From Ownership To Generosity: A Handbook For Property Gifting And Taxes In The UK
Transferring a property asset to a loved one as a gift can be a worthwhile act of generosity. However, the complex British taxation system means gifting a property has financial implications all parties must navigate diligently. This guide examines key considerations around gifting property in the UK – from legal processes and inheritance tax rules to valuation approaches and other taxes applying. With proper planning, home gifts can enrich recipients’ lives while limiting donor liabilities.
How Property Gifting Works Legally
To legally gift a property in the UK:
- A solicitor arranges the transfer of the property title deeds from donor to recipient.
- The title register gets updated at the HM Land Registry to show a change of ownership.
- If the property comes with a mortgage, the recipient must prove affordability to take this on or pay it off.
- Recipients become responsible for council tax, utility bills and property taxes following transfer.
- Buildings and contents insurance needs updating to reflect ownership change.
Robust legal management ensures the gift transfers securely.
Inheritance Tax on Gifted Property
Gifting a property may require paying inheritance tax if you die within 7 years:
- Gifts made 0-3 years before donor death incur full inheritance tax.
- Gifts 3-4 years prior are taxed on a sliding scale known as ‘taper relief’.
- Gifts 4-7 years before death attract reduced tax also on a tapered scale.
- No inheritance tax applies on gifts made over 7 years before the donor’s death.
- Lifetime gifting allowances let you give exempt amounts annually.
Consider gifting early to minimise tax, but consult professionals on liabilities.
Valuing Gifted Property Accurately
Valuation impacts the UK gift tax and so must be done carefully:
- Instruct chartered surveyor to assess the property’s true market value.
- Review the area’s recent sale prices for comparable homes.
- Reflect any deductions needed for repairs, maintenance or upgrades required.
- Factor in potential development or extension value not realised currently.
- Verify no recent insurance or undervaluation for council tax purposes.
An accurate assessment prevents HMRC from challenging valuation later.
Paying Capital Gains Tax on Gifted Assets
Gifting triggers capital gains tax needing payment:
- Tax is calculated on the property’s appreciation in the donor’s ownership.
- This applies to gifts both while living or in wills.
- Donor liable for tax in the year of the gift or in the deceased’s estate for will gifts.
- Lifetime gifting allowance lets you gift exempt amounts annually.
- Principal private residence relief exempts gifts of the home you occupy.
Expert tax planning maximises reliefs to reduce capital gains liabilities.
Managing Stamp Duty Land Tax on Transfers
When gifting, stamp duty land tax (SDLT) applies based on property value:
- SDLT of 1% paid on residential property gifts valued from £125k-£250k.
- SDLT of 3% applies from £250k-£925k.
- SDLT of 4% from £925k-£1.5m. Above £1.5m rates rise incrementally.
- An additional buyer SDLT surcharge of 3% was added for buy-to-let properties.
- SDLT bills sent to new owner, payable within 30 days of completion.
Budget for this additional transaction cost when gifting property.
Relieving Income Tax on Rental Income Gifts
If gifting out a buy-to-let property producing rental income:
- The recipient becomes responsible for declaring and paying income tax on rent.
- Make a clear gifting date in writing so income is correctly apportioned.
- Donor liable for tax on rental income received before the gift date.
- Recipient enjoys rental income tax-free up to £1k threshold.
Ensure paperwork evidences the date gifting took effect.
Granting Exemptions from Restrictive Lease Clauses
If gifting a leasehold property:
- Check for any restrictive ‘gifting clauses’ requiring landlord permission.
- Obtain formal consent statements from landlords where needed.
- Provide the landlord with reassurance of the new owner’s financial credibility.
- Be aware gifting may trigger lease renewal requiring valuation and fees.
- Landlords may request Deeds of Covenant confirming ongoing liability.
Seek expert leasehold advice to avoid legal issues jeopardising gifts.
Obtaining Mortgage Lender Approval
Where a gifted property comes with an outstanding mortgage:
- The recipient must prove affordability and secure approval to take over the loan.
- Additional lending fees may apply for reassigning the mortgage.
- Lenders may require a new property valuation for underwriting.
- If the recipient can’t secure mortgage approval, the donor may need to settle the loan.
- Expert broker guidance assists in navigating lender processes.
Advance liaison with lenders smoothens gifting with mortgages attached.
Removing Donor Interests Responsibly
To relinquish all interests, donors should also:
- Transfer or cancel any insurance policies, utility accounts and council tax in their name.
- Deregister from schemes like the Green Deal tied to property.
- Redirect any post relating to property ownership.
- Revoke any property Power of Attorney documents.
- Relinquish keys, security codes and remotes.
Tying up loose ends makes the gift clean and legally robust.
A Lasting Legacy of Support
More than just the gift, donors help set recipients up for success:
- Provide property handover guides – equipment instructions, tradespeople contacts etc.
- Assist with financial aspects – taxes, allowances, insurance etc.
- Offer to support future moving costs like removals.
- Share experiences to help them avoid pitfalls as new owners.
- Check-in regularly with maintenance guidance and practical assistance where possible.
Ongoing helps smooth recipients’ transition into successful ownership.
Gifting property to loved ones is rewarding but involves navigating legal, financial and tax complexities beforehand. With professional support, diligent information gathering, strong communication, patience and care, the process can enrich recipients’ lives for decades to come. For donors, seeing your gift become someone’s long-term home makes the responsibilities worthwhile. With prudence and generosity, property gifting in the UK creates lasting legacies.