Albion Financial Advice > Explaining processes > Comprehensive Guide to Stamp Duty on Second Homes
Dariusz Karpowicz mortgage advice

Purchasing an additional residential property or acquiring a second home involves significant financial considerations, one of the most important being Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about stamp duty for second homes, ensuring you are well-prepared and informed before making your next property investment.

Understanding Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax imposed by the government on property purchases in England and Northern Ireland. This tax applies to both freehold and leasehold properties, whether you are buying outright or with a mortgage. For second homes, an additional surcharge is applied, which can significantly increase the overall cost of the property.

What Counts as a Second Home?

The concept of a second home can be ambiguous, so it’s crucial to understand what qualifies. A second home refers to any additional property you acquire beyond your primary residence. This can include:

  • Buy-to-let properties: Properties purchased for rental income.
  • Holiday homes: Properties used for vacations or leisure.
  • Properties purchased as family gifts: Homes bought for family members.

Understanding these distinctions helps ensure you are fully aware of your obligations when acquiring a second home.

Stamp Duty Rates for Second Homes

Stamp duty rates vary depending on the location of your property purchase. It’s important to note that different rates apply in England and Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, and non-UK residents face additional surcharges.

England and Northern Ireland

For second homes, the stamp duty rates are:

Up to £250,000 0% 3%
£250,001 to £925,000 5% 8%
£925,001 to £1.5 million 10% 13%
Over £1.5 million 12% 15%


In Scotland, the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) rates for second homes are:

Up to £145,000 0% 4%
£145,001 to £250,000 2% 6%
£250,001 to £325,000 5% 9%
£325,000 to £750,000 10% 14%
Over £750,000 12% 16%


In Wales, the Land Transaction Tax (LTT) rates for second homes are:

Up to £180,000 0% 4%
£180,001 up to £250,000 3.5% 7.5%
£250,001 to £400,000 5% 9%
£400,001 to £750,000 7.5% 11.5%
£750,001 to £1.5m 10% 14%
Over £1.5m 12% 16%

Additionally, non-UK residents are subject to a 2% surcharge on top of these rates, effective from April 1, 2021.

Inheriting a Second Property and Stamp Duty Implications

Inheritance can complicate stamp duty obligations. If you inherit a property, you may still face the additional stamp duty when purchasing another home.

Sole Ownership through Inheritance

If you inherit a property and become its sole owner, the additional stamp duty applies when buying another property.

Shared Inheritance

If you inherit a share of a property (50% or less) and purchase a new home within three years, you might be exempt from the additional 3% stamp duty. It’s crucial to understand these rules and seek professional guidance to navigate your specific circumstances.

Claiming Back Stamp Duty on a Second Home

There are scenarios where you can claim a refund on the additional stamp duty paid for a second home. If you sell your previous main home within three years of purchasing a new one, you can apply for a refund of the higher rate paid.

Common Scenario

If you buy a new home before selling your old one, resulting in the ownership of two properties, you initially pay the higher stamp duty rate. Once you sell your original home and the new property becomes your main residence, you can claim a refund on the additional rate within three years of the purchase.

Exemptions from Stamp Duty for Second Homes

While second home purchases generally incur higher stamp duty rates, some exemptions exist:

  • Properties valued below £40,000: No stamp duty is applied.
  • Caravans, mobile homes, and houseboats: Exempt regardless of the price.
  • Replacement of main residence: If you buy a new main home and sell your old one simultaneously, you are exempt from the additional rate.

Stamp Duty for First-Time Buyers

If you are a first-time buyer purchasing a buy-to-let property, standard stamp duty rates apply, as long as you own only one property. However, first-time buyer relief does not apply to buy-to-let properties.


You are liable for the second home rates if:

  • You have a shared ownership in another property.
  • You have inherited a property.
  • You purchase jointly with someone who already owns property.

Living in the Property You’re Buying

Replacing Your Main Residence

If the new property will replace your main residence, you are exempt from the additional stamp duty rate, provided the sale of your old main residence happens simultaneously.

Delayed Sale

If there’s a delay between purchasing your new main residence and selling your old one, you will initially pay the higher stamp duty rate. You may claim a refund if you sell your old home within three years.

Main Residence Determination

HMRC has specific criteria to determine your main residence:

  • Family time: Where the family spends the majority of their time.
  • Children’s education: The location of their school.
  • Official registrations: Where you are registered to vote and for healthcare.

Understanding how HMRC determines your main residence is crucial for compliance.

Owning Property Abroad

Owning property abroad doesn’t exempt you from the additional stamp duty on a second home in the UK. This includes holiday homes or timeshares overseas.

Stamp Duty for Spouses and Civil Partners

HMRC treats married couples or civil partners as a single entity. If one partner owns a buy-to-let property and the other buys another property, the additional stamp duty rate applies. This can impact financial decisions, particularly in cases of separation.

Buying Property for Children

If your name is on the deeds and you own another property, the 3% additional stamp duty applies. To avoid this:

  • Gift a deposit: Avoids additional stamp duty if not a joint owner.
  • Act as a guarantor: Guarantors aren’t considered property owners.
  • Family offset mortgage: Your savings act as a deposit without transferring ownership.

Leasehold Extensions and Stamp Duty

Stamp duty applies to lease extensions, but the threshold is typically £125,000. However, the second home rate starts at £40,000. If the lease extension is for your main residence, you are exempt from the additional rate.

Understanding and navigating stamp duty obligations for second homes can be complex. It’s advisable to seek professional advice to ensure compliance and make informed decisions. For personalized guidance, consult a mortgage adviser or legal professional.


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