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Beware ... HMRC are plumbing the depths to flush out what they claim is a shoal of unwitting landlords and room letters, who have not cut the Don - sorry - Chancellor in on the deal.
Always leading the fleet, we at Springfords were already charting these waters quite some time ago. You need only refer to our newsletter of last May for the low down on getting out of your depth with tax and the tenant. Following our tack, the papers picked up on what they call a Revenue campaign against rogue landlords, with plans to send 40,000 letters to buy-to-let investors it suspects of avoiding tax.
It all started like this. While having a “comfort break” on the forecastle, George, or someone else from the HM(S) Treasury, had a spurt of inspiration. “Bother me!” they exclaimed, or something like that. “There are only half a million registered landlords, but one and a half million properties in rental! There must be a million undeclared landlords out there! Shiver me timbers – let’s get at them!”
Now, it was windy, and our hearing isn’t what it was, but we can all see where this is going; as the Revenue sail on, full steam ahead into barely charted waters, with all the competence of a Costa Concordia captain. Unfortunately, it might just be people like us that their bow wave engulfs, as they seek to flush out the genuinely unscrupulous slum landlords, who care nought for conditions and would just as soon rent out their garden sheds and write ‘nothing to declare’ on their tax returns.
Those of us who may have entered into an informal agreement with a friend, benefiting from the shared burden of household costs for all the most benign of reasons, may feel the full fury of a tax burden broadside. Or you may have simply started planning ahead with a buy to let property for the days when a rental income might replace the daily grind, but you’ll find you have to re-chart your course, and make sure you’re not sailing into equally rocky straights.
A quick word with our personal tax team should put you right, right away.
The alternatives are, as can be expected, a large fine or criminal prosecution if actual property pirates fail to make contact to arrange their affairs. For those who are genuinely disingenuous about their rental income, or indeed any income, they will need to come clean, or face being sunk without trace.