The Chancellor George Osbourne has confirmed changes to the rules regarding Furnished Holiday Lets (FHL) in his 2011 budget. The announcement confirms proposals previously announced, primarily:
- Losses made on a holiday let can only be offset against income made on that same holiday let. The previous rules stated that losses could be offset against general income.
- FHL in both the UK and EEA will qualify (this is current practice but not legislation).
- Losses made in a qualifying FHL business either in the UK or EEA may only be set against income from the same FHL business.
- A property must be available to let for no less than 210 days a year. The current minimum requirement is 140 days a year. This will disqualify many summer holiday lets that take a six month let in the winter.
- The property must be let for 105 days in the year. The current minimum letting period is 70 days.
- There will be a ‘period of grace’ to allow businesses that don’t continue to meet the ‘actually let’ test for 1 or 2 years to elect to continue to qualify throughout that period, providing that there was genuine intention to meet the condition.
Those owners who will no longer qualify as a FHL under the new minimum letting periods will lose the generous Capital Gains Tax reliefs available on the sale or gift of a property. It is unclear until the 2011 Finance Act is in place, but there may be an opportunity for some owners struggling to meet the 105 letting days to claim the Capital Gains Tax reliefs during the 2 years ‘period of grace’.
In summary it is not all bad news with tax planning opportunities still available, particularly on purchase or sale of a property.