Brief-case – your legal dilemmas solved

By Philippa Rudd, a partner with Cozens-Hardy solicitors in Norwich


We are negotiating for the purchase of a house with an asking price of £550,000. We hope the seller will accept £525,000. We want to keep our stamp duty bill as low as possible by paying separately for the contents remaining at the house. We intend to offer £500,000 for the house (the stamp duty rate will then be 3pc rather than 4pc) with £25,000 for the contents, resulting in a stamp duty bill of only £15,000. Our solicitor told us that he would not agree to this and we will have to pay stamp duty at 4pc on the full price of £525,000 resulting in a bill of £21,000. What is his problem?



Where a purchaser agrees to buy a property for a price that includes an amount attributed to chattels or moveables, that amount will not be liable to stamp duty. A purchaser is responsible for the accurate completion of the stamp duty form and the purchaser’s solicitor submits the form therefore if you are not honest, you and your solicitor could be involved in a criminal offence.

But surely if the sellers agree to our plan, then HM Revenue & Customs accept it?It does not matter that the parties to a transaction may agree an apportionment which is then documented in the contract. The apportionment will not be correct unless it was arrived at on a just and reasonable basis.

Philippa’s on 01603 625231.

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