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HMRC internal manual

VAT Relief for Disabled People Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Building alterations [items 8 to 13]: is the work carried out in the ‘private residence’ of a disabled person?

Items 8 and 10 (see VRDP11050) allow building alterations to be zero-rated only if they are carried out in a disabled person’s ‘private residence’.

What is a ‘private residence’?

There is no special definition provided for this term, but the phrase ‘private residence’ should be given its every day meaning, which is where a person lives by virtue of a personal rather than a public or general right or characteristic. It does not stipulate for example that it has to be ‘sole’, ‘principle’, ‘primary’ or ‘permanent’ residence.

We should not therefore deny relief to a disabled person who had a second home or a holiday home for instance; provided all other conditions are met. They would however have to reside there to some extent.

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Is a private residence a communal residence?

The word ‘private’ in this context does not require ownership or sole occupation. The fact that a property is occupied by a family does not prevent it being the ‘private residence’ of each of the occupants.

It cannot mean a communal residence, such as a nursing home. Item 11 uses the expression ‘residential home’ to refer to such institutions and so clearly, a disabled person’s ‘private residence’ must mean that the disabled person or his family have control over the residence, rather than being simply one of a number of unconnected occupants.

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Is the work confined to a single building?

If the person’s residence is however, genuinely ‘private’, then zero-rating need not be confined solely to work on a single building, but can be extended to linked or associated buildings, courtyards or gardens. This means that qualifying work can, for example, be zero-rated when related to:

  • ‘granny annexes’ or similar, whether attached to or integral with the main dwelling house or in a separate building within the curtilage of the main dwelling house;
  • a detached outside toilet of a house, quite possibly at the foot of a small garden;
  • the construction of a ramp or the widening of a path across the garden of the disabled person’s house;
  • the lowering of a pavement outside a disabled person’s private residence to facilitate his or her access to that residence; and
  • qualifying work relating to the detached garage of a house. Zero-rating is allowable even where, for example, that garage is located down the road - provided the garage is within reasonable proximity of the house or flat and both properties have the same landlord and tenant.