Sovereign assists many of its clients with the purchase and ownership of UK property assets. We advise on tax and structuring and can manage the transaction process and financing arrangements. With our knowledge of UK property ownership laws and regulations, along with our tax planning expertise, we can help clients to reduce any potential exposure.

Many people who own or intend to own property in the UK will not be fully conversant with UK legal procedures or taxes and may not fully recognise the longer-term potential exposures to capital gains tax (CGT) or inheritance tax (IHT). Issues that potential owners need to consider include:

  • The type of property asset?
  • The purpose of the property?
  • The occupier of the property?
  • The legal status of the owner?

In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, the UK government introduced a raft of anti-avoidance measures targeting UK residential property that was owned or acquired by non-natural persons (NNPs), whether UK-resident or not. These include higher rates of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) and an Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED), as well as increased exposure to CGT and IHT.

These anti-avoidance measures have severely limited tax planning options in respect of UK residential property. Commercial property has been largely unaffected by the new measures. If the property is part residential and part commercial, only the residential part will be subject to the new measures.

However, it is still possible to use structures to mitigate UK tax where appropriate. Sovereign has devised a number of fully compliant solutions to minimise UK tax exposure on holding or acquiring UK property, whether it is for personal use, investment or development purposes. These involve the use of trusts, UK and non-UK companies, as well as Qualifying Non-UK Pension Schemes (QNUPS).

Sovereign UK has long experience in structuring UK real estate ownership and has built particularly close relationships, over many years, with lending institutions, property sourcing experts and law firms. We appreciate that each purchaser will present a unique set of circumstances and we will work to balance their residence requirements with their estate planning needs and to structure ownership of property assets to the investor’s advantage.

Register of Overseas Entities (ROE)

The Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) was established on 1 August 2022 under the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022. The ROE is held by Companies House and requires overseas entities – a company or a trust – that own land or property in the UK to declare their beneficial owners and/or managing officers.

It applies to overseas entities who bought property or land on or after 1 January 1999 in England and Wales or 8 December 2014 in Scotland. These are the dates when the land registries in these jurisdictions first required overseas companies to identify where they were set up when buying property. Overseas entities only need to register property or land bought in Northern Ireland on or after 1 August 2022.

Overseas entities that want to buy, sell or transfer property or land in the UK, must register with Companies House and disclose their registrable beneficial owners or managing officers. Overseas entities that already own or lease land or property in the UK were also required to register with Companies House and disclose their registrable beneficial owners or managing officers by 31 January 2023.

Overseas entities that fail to register are committing a criminal offence. Any officers of the entity who are responsible for committing the offence can be prosecuted too. It is also a criminal offence to deliver false or deceptive information to Companies House.

There are severe financial penalties for non-compliance, as well as restrictions on buying, selling, transferring, leasing or charging land or property in the UK.
Any filings on the ROE must be verified by an authorised agent of Companies House. Sovereign Corporate & Trustee Services Ltd is an authorised agent of Companies House and can verify the requisite filings.

Mortgage Finance, Will Provisioning and Life Insurance

There are an increasing number of specialist private lenders that provide mortgages on a case-by-case basis to non-UK residents, non-UK nationals and non-UK domiciles who are looking to buy property in the UK. The individual approach taken by private lenders can be an advantage for those with complex incomes, such as income in a foreign currency or based around stocks and shares or other investments.

Any investment in UK property will require the owner to make a UK will to address succession issues. Owners will also need to obtain suitable Life Insurance to cover any outstanding mortgage finance or to fund any future liability to UK IHT to prevent heirs from being forced to sell the property.

Get in Touch

Please contact us if you have any questions or queries and your local representative will be in touch with you as soon as possible.