HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has won the latest case resulting in denial of Business Property Relief (BPR) for a holiday let business.
This new case, Cox, will be of interest to those in the rural and farming sector who rent furnished holiday accommodation and involved the executors’ claim for BPR regarding a number of properties within Crail House, Fife, Scotland. The case centred on the provision of additional services, much like the previous cases of Graham (2018) and Vigne (2017).
In this case, three flats within Crail House were used exclusively for the purposes of holiday accommodation, with a fourth being the owner’s principal private residence. As the owner was based on site, he was able to provide additional services to guests over and above the simple letting of the properties. The executors of the estate claimed BPR on the value of the property arguing that this was a business operation and, as such, eligible for relief. HMRC rejected the claim with the case subsequently coming before the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).
Evidence cited many additional activities undertaken by the owner, including the provision of books, DVDs, information leaflets and sporting equipment, childminding services, transportation, and provision of breakfast and supper to guests. The grounds of the property were also used for a wedding and as a venue for the Crail Festival with free attendance provided for guests staying in the property.
The judgement in favour of HMRC found, however, that no services were provided on a regular basis and especially not in the two years preceding the death of the owner, the relevant period for the relief. The FTT judgement also found that the types of services provided were insufficient to tip the balance in favour of this being a non-investment business. Although the appellant had made comparisons to earlier, similar cases, the Tribunal concluded that in Graham particularly the additional services provided were exceptional and went far beyond those provided at Crail House.
Jenny Healy, a Director and a member of Saffery’ Landed Estates and Rural Business Group, said:
“This case shows yet again that HMRC will likely be successful in rejecting claims for BPR on holiday let businesses. The judgement makes clear that for most holiday let businesses the provision of additional services will be seen as incidental to the main investment activity undertaken. In order for a holiday let business to make a successful claim, the additional services must be considered exceptional, that is more akin to that of a hotel than that of a standard self-catering property.”