There are many different forms of student accommodation and depending on the type you are purchasing it can be possible to take advantage of an exemption from the 3% surcharge for additional dwellings if the type of accommodation you buy is classed as institutional accommodation for stamp duty land tax (SDLT) purposes. You may also be able to claim multiple dwellings relief or apply the non-residential rates of SDLT if the property consists of 6 or more individual dwellings.


Types Of Student Accommodation

There are three main classifications of student accommodation:

  • Student Halls of Residence  – The type that is most commonly thought of as student accommodation. Student halls are owned by the educational institutions by which they serve and they often sit on or nearby the institutions campus. Only students who are attending the institution can reside in the building. Student halls of residence are always considered non-residential property so multiple dwelling relief is unavailable.
  • Residential Accomodation – Provides accommodation services to only students from the nearby educational institution. The institution does not own the property but private developers do, this type of student accommodation is exempt from the higher rate SDLT. Multiple dwelling relief could be applicable in this circumstance.
  • Non-Residential Accommodation – Usually just ‘ordinary; accommodation used by students but there is no obligation to provide the services only to students. Properties such as HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupation) can fall under this category. Similar to residential accommodation to students, multiple dwelling relief can be applicable in this circumstance.

What Is Purpose Built Student Accommodation?

Purpose Built Student Accommodation is a type of student accommodation that is intended for use by students alone. This accommodation type are designed to feature a large number of grouped flats where all amenities are shared along with living areas. Gyms, games rooms and other facilities are often built in. When you purchase a purpose built student accommodation the property is exempt from stamp duty land tax payments. 

If you believe that you may have been incorrectly charged stamp duty land tax get in touch with our tax specialists at CapEx Tax who can help you in apply for stamp duty relief on purpose-built accommodation and apply for a stamp duty refund for the fees you have already paid.

How Do You Qualify For Stamp Duty Relief For Purpose Built Accommodation?

Most student properties already fall under the current residential threshold of £125,000 meaning that there is usually no stamp duty land tax payable. But if the buyer purchases more than one student property together and the aggregate price exceeds £125,000 then stamp duty land tax would be payable at the normal rate.

If the property is residential accommodation that is intended to be used by students then it is referred to as a “dwelling” and where more than one “dwelling” is purchased multiple dwelling relief is applicable. If the buyer is purchasing more than 6 “dwellings” at one time they would then have the choice to pay stamp duty land tax as a residential property and claim multiple dwellings relief or to pay SDLT under the commercial schemes.

When Can Student Accommodation Be Considered As Multiple Dwellings?

A “dwelling” is classified by the facilities provided  and there are some conditions to meet in order for a “dwelling” to be regarded as an entirely separate residential accommodation and therefore meet the definition of “multiple dwellings.” These conditions are as follows:

  • Fit For Purpose – Each “dwelling” should provide students with basic domestic living needs such as a sleeping area, bathroom, living area and kitchen areas so that the dwelling can exist independently.
  • Independent Entrance – Each of the dwellings should have an entrance door of its own which can be a separate entrance from the common area part of the building or outside of the building.
  • Privacy – There must be a degree of privacy between each dwellings and so any shared doors must be locked from both sides to ensure that each resident has privacy.
  • Utilities – A separate dwelling must have access to basic utilities such as water, heating, electricity etc and you must be able to control these utilities from inside the dwelling.
  • Letter Boxes and Bills – Each dwelling must have its own letter or post box and this can act as strong evidence for separate dwellings. A lack of individual letter boxes however will not be a deciding factor on whether a separate dwelling exists.


These conditions are important to consider when apply for multiple dwelling relief or stamp duty relief for purpose built accommodation as a lack of one of them can put into question whether an area could be considered suitable for use as a separate dwelling.

When Is A Student Residence Classed As Student Halls?

To be classed as halls of residence it must meet the following criteria:

  • The building has planning permission as a residential institution.
  • The accommodation is limited to students and the institution is involved in placing its students in the building.
  • The building is not split into units that are suitab le for residential purposes.
  • Individual study-bedrooms are accessed from corridors, staircases or other communal areas that are shared between the tenants of the property.
  • Common amenities are provided in the building for use by all occupants

How Can CapEx Tax Help?

If you think that you have been wrongly charged SDLT or are wanting to apply for a stamp duty relief for purpose built accomodation then get in touch with one of our tax specialists at CapEx Tax who can aid you in your application process and ensure that you have correct and accurate information and documentation to send to HMRC to support your claim.