Flipping Houses

Newsletter issue - August 09.

If you own and occupy more than one property as your home you can elect, within a set time period, for one of those properties to be your main home for tax purposes. You can change this election at any time so another property qualifies as your main home, hence the term 'flipping'. When you sell your main home the increase in value that has built up while it was your main home, and for the last three years of ownership, is free of capital gains tax.

Three years of the ownership period will be free of tax, even if the property has only been designated as your main home for a very short period, perhaps only a week. This is the tax rule many MPs used to avoid paying tax on the home that had been largely funded by their expense claims.

You can flip your properties just like an MP, if you make the first election within two years of acquiring another residence, or within two years of marrying (or civil partnership). If you have missed this deadline on your current properties it may be worth acquiring a very small third property to give you the opportunity to make the election again.

However, beware that the law in this area could be changed with little advance notice following the MP's scandal. If you want to take advantage of this flipping rule, talk to us without delay.