Letting to a relative below market rate?

A client has bought a flat which is being let to her son. He has recently started his working life in a relatively low paid job, so she is helping out by charging him less than market rent and, as a result, expects her mortgage interest and other expenses to exceed the rents received.

What options are available to her for tax relief on the losses?

In order to be deductible from rental income for tax purposes, property business expenses must pass the familiar test of being incurred “wholly and exclusively” for the purposes of the business. HM Revenue & Customs take the view that if property is let at less than market rent to a relative then the related expenses are incurred partly for benevolent or philanthropic reasons so fail the wholly and exclusively test. Strictly speaking, this means that no expenditure ought to be allowed as a deduction against the rental income but HMRC will allow a deduction up to the amount of rent received for the property. This means the client will not be liable to tax on the income from her son but it also means she will not have a loss eligible for tax relief.

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