Whitehall drive

Poor sanitation facilities.

An interesting case highlighting the importance of due diligence when it comes to assessing the property as habitable or otherwise. This property suffered from inadequate sanitation facilities, yet the buyer was bound to pay £6000 in stamp duty.

Property facts.

  • £120,000
  • £6000 stamp duty
  • 3 bedrooms
  • 1 bathroom
  • Downstairs lavatory
  • Reasonable condition

Case background.

Before the property was acquired, it had suffered from vandalism. The bathroom on the second floor had its floor tiles shattered by a heavy object, and the bathroom panel was forcibly removed, making the facilities unusable. In the downstairs bathroom, there was water damage from a poorly sealed plumbing connection that caused greywater to leak and created dampness.

In addition, the staircase balustrade was damaged with two missing spindles, presenting a risk of falling from height. There were also other problems with the exterior of the property, such as the back and front gardens being in poor condition, and the need to replace the carpets inside the property.

It is reasonable for the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor to categorize the property as ‘residential’ based on its appearance. However, upon thorough investigation by our team, we discovered sufficient grounds to change the classification from ‘residential’ to ‘non-residential’ for stamp duty calculation.


Case arguments.

The main reason for reclassifying this property from ‘residential’ to ‘non-residential’ was due to the condition of the bathrooms and lavatories. The downstairs lavatory was not suitable for use due to a greywater leak, while the upstairs bathroom had been vandalized and was also unusable.

There was also a problem with the kitchen oven, which had been vandalized and was inoperable. Additionally, there were some exterior condition issues that impacted the quality of the property’s amenities. However, the primary concern was the lack of usable sanitation facilities.

Condition issues.

  • Unusable main bathroom
  • Unusable downstairs lavatory
  • Damaged kitchen facilities
  • Damaged internal door locks
  • Rear garden in poor condition
  • Front garden in poor condition


Whitehall drive tour

Walk-through of property

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Bathroom condition issues

Reasonable condition throughout except for bathroom



This property seemed well-maintained, however it failed to meet the standards set by the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 for adequate sanitation facilities. The damage from vandalism made the bathroom and lavatory facilities unsuitable for use, rendering the property uninhabitable and eligible for non-residential stamp duty.

At first, the conveyancing solicitor representing the buyer considered the property to be residential and fit for habitation. However, upon further examination by our team, it became clear that this was a mistake. Fortunately, HMRC concurred with our assessment and officially reclassified the property as non-residential on the day of purchase.



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If you
– You bought a residential property,
– Purchased within the last 4 years,
– Needed renovation at purchase,
– Acquired it as an investment,
– Paid ‘second property’ SDLT,

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