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Stamp duty increase on bulk purchases of homes

  • Ireland
  • Real estate
  • Tax planning and consultancy

26-05-2021

The Oireachtas (the Irish Legislature) voted on 19 May 2021 in favour of the introduction of new stamp duty measures which, together with new planning measures announced recently by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, will have a significant impact on the bulk purchasing of housing developments by investors going forward. The new measures have been implemented with a view to discouraging multiple purchases of residential properties by institutional investors.

What exactly has the Oireachtas approved?

In short, the new measures agreed this week means that bulk purchases of ten houses and/or duplexes or more will be subject to stamp duty at a rate of 10% (the “Financial Resolution”). At present the rate of stamp duty chargeable on the purchase of all residential property is 1% on the first €1 million and 2% on the excess over €1 million. Separately, new planning measures aimed at prohibiting the bulk purchase of houses and duplexes have also been introduced.

What will the Financial Resolution mean in practice?

The Financial Resolution includes anti-avoidance measures which provide that the increased rate will apply to a situation where a purchaser acquires 10 or more units on a cumulative basis over a 12 month period. Once the tenth acquisition completes, the increased rate will retrospectively apply to the previous 9 purchases – though a credit will apply in respect of any stamp duty already paid at the standard rate.

The Financial Resolution provides that the purchase of apartment blocks are exempt from this increased rate. Apartment blocks are defined in the Financial Resolution as “a multi-storey residential property that comprises, or will comprise, not less than 3 apartments with grouped or common access”. Purchases by Local Authorities, approved housing bodies and the Housing Agency are also fully exempt from the increased rate. The increased rate will apply, however, to all other dwellings situated in the State including duplexes (unless considered residential units forming part of an apartment block). The Financial Resolution also includes anti-avoidance measures which provide that the increased rate will also apply to the indirect acquisition of 10 or more houses through the acquisition of shares in companies or units in investment funds.

When does the Financial Resolution apply from?

The new measures set out in the Financial Resolution are stated to apply from 20 May 2021. However, the Financial Resolution contains a three month transition period in respect of binding contracts entered into prior to 20 May 2021, which provides that this increased rate will not apply to acquisitions of duplexes/houses in pursuance of any such contract which was completed before 20 August 2021. The relevant deed to the purchase will need to be accompanied by a statement certifying that the deed was executed solely in pursuance of a binding contract entered into prior to 20 May 2021. In circumstances where a binding contract has been exchanged prior to commencement of the Financial Resolution and the contract is for the purchase or forward purchase of 10 or more houses and/or duplexes with a practical completion date in the near future, the relevant parties to such contracts (both purchaser and vendor) should take particular notice of this transition period, as a delay in completion could have significant stamp duty implications for the purchaser.  

It is important to note that houses/duplexes purchased prior to the commencement of the Financial Resolution will be taken into account when considering whether a purchaser has reached the 10 unit threshold required to trigger the increased rate. However, the increased rate will only apply to units purchased after the commencement of the Financial Resolution – so this should not result in the higher rate being triggered for phases acquired prior to the commencement of the Financial Resolution.

Conclusion

Our Real Estate and Tax teams will be monitoring this situation as it evolves over the coming weeks, so should you require any advice or assistance in respect of these measures, we would be happy to assist.                 

For further information, please contact: