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Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2

Are you keen to escape the rat race with a move to the countryside?  Maybe you would just like a bit more space or perhaps you have grand plans for a garden or even a rural enterprise.  Whatever your motivation this will be a significant change and, as with any house move, there is lots to consider.

Our previous article Planning your escape to the country – Part 1 asked ‘How rural do you really want to be?’ and discussed the realities of living off-grid.  In the second part of their guide to escaping to the country, Teresa Scoular, Residential Conveyancer with Parnalls Solicitors looks at some more issues that could affect you when buying a rural home.

Are there any tax implications?

In most cases, the tax implications of buying a rural home are the same as for any other property. However, if your new home has a significant amount of land attached to it, then you may benefit from taking specialist advice.

If the land is agricultural or used for equestrian purposes, then HMRC may treat the property as mixed use, which may allow for some savings in stamp duty land tax. Conversely, owning a property with land attached could increase your potential liability to capital gains tax when you come to sell. This is because you usually do not have to pay capital gains tax on your main home, but this relief will not apply to land beyond your immediate garden and grounds.

Even if your new home is more modest, it is a good time to review your estate and tax planning. Your solicitor can help you ensure that your arrangements are up to date and reflect your new priorities.

Do any planning restrictions affect the property?

Your solicitor will check that your new home in the country has all the necessary planning permissions, just as they would with any property. Some rural properties have an agricultural user restriction which will limit occupancy to those engaged in farming.  This will affect a property’s value and suitability, so it is important to check whether any apply to your new home.

Properties in designated National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will also be subject to more restraints on development than comparable homes elsewhere. These may make it harder for you to extend your new home and if you have any plans for an extension or other works you should discuss these with your solicitor before committing yourself.

Will your new home remain a rural haven?

Most local authorities will have some planning polies in place that aim to protect the unique character of the countryside and to ensure that any development is sustainable. However, although you may choose a new home because of its rural aspect, or views over the open countryside, there is no guarantee it will stay that way, unless, of course, you are also fortunate enough to be able to buy the surrounding land.

If a view or aspect is important to you, discuss this with your solicitor early on. While it is impossible to predict what may happen in the future, they will be able to consider the local authority’s development plan and whether there are any proposals in the pipeline for building nearby. They can also include some pertinent questions in the enquiries before contract, so your sellers will have to tell you what they know about any proposals. That way you can discover if the pony paddock next door to your dream home has permission for a block of flats, or that much needed local crematorium, before you commit yourself.

For further information about buying a home in the countryside, or home buying in general, please contact Teresa Scoular on 01566 772375 or email scoulart@parnalls.com

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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