Stamp Duty Land Tax: Understanding the 2% Non-Resident Surcharge

We may have bid adieu to the much-reprieved SDLT holiday on the 30 June 2021, however, buyers will still benefit from reduced rates until the 30 September 2021, with a nil rate band of £250,000, and of course we welcome back first-time buyer relief.

Here, we briefly explore the 2% Non-Resident Surcharge (NRS) which was introduced from the 1 April 2021.

What is NRS?

NRS is 2% of the purchase price and only applies to the purchase of a dwelling or dwellings and turns on residence, not nationality.

You will have most likely noticed the introduction of three new questions on the SDLT1 Forms, which are compulsory for residential transactions:

  • Are any of the purchasers non-UK resident?
  • Are any of the purchasers a UK resident close company controlled directly or indirectly by a non-UK resident?
  • Are you claiming Crown Employment Benefit? (If you are non-UK resident due to performing duties for the purposes of your employment under the Crown, NRS relief is available. This relief is also extended to the spouse or civil partner of a Crown servant, provided they are not separated).

Are you a non-resident?

For NRS purposes, a non-resident is a non-UK resident. The UK includes Great Britain (England, Wales & Scotland) and Northern Ireland.

An individual is a UK resident for the purposes of NRS if they have been present in the UK at least 183 days or more in the 12 months before the completion date of the purchase. The 183 days do not have to be continuous, but those 183 days must all fall within 365 consecutive days. If one is present in the UK at the end of a day (midnight), then that day counts.

UK resident close company controlled by non-UK resident

A company is non-resident if either of the below conditions are met on the completion date:

  • Not UK resident for Corporation Tax purposes.
  • A close company which meets the non-UK control test and is not an excluded company.

Most private companies are close companies, and the meaning of one can be found here, where the non-UK control test is also explained.

If any participator in the company who has control, or to whom control is attributed, has not been resident in the UK on at least 183 midnights in the 365 days preceding the completion date, then the company is non-resident.

Control is defined in the Corporation Tax Act 2010 (s. 448, 450 & 451) as an individual who exercises, is able to exercise or is entitled to acquire direct or indirect control over the company’s affairs (more than 50%). Under s.451, the individual’s rights and powers may be attributed to an ‘associate’, which is defined in s.448. For NRS purposes, however, there are changes to the normal attribution rules:

  • There is no attribution between business partners, or between spouses or civil partners, as there usually is.
  • A de minimis rule prevents attribution of rights and powers in a company where the associate holds less than 5%.

Reclaims for Individuals

Individuals have a respite over corporate bodies in that they may be able to reclaim NRS if they become UK resident after paying the surcharge on completion.  Therefore, if the individual can show 183 days UK residence within the following 365 days after completion, NRS may be reclaimed by submitting an amended return during a 2-year period from the completion date.

However, if the purchasers are joint purchasers, and just one of them is non-resident, NRS is payable. The exemption to this is where the purchasers are married or civil partners and living together for tax purposes – in this case, if one of the individuals is UK resident but the other is not, NRS is not payable. Please note, the rules differ for trustees of a settlement.

SDLT and the NRS rules are a complicated area of tax, therefore, please seek advice from a tax specialist if you are unsure and require assistance.

If you would like to discuss this or any other property law related query, please do not hesitate to contact our team here at Aston Bond.

Young Practitioner of the Year Award Win!

Last week we celebrated the amazing news that our very own Head of Wills & Probate, Jade Gani, won the prestigious Young Practitioner of the Year Award at the British Wills and Probate Awards. 

The awards brochure confirmed that this award is only grant to “an exceptional individual who has shown a high level of involvement and development” within the Wills & Probate sector. They classified “young” as being under the age of 35. They further confirmed that the winner had to demonstrate:-

  • Exceptional Client service;
  • High levels of skill and technical ability;
  • A flair for innovation and championing best practice; and
  • Initiative in challenging situations.

We couldn’t be more proud that, in perhaps the most challenging year for the Wills & Probate sector to date, one of our very own shone above the rest to the judges. We decided to catch up with Jade and find out how she feels following her iconic win.

How did you feel winning the awards?

“Honestly, just being shortlisted was such a massive privilege. My team put me forward for the Award and I couldn’t be more grateful. I am normally a terrible loser when it comes to fun & games because I am sometimes too competitive, however, I kept telling myself over and over on the night that either of my fellow shortlisters, Sarah or Andrew, were very tough competition and definitely worthy winners in their own right. So when the result came in I was genuinely astonished, and then very excited!

It is also a bit of a relief because my wonderful colleagues had gone to such an effort to create an amazing socially-distanced celebration type office party for me, complete with an epic balloon arch, and all the effort seemed so much more worthwhile with the win! After an extremely tough year supporting my clients and colleagues alike, it felt incredible to get the chance to celebrate something really wonderful.”

What does it mean to you to win this award?

“It is hard to put into words. It is definitely the highlight of my career so far; particularly because I am the girl who comes from the ‘rough’ part of town and we never had much money; I can’t tell you the amount of times I was effectively left without a home. During university I also became extremely poorly with Fibromyalgia and Tietze’s syndrome which meant I almost didn’t graduate. Throughout all that, I had my fair share of teachers, employers, friends and family who told me that I would never become a lawyer, never mind succeed as one! 

My illnesses affected my grades at law school, and that meant a lot of rejection as a young lawyer. But Aston Bond saw something in me and gave me a chance by running my own department; it is nice to do them proud with this award. It is also sometimes a misconception that in order to get the best service, best advice and best lawyers that you have to use a city firm and pay city prices – we are a small but mighty high street firm that can clearly hold its own!” 

What is it you’ve been doing this past year and what does the next year hold in store?

“Well, unfortunately with the rise in deaths due to COVID-19 we have been exceptionally busy supporting our Clients. This has been both assisting families following a bereavement as well as helping very poorly Clients to get the peace of mind they need to focus on getting well again. There have also been lots of changes in the Probate sector, such as news forms, online portals, Court delays, changes to legislation and banks throwing caution to the wind! It has been quite the job to keep up! We have even been providing free Wills to all NHS & Thames Hospice staff, as a small token of our thanks for the phenomenal work they have done, and continue to do, throughout the pandemic.

As for next year, well, we continue to grow as a department and think of new ways we can give back to the wider community as a whole. I can’t say too much just yet, but myself, Stephen (CEO) and Duncan (Director), have been working hard on a new community interest project that has charitable ideals at its heart and which we hope will go live with in the early New Year – so watch this space! It is an extremely exciting labour of love and I hope the project will be a massive success for many years to come.” 

You can read more about all the British Wills & Probate Awards winners and highly commended firms and providers here: 

If you would like to know more about Jade and the team in the Private Client department, or you would like to discuss your personal affairs with them, then please do not hesitate to get in touch, either by email: or telephone: 01753 486777.


Changes to Use Classes

From 1 September 2020, there has been a change in the Use Classes in England by virtue of The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020. 

These Regulations significantly changed the previous Use Classes by revoking a number of Use Classes and introducing the following new Use Classes:

  1. Class E – Commercial, Business and Service
  2. Class F – Local Community and Learning – split into:
    1. F1 – Learning and non-residential institutions
    2. F2 – Local community

Below we summarise some of the changes:

Use Use Class Pre-1 September 2020 Current Use Class
Shops A1 E or F2
Financial and professional services A2 E
Restaurants and cafes A3 E
Drinking establishments (e.g. pubs) A4 Sui Generis
Hot foot takeaways A5 Sui Generis
Business – Offices B1 E
Business – Research and development of products or processes B1 E
Business – Industrial processes B1 E
Non-residential institutions D1 The uses have been split out within E and F1
Assembly and leisure D2 The uses have been split out within E and F2 and some uses now falling within Sui Generis


It will be important to take into account these recent changes when purchasing new commercial premises or granting new leases.

Further details on the current Use Classes since 1 September 2020 can be found here:-

What is a Legionella Risk Assessment?

A Legionella Risk Assessment assesses the potential risks of the spread of Legionella bacteria within properties. 

The Legionella bacteria causes a pneumonia like illness known as Legionnaires’ disease and can contaminate and thrive in water systems, such as the hot and cold-water systems within properties. 

Under health and safety law, landlords have a duty to ensure their tenants are not exposed to any health and safety risks. This includes exposure to Legionella bacteria and landlords should ensure they assess the risk of exposure within their properties.

Whilst large and complex water systems may require routine testing, this is often not considered necessary for simple domestic water systems found in most residential properties.

Usually a landlord can comply with this duty by carrying out a Legionella Risk Assessment themselves, without needing to employ a consultant to carry out a risk assessment for them. Landlords should ensure that their Legionella Risk Assessment is kept up to date and is periodically reviewed. 

The Importance of LPA’s for Couples

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s) allow you to appoint people you trust to act as your Attorneys so that they can assist you in managing your assets, and/or help with your health care decisions should you lose capacity. There are two types of LPA: one for Finance & Property; and one for Health & Welfare. 

However, many people incorrectly assume that if they are married or in a civil partnership that they will not require LPA’s as their spouse or civil partner will automatically have the right to deal with their assets and liabilities should they not be able to themselves.  Here we will explain why this is not always the case and highlight the limitations your partner may experience when there is no LPA in place.


Nobody has authority to deal with your finances, such as your bank accounts, properties and pensions, other than you.  Therefore if you were to become unwell and need to go into hospital or care, your partner will not have the authority to automatically be able to help you manage your finances but instead may need to go down a long and lengthy process to obtain a court order.   As a separate court order is required for each action they wish to help you with, not having an LPA in place can therefore result in a time consuming and costly ordeal for those closest to you. 

Whilst this may be somewhat expected for sole assets, what many people do not realise is that losing capacity without having an LPA in place can also affect joint assets.  Although your partner may have authority to manage your accounts in which they are a joint account holder whilst you both have capacity, once a bank has been notified that you have lost capacity they may sometimes freeze the account until they are presented with an LPA on your behalf.


It is also often mistakenly assumed that your partner will have the right to make health care decisions on your behalf as they are your next of kin.  However, whilst doctors are likely to consult with your next of kin, they do not have any authority or right to make health care decisions on your behalf and all decisions will therefore ultimately be at the discretion of your doctors.  Because of this, it can often be a very distressing experience for those closest to you where matters such as life sustaining treatment arise, as your next of kin may have differing opinions to that of the medical professional, but it is the opinion of the doctors that will override where there is no LPA in place.

If you would like more information on LPA’s please see our website via the following link: .  Alternatively if you would like to book an appointment for a free initial consultation with one of our solicitors to discuss LPA’s further then please do not hesitate to contact 

Stamp Duty Land Tax Update July 2020

On 8 June 2020, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced his mini budget that included a temporary raise in the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) threshold.

Previously, the threshold for paying SDLT was £125,000, although first time buyers benefited from a higher threshold of £300,000.

Under the new measures, the threshold is raised to £500,000. This means that anyone buying a property will not pay any SDLT on the first £500,000 of the purchase price/transfer value. 

This temporary change came into effect immediately and will remain in effect until 31 March 2021.

During this period, SDLT liability will be calculated as follows:

Property price/transfer value SDLT rate
Up to £500,000 Zero
£500,0001 to £925,000 5%
£925,001 to £1,500,000 10%
Above £1,500,00 12%


The above rates apply to first time buyers and those replacing their main residence.

Whilst anyone purchasing an additional property will still benefit from the increased SDLT threshold, the 3% high rate will still apply on the revised standard rates.

This means the rates for anyone purchasing additional properties are:

Property price/transfer value SDLT rate
Up to £500,000 3%
£500,0001 to £925,000 8%
£925,001 to £1,500,000 13%
Above £1,500,00 15%

Code of Practice for commercial property relationships during the Covid-19 pandemic

On 19 June 2020, the government published the ‘Code of Practice for commercial property relationships during the Covid-19 pandemic’.

Whilst the Code is voluntary, it aims to support parties in negotiating affordable rental agreements and tries to promote best practice amongst landlords and tenants.

The Code applies to all commercial leases held by businesses which have been seriously negatively impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. 

It is important to note that a tenant’s legal obligation to pay rent and comply with tenant covenants in the lease remain, unless an agreement is reached with the landlord. If a tenant can pay their rent in full, it is clear that they should continue to do so.

However, where a tenant is unable make full payments of rent, the Code provides some guidance of how a landlord and tenant should approach this situation.

The Code encourages collaboration between the landlord and the tenant, recognising that it is in both their interests for the tenant’s business to continue trading from the property during a recovery period.

A tenant who cannot afford to pay their rent is encouraged to approach their landlord to seek a temporary agreement/concession to assist them whilst they transition through a recovery period. The Code recognises that the relationship between each landlord and tenant is different, but states that each party should act in good faith, reasonably and flexibly. This can include a tenant being transparent about why they need a concession, including providing financial information where necessary, and a landlord ensuring they clearly explain the reasons for any refusal.

Possible arrangements suggested by the Code include:

  1. A rent-free period for a set period of time;
  2. A reduced rent for a set period of time;
  3. A deferral of the whole or part of the rent for a set number of rent payment periods;
  4. All or part of the rent to be paid as a proportion of the turnover of the site, incorporating any period during which the site was closed;
  5. Landlords drawing from rent deposits on the understanding that they do not need to be topped up by the tenant until it is realistic and reasonable to do so;
  6. Landlord’s waiving contractual default interest on unpaid rents; and/or
  7. Rents being paid in arrears rather than in advance to make payment plans more affordable.

The Code also considers service charge and suggests that, where there is a known net reduction in overall service charge due to the lack of use of a property, this reduction should be passed on to the tenant as soon as possible in order to assist with cash flow.

It is clear that the government are encouraging cooperation and collaboration between landlords and tenants in order to help as many businesses as possible survive the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and to ensure properties remain occupied.

Child Arrangements Since the Relaxation of Lockdown Rules

Even though lockdown rules have now been relaxed parents must carefully consider how they approach spending time with their children.

In practice the rule is ‘where possible that Child Arrangements Orders should be complied with but parents must act sensibly’.   In deciding the best way forward parents must take into account their children’s health, the risk of infection in the area where they reside, whether an individual in one of the households is a vulnerable adult.  If the parent with whom the children resides is a vulnerable adult or if a parent is working for the NHS or in an environment where they are at risk of infection, the parents may decide it is safer for the children to have contact via facetime or zoom until the pandemic is over.  The child’s safety is paramount.

It is very important at all times that parents put their children first and not their own personal wishes.

If any parent has any concerns about having coronavirus symptoms, the NHS operates an online coronavirus checker.  Anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for 7 days.  Anyone who lives with a symptomatic person must self- isolate for 14 days.   If parties have major concerns over coronavirus they should dial 999 and seek assistance whether this relates to their children or themselves.

If any parents have concerns over Child Arrangements our Senior Family Solicitor Lynette A’Court will be happy to assist. She may be contacted on 07754662438.

Changes to Building Regulations Approved Document B (Fire Safety)

On 26 May 2020, the government announced amendments to Building Regulations Approved Document B (Fire Safety). These amendments affect blocks of flats and form part of the government’s response to the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Under present regulations, the trigger height for when sprinklers are required in a block of flats is 30 metres. However, from 26 November 2020 sprinkler systems will be required to be installed where a building is 11 metres or taller. These sprinklers should be provided within the individual flats.

The updated amendments also provide a new provision for wayfinding signage for the fire service. The government have stated that each floor in a block of flats more than 11 metres above ground level should have floor identification signs and flat indicator signs provided.  Such signs should be located on every landing of a protected stairway and every protected corridor/lobby in a format and at a height that makes them easily visible.

The full amendments can be found at:

Children and Home-Schooling During Lockdown

During the current lockdown children’s schooling can be a major worry and concern for some parents. The government guidelines are that during lockdown there should be flexibility between parents over schooling even where a Child Arrangements Order is in place. Parents should be looking at what is in the best interest of the children. The parents should decide how the children will spend their day and in particular how their school work should take place during this unsettling time. Some parents decide that they should not depart from the Child Arrangements Order which is currently in place. However they should not do this if there are going to be problems over their children’s schooling.  They must put their children’s schooling first. In the event that parents cannot reach an agreement and as a result the children are not receiving their schooling at home an application may be made to the Family Court for a Specific Issue Order to deal with this problem. However such an application must be made as a last resort. Once papers are issued at Court a date will be fixed and a District Judge will usually order a remote court hearing. This is where the hearing is conducted by telephone so parties do not have to attend Court but all parties are connected to the same telephone conference call.   The District Judge will then introduce his or herself and explain that the conference call must not be recorded and then the case will proceed.

In the event that you are having problems over your children’s schooling or indeed any other problems relating to children’s arrangements please do not hesitate to telephone Lynette A’Court our Senior Family Solicitor on 07754662438 who will be able to assist you.