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Transfer of Property

The transfer of property it is legally known as a transfer of equity. This is different to the sale of a property where the entire ownership in relation to the property is changed. With a transfer of equity, at least one of the current owners remains on the title and one or more other parties are added or removed. 


What is a transfer of equity?


Equity is the term that is used to described the percentage of the property that you own. It is the value of the property minus any liabilities, for example, outstanding mortgages. 


A transfer of equity is the legal process to add or remove a person from the title deeds of the property. This process does not involve a sale and at least one of the original owners stays the same. There can be various reasons that this happens:

 

  • A relationship has ended and the marital assets need to be divided between the separating couple, including the family home. In this case the couple could transfer ownership that was in their joint names into just one of their names. 
  • Alternatively, it can be used in a new relationship to add a partner onto the deeds.
  • Friends or siblings that have purchased a property together, where at some point one wishes to be released from the ownership of the property.
  • The property can also be transferred to children or other family members. This can be for tax purposes.


How does the process work?


Where the parties are all in agreement it is a relatively simple process. The transferor is all the original owners and they will transfer the property to the transferee. In order to perform a transfer of equity, the current owners will need the official title for the property that will details and restrictions or mortgages in relation to the property. HM Land Registry has to be notified where the registered owners of a property are changed. This is done by completing the relevant form depending on whether the whole or part of the registered title is transferred. 


If property is being transferred to a child under the age of 18 then it will be necessary to set up a trust deed that will appoint a trustee to hold the property for them until they are 18 years old and then the equity would be transferred to the child.


Does it matter if there is a mortgage on the property?


If the property has an outstanding mortgage, the lender will need to give their consent before the transfer of equity occurs. This is because the owners that remain at the end of the transfer (or are added) will all be equally liable for the mortgage and any owner being removed from the deeds will be released from all liabilities. The mortgage provider will want to run checks to ensure that the owners will be able to maintain the mortgage payments before they agree to the transfer. 


It may be that the owners want to transfer the property and keep their existing mortgage or they may wish to move to a different mortgage provider. Where the mortgage provider does not agree to the transfer then the owns will need to repay the mortgage before the transfer can happen- either by paying it off in full or remortgaging with a different provider to cover the outstanding amount. 


Tax issues


Stamp duty implications


Where the transfer of equity is a gift without any form of payment (known as consideration) then stamp duty land tax will not normally apply. However, where there is a mortgage and joint owners decide that ownership is passing to just one of them, then the mortgage will also be the sole responsibility of this person. Stamp duty is owed on the total chargeable consideration if it exceeds the threshold on one or both of the following:

 

  • Any cash payment made by one to the other owner for their share. 
  • The proportion of outstanding mortgage that belongs to the share of the property being transferred, which is above the relevant threshold. 

There are various situations where stamp duty will not be owed, for example:

  • If the transfer is part of a divorce settlement and there is no need to notify HMRC about the transfer even if the value is more than the stamp duty threshold. 
  • Where the property is transferred under a will, even if there is an outstanding mortgage, so long as no other consideration is given.
  • If the transfer is a gift with no outstanding mortgage.


Capital gains tax


Any transfer between a spouse or civil partner will not incur capital gains tax. Transfers to a charity are also exempt. However, any other transfer (including to your own children) is subject to capital gains tax. Any amount below the threshold (currently £12,300) is exempt, but there is then a charge of either 18% or 28% depending on whether you are a basic or higher rate taxpayer you are and the value of the transfer. 


Inheritance tax


A spouse can pass a home to their husband or wife and there is no inheritance tax due. Where you leave your home to other people, then there can be inheritance tax implications depending on who you leave it to and the value of your estate. The threshold is currently £325,000 but increases to £500,000 where the home is left to children and this also applies where the estate is worth more than £2 million.


If you live for another seven years after passing on your home to someone else, then there is usually no inheritance tax to pay. If you die within the seven-year period, then it is regarded as a gift and inheritance tax will be charged at 40% on gift within the three years before you die and then there is tapered relief between three to seven years.

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.

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