All owners of property in the UK are required to pay tax on any rental income they receive, unless the income after allowable expenses is less than the individual's personal allowances. However, special rules apply to the UK rental income of non-resident landlords or landlords who live abroad usually for more than six months. These rules are outlined in the Non-Resident Landlord Scheme (NRL), which operates for rental income paid on or after 6th April 1996.
If you live overseas and let your property through an agent or property manager, they must adhere to the scheme by deducting basic rate tax from your rental income before they pass it on to you, unless they receive written notification to the contrary. You can offset this tax against your own tax bill at the end of the year. So, the agent will either:
If your tenant pays the rent directly into your bank account they must operate the NRL Scheme and deduct tax, unless the rent is less than £100 per week or they receive written notification from the HMRC's Centre for Non-residents (CNR) informing them that they don't have to. How is the NRL Scheme administered? The NRL Scheme is operated by the CNR.
Non-resident landlords can apply to the CNR for approval to receive their rental income gross, i.e. with no tax deducted (an 'approval'). If the application is successful, the CNR will issue a notice and the agent will not be required to deduct tax.
Landlords with poor tax histories may be refused an approval and, in these cases, agents will be obliged to continue to deduct tax at the current basic rate on their net rental income. Landlords must inform HMRC if they return to live in the UK or if their tax situation changes.
An approval will allow you to receive all rental income due without deductions to cover tax liabilities. The forms are available from the CNR by phone or directly from their website at www.hmrc.gov.uk.
If there's more than one owner then both need to apply separately e.g. if one or both live abroad. You can apply for approval if:
If your UK income after allowable expenses is less than your personal allowances, then you will not be liable for tax. Landlords and agents will be notified simultaneously of decisions to grant or withdraw approval.
It's important to work closely with your financial adviser to ensure you gain the maximum benefit and file your returns in good time.
If you require further information on the scheme, visit the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk.