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Sipp exemption for student residences

Investors in student halls of residence can put their property in a Sipp but HM Revenue and Customs has laid down strict criteria to avoid exploitation.

Following the Chancellor’s last-minute decision to ban residential property in Sipps, the Finance Act 2006 included an exemption for “a hall of residence for students”.

The exemption caused some confusion in the market, with advisers and investors unclear about what constitutes a hall of residence and what constitutes a block of flats set up for students.

The HMRC has now laid down strict criteria which leave little room for those who had been hoping to use the exemption as a loophole in the residential property rules.

The property has to be identified by an educational establishment as one of its halls of residence. The educational establishment has to be involved in placing the students in the building and students will have to be limited to one establishment.

There must also be common living and eating areas and the property cannot be bro- ken down into self-contained apartments with one or more bedrooms.

The HMRC says: “It is clear from the characteristics described that to be a hall of residence it is not sufficient that the accommodation is or may only be let to students.”

Savills director Simon Scott says: “With the weight of money that was being targ- eted at general residential investment and the underlying student dynamic, we believe this may well make some of the student accommodation projects particularly attractive to investors.”

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