Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) used to be relatively straight forward for residential property. However, it has become increasingly complicated, particularly with the introduction from 1 April 2016 of the higher rates of stamp duty land tax for additional properties: referred to by HMRC as HRAD, but commonly called the 3% surcharge. It can apply not only to second homes, but also sometimes to a property being bought as an only or main residence for the buyer.

As a result, we receive a large number of enquiries from clients keen to understand how this applies to their circumstances. In response we have produced a series of guides on the 3% surcharge to SDLT that can be downloaded on this page.

Other complications with residential property transactions we are familiar with include:

  • The special issues with properties bought by companies such as the flat rate of 15% and the reliefs available
  • The special treatment of social landlords such as housing associations
  • Staircasing transactions for shared ownership leases
  • Lease extensions and enfranchisements
  • Prudential structures where a plot is bought with a separate contract for carrying out the building work after the land is transferred.

There are other complex aspects which tend to apply to commercial properties and issues such as:

  • Transactions involving development of land
  • Overage payments
  • Mixed property to which the lower non-residential rates of tax might apply including farms and developments which include retail, office and residential uses.
  • Sale and leaseback transactions
  • Commercial leases including those with rent reviews and turnover rents
  • Surrender and regrant of leases
  • Variation of leases
  • Charities or social landlords acquiring property
  • Group relief for transactions between companies
  • Property belonging to a partnership, going into a partnership and coming out of a partnership

Meet our SDLT expert

John is an experienced real estate lawyer, specialising in the stamp duty land tax implications of property transactions.

He has considerable experience of dealing with SDLT issues - particularly the 3% surcharge for additional residential properties.  His expertise in this area is recognised by both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500.  He is a regular commentator in the media and contributor to the Zoopla web page on the 3% surcharge here, which explains the outline of the surcharge and has links to other resources such as the legislation and HMRC guidance.  

Read John's full biography here.

Need more advice?

As a full service law firm, we take pride in being able to help our clients with their property matters whether it is straight forward conveyancing or a more complex property transaction. We draw on expertise from across the firm to ensure that we are able to provide solutions to your conveyancing challenges.

We have a strong and growing development and construction team, and our expertise in planning law has developed. We also deal with transactions involving estates and farms.

Our conveyancing team is accredited by the Law Society and provides expert advice to national and international clients, visit our Residential Property page for more info.

Residential Property Team

For leasehold reform and related landlord and tenant matters contact:

If you are buying a property with someone else you may need to consider a declaration of trust or cohabitation agreement; for more information visit our Family Law page.

For social housing issues see the information here.

If you are moving to the UK from abroad and need tax planning advice, we have several experts who are here to help, please contact Mark Spash or Doug Smith for more information.

Also contact Doug Smith for guidance on the Annual Tax for Enveloped Dwellings (of relevance where a company owns a residential property worth £500,000 or more).

If you are purchasing a property and need to update or create a Will, visit our Wills, Probate, Taxes and Trusts page

For charities, click here.

Click here, for dealing with potential disputes involving property. 

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Related Knowledge & Resources

Autumn Budget: Did the Chancellor meet our SDLT predictions?


John Shallcross, our SDLT expert, gives his reactions to Monday’s budget. Did the Chancellor match our predictions?

"Joint Borrower Sole Proprietor" mortgages and living together agreements

Simon Burge, a family law expert, takes a look at the use of a "living together agreement" in connection with a joint borrower mortgage for an unmarried couple, where only one of them is to own the property.

SDLT revenue figures' review

Recent figures show the level of receipts from Stamp Duty Land Tax. Our SDLT expert John Shallcross takes a look in more detail.

What should we expect from the Budget for the higher rates of stamp duty land tax (the 3% surcharge)? Will it increase to 5%?

We examine the figures published for the end of the latest tax year that far exceeded the predicted revenue when SDLT was introduced and will it increase in this month's budget?

Stamp Duty Land Tax 3% surcharge ‘Replacement of only or main residence’ and the three-year rules

The higher rates of SDLT are intended to apply to purchases of additional residential properties, such as second homes and buy to let properties.