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When does a property rental business start?

When does a property rental business start?

A property rental business will have a start date and an end date, and it is important to know what those dates are.

When setting up a property rental business, there will be some preparatory work, and costs will be incurred in  setting up the business. The start date will draw a line in the sand between activities that are preparatory to the letting and activities that are part of the property rental business.

Where a person has more than one property, they may well have more than one property business. All UK properties let properties owned by the same person form part of the same UK property rental business. However, overseas properties are kept separate, as are furnished holiday lettings and UK furnished holiday lets are kept separate from EU furnished holiday lets.

For example, if a person owns a buy-to-let property on their own, a UK furnished holiday let on their own and two residential lets with their spouse, they will have three property businesses:

·         a property rental business comprising the rental property which is solely owned;

·         a share in the property rental business comprising the two jointly owned rental properties; and

·         a UK furnished holiday lettings business.

The start date for each property will need to be established.

Once a business is up and running, any preparatory activities undertaken in relation to further let properties will be activities of the existing business, rather than preparatory activities.

Start date

The date that the rental business begins is a question of fact. Where the business is letting property, the business will start when the first letting commences.

On-going expenses

Once the property letting has commenced, relief for expenses incurred on or after the date of commencement is given in accordance with the usual rules. Expenses are deductible if they are revenue in nature and incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the property rental business and a deduction is not otherwise prohibited. Relief for capital expenditure is given either in accordance with the cash basis capital expenditure rules where accounts are prepared under the cash basis, or through the capital allowances system.

Relief for expenses in getting further properties ready to let is given under these rules, rather than under the pre-trading rules.

Pre-commencement expenses

Expenses incurred before the first let may be deductible under the pre-trading rules. Under these rules, the expense is deductible if it is incurred in the seven years prior to the start of the property rental business, and the expense would have been deductible if it had been incurred once the property rental business had started. Where these conditions are met, the expense is treated as if it had been incurred on the day on which the property rental business started, and relief is given in calculating the rental profits for that period.

Similar rules apply to capital expenditure. Where capital allowances are available, any qualifying expenditure is treated as incurred on the start date and is taken into account in calculating capital allowances for the first period of account.