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Can I Live Part Time in Two Properties?

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 26 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Property Law Homes Financial Tax Estate

Q.I have an elderly parent who has just been diagnosed with cancer and may only live another 6-9 months. I am the only child with no spouse or dependents. The house my parent live in has been owned and occupied by my parent for more than 50 years. When my parent dies I would like to live there as well as keeping and living in my present house. i.e. 3/5 days at one property then 3/5 days at the other. What are the legal and electoral registration implications.

(Mr John Lawson, 14 September 2008)

A.

There is no law to prevent someone owning and living in two homes, or even more. In fact, it is not too uncommon. Many people avoid lengthy commutes by living in a city apartment during the working week and then returning to the family home at weekends.

Many politicians have homes in London and in their own constituencies, while there are plenty of students who have term-time accommodation and return to the family home during breaks in their studies. Of course, there are financial implications as each home will have gas, electric, water, council tax and insurance bills to pay, so take these extra costs into consideration.

Remember that inheritance tax may be payable on an estate when someone dies. This is important, as it may be necessary to sell a property in order to pay the tax bill if the funds are not available from elsewhere. For the majority of estates there will be no inheritance tax to pay because most fall within the nil-rate band. On 6th April 2008, the nil-rate band was increased to £312,000, so any estate valued at less than this no longer has to pay inheritance tax.

If the estate is valued at over £312,000, inheritance tax will be payable at a rate of 40 per cent. For instance, if the estate is worth £400,000, inheritance tax will be payable on £88,000 – the value of the estate minus the nil-rate band threshold. At 40 per cent, that means a tax bill of £35,200.

There is also capital gains tax to consider. One of the properties must be nominated as your principal private residence for tax purposes and if the other property is sold at some time in the future, capital gains tax will be payable on much of any increase in value.

As far as electoral registration implications go, if someone lives in two properties it is legal to register at both, but it is illegal to vote more than once at the same election, for instance a general election. Those who own two properties but live in only one, should not register at the other property.

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