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HMRC internal manual

VAT Construction

Reduced-rating the renovation or alteration of empty residential premises: have the premises been lived in recently: applying the second ‘empty home condition’

In order to encourage people to renovate empty houses, it was recognised that the first ‘empty home condition’ would not benefit people who acquire and live in a property whilst it is being renovated. The second ‘empty home condition’ was therefore created to help such people.

This condition was not extended to ‘multiple occupancy dwellings’ and buildings used for a ‘relevant residential purpose’ as it was thought unlikely that residents would occupy such premises until such time as they were fit to live in.

The condition works as follows:

  • the dwelling must have not been lived in for a continuous period of at least two years
  • when the dwelling is acquired, the acquisition must bring to an end the two year period of not being lived in. Also, one of the people who first start to live in the property again must be the person who acquired the property

Note: The two year test is based on when the property was acquired, not when the property starts to be lived in. So, although occupation can take place at a date after the date of acquisition, the second ‘empty home condition’ is only of benefit to those acquirers who bring dwellings back into use within a short period of time.

  • no renovation must have been carried out in the two years prior to acquisition. The purpose of this rule is to prevent someone acquiring a renovated property, such as from a developer, and then carrying out further works at the reduced rate, thereby restricting the second ‘empty home condition’ to genuine works of renovation. In determining whether renovation work has been carried out, you can ignore any minor works carried out that were necessary to keep the dwelling dry and secure
  • the supply must be made to the acquirer. Sub-contractors cannot therefore use the second ‘empty home condition’
  • the work must be qualifying work and be carried out within one year of the date of acquisition. If work spans the one year date an apportionment can be made.