Refund of fees if you registered a Lasting or Enduring Power of Attorney

If you applied to register your power of attorney between 2013 and 2017, from 1 February this year you may be able to claim a refund of some of the fee that you paid, together with interest.

You can claim a refund if you are the donor (the person making the power of attorney) or an attorney. However, any refund will be paid to the donor.

The amount you may receive depends on the date of your application and could be between £34 and £54 plus interest for each power of attorney.

You can claim online at www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund or by telephoning the Refunds Helpline on 0300 4560300 and choosing option 6. If you are an attorney making the claim, you will need the donor’s full name, address and date of birth as well as their UK bank account number and sort code.

If the donor has died, you can still claim but you must do so by phone and you will need the death certificate and grant of representation or Will.

It can take up to 12 weeks to process your claim and if approved, the refund will be made direct to the donor’s bank account.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) – New Requirements regarding the Grant of New or Renewal of Leases from 1 April 2018

The legislation for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) has been in place since 2008 and provides that an EPC is required if a property is marketed for rent (as well as sale).  However the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) England and Wales Regulations 2015 will bring phased minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) into force which may make it harder to rent out a property.

MEES will apply only to assured, assured shorthold and rent act tenancies and not, therefore, to properties rented to companies or non-Housing Act tenancies.  The first phase of MEES came into force in April 2016, and provided that tenants can request landlord consent (which cannot be unreasonably withheld) for improvements listed on the EPC to be completed.

The significant change from 1 April 2018, is that it will be unlawful to grant new, or renew, leases with an EPC rating of less than ‘E’ and from 1 April 2020 that provision will apply to all let properties.  Landlords with properties that have an EPC rating of less than ‘E’ will need to carry out works to improve the energy performance of the building to a rating of ‘E’ or higher, or they will face civil penalties albeit there are certain exemptions.

It will be sensible for all landlords to consult their agents or surveyors at the earliest opportunity to consider the implications of this legislation for any properties they may own and thereby establish a practical action plan so that any work that may be necessary can be spread over a reasonable period.

Principal Residence Dilemma

“It is quite simple, our investments and savings are covered by our nil rate bands – the house which is our biggest non-income producing asset, can be gifted to the children and after seven years will fall outside our estates for inheritance tax.”

What could be simpler – but a straight gift of the house to children does not work for inheritance tax as it will be caught by the ‘Gift with Reservation’ rules.

The principal residence is often perceived to be an ideal asset to gift on to the children because

  • It is the most significant element of the estate
  • It is non-income producing and future occupation is secured as it will be owned by the children.

The Gift with Reservation rules catch a straightforward gift of the house to children, quite simply because a benefit is retained (continued occupation and enjoyment). As a consequence, the gift is considered a non-event for inheritance tax purposes and the value of the property is subsequently brought into charge to tax, even if the gift took place over seven years previously.

Schemes have been developed to get round the problem, but each has its own drawbacks and the Inland Revenue have made it clear that they will look closely at each scheme and will attack them if they do not comply with the current rules.