Listed building owners warned over VAT deadline

Preservation of a listed building involves dedication in time and money due to the more expensive methods and materials required to maintain them. RICS, along with much of the property industry, fears that the extra 20 per cent levied against owners of these buildings will mean these essential works will no longer be financially viable.

As a result many owners of listed properties are rushing to complete works and ensure the survival of the building and Britain’s heritage.

Maryann Richmond-Coggan is rushing to complete the restoration works to a listed barn, she said:

"We fell in love with our home straightaway and knew we wanted to restore the full property to its former glory. However, we could not have envisaged the commitment it would require in terms of money and time – although it has been extremely rewarding.

"We are now hoping to complete the restoration work to the Grade II Listed barn in the grounds for use as a holiday let in time for the October deadline.

"By completing ahead of the deadline we will save around £40,000 to £60,000. Quite simply, with those added costs, we could not even have considered undertaking the project."

The lifting of the VAT exemption is also impacting on the desirability of listed properties to property investors, leaving many languishing on the market.

Marion Money recently completed the conversion of her listed building into apartments, she said:

"The Grade II listed building had been vacant for some time after the commercial tenants who used the property as an office moved out. In the economic climate I was unable to find new tenants for the offices and decided to convert it into a residential property.

"This was a costly enterprise and the returns are comparatively low. Had there been an additional 20 per cent to pay in VAT costs the investment would not have been economically viable and the property would have continued to rot unoccupied and, most likely, further decreased in value.

"The VAT exemption is a very important concession for buildings that require specialist works by specialist trades with specialist materials at specialist prices. Rather than be lifted, I feel strongly that the VAT concession should be extended to include routine maintenance not just capital expenditure."

RICS, as part of the ‘Cut the VAT Coalition’, is calling for the government to abandon the introduction of 20 per cent VAT to listed buildings and introduce VAT at five per cent on all home repair, maintenance and improvement works.

Stephen Thornton, RICS UK Head of External Affairs, said:

"The Chancellor has missed a golden opportunity to create a level playing field on all residential works.

"Research shows that five per cent VAT across the board would create 26,560 jobs in the construction sector with a total economic stimulus of around £1.7 billion in 2012 alone."

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