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HMRC internal manual

VAT Construction

HM Revenue & Customs
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‘Relevant residential purpose’ - interpretation of terms: relevant residential purpose - background: applying the definition

A building doesn’t qualify as being used for a ‘relevant residential purpose’ simply by having a residential use. Instead, the use must fall within one (or more than one) of the specified categories. The Tribunal, in University of Bath (VTD 14235), has confirmed that the categories have their own conditions:

As we see it, the draftsman in making use for a relevant residential purpose a separate category has done so intentionally, as he has with use for a relevant charitable purpose, and has provided for zero rating to apply in specific circumstances with, to some extent, their own rules.

It is important, therefore, that the exact intended nature and use of the building is examined carefully before accepting that it is intended to be used for a ‘relevant residential purpose’. The rest of this section explains the conditions. Use the following links to the various categories of ‘use for a relevant residential purpose’:

  • VCONST15200 - home or other institution providing residential accommodation for children
  • VCONST15250 - home or other institution providing residential accommodation with personal care
  • VCONST15300 - hospices
  • VCONST15350 - residential accommodation for students or school pupils
  • VCONST15450 - residential accommodation for members of any of the armed forces
  • VCONST15000 - monasteries, nunneries and similar establishments
  • VCONST15550 - an institution which is the sole or main residence of at least 90 per cent of its residents.

If a building is not, in itself, used for a ‘relevant residential purpose’, you must also consider whether it is used, together with other buildings, as a unit for a ‘relevant residential purpose’. Note 5 to Group 5 applies to the reduced rate in the same way that it applies to the zero rate.