This is another “are we first time buyer” topic. My girlfriend and I want to buy our first property and I’m checking whether she is a first time buyer ( as I am ).
Her parents gifted their children the bare-ownership of properties in France to their children about 12 years ago. She has a third of that bare-ownership. The parents retained the “beneficiary ownership” (the usufruct). That means the bare-owners cannot perceive rental income, use the property as their residence, nor do they pay the land tax on it. They can’t sell it the properties either unless the beneficiary owners agree to it (and they would retain ~50% of the sum, it depends on their age). The purpose of this setup is for inheritance: upon both parents deaths, the full ownership is immediately transferred to the children, and the properties won't be part of the estate.
With regards to HMRC’s definition of a first time buyer, as per guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/stamp-duty-land-tax-relief-for-first-time-buyers-guidance-note), I am hoping she falls under the wording “must not, either alone or with others, have previously acquired a major interest in a dwelling “: given there's hardly anything she can do with the property, I was hoping this would not consitute a major interest.
Alternatively “Relief is not denied by virtue of a previous acquisition as a trustee unless the purchaser was also a beneficiary of the trust.” Could it be constructed this is situation is very similar to a trust and would HMRC assimilate it to that?
Do you think we have a chance at being eligible for stamp duty relief? Additionally, how will our solicitor approach this? Is this something we need to get clarified from HMRC’s perspective? Would a consult with a solicitor be of help in order to get clarifications on this? As we’re looking to buy just under 500k in London, the sums at stake are pretty big:/
Thanks for the help!