anyway):
- letter from our solicitor confirming the date we had taken ownership of property and that it was empty at the time
- council tax for the - separate - place where we lived in when the house was also in our possession (nobody should really pay 2 council taxes full whack at the same time, so that kind of proves that at least WE weren't living in the empty property)
- letters from 3 neighbours

SASASI Mon 22-Jun-15 22:02:27

Thanks very much for the info folks.

I fired off a few emails just to check what people told me on the phone & have a perfect letter from electoral office. Can get a letter from solicitor no problem, family friend. Great advice!!

We are doing the work ourselves so more work for us but should be worth it.

Now just to get the work done within budget !!

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