Focus on impact of new tax law on property market
KUWAIT: Ahli United Bank recently held a major seminar at Le Notre Restaurant Kuwait, designed to brief its private banking and wealth management customers on the latest developments in the UK real estate market in light of the current market circumstances. The seminar addressed three major subjects: recent and expected changes in real estate and inheritance tax in the United Kingdom, the outlook for and opportunities and challenges seen in the real estate market in London, as well as the latest developments on the Paddington Gardens Project for real estate investment.
The seminar witnessed a large presence of Private Banking customers who were keen to attend the series of seminars organized by Ahli United Bank for the benefit of customers in order to keep them aware of all changes witnessed by the real estate market in the UK. The seminar was also attended by members of Ahli United Bank’s executive management including Tareq Muhmood, Senior Deputy CEO – Banking Services Group, Ahmed Zulficar Senior Deputy CEO – Banking Support Group and Medhat Tawfik, AUB’s General Manager Private Banking and Wealth Management.
In his opening speech, Medhat Tawfik emphasized that the bank is keen to complement its distinctive services to its customers by holding regular seminars designed to give the Bank’s Private Banking customers the opportunity to benefit from the best legal, investment and financial advice in the field of real estate investment in the United Kingdom.
Tawfik added: “The specialized advisory services provided by Ahli United Bank assists our customers in managing their real estate investments in the United Kingdom and helps them to keep pace with the material laws that affect their real estate investments and to address the effects of any tax changes.”
Richard Jordan, partner at Aron Mitchel Advocates Office, spoke about British taxes that affect Kuwaiti nationals who own or wish to own residential properties in the United Kingdom. He explained that the UK continues to offer a competitive environment in terms of its tax regime despite the introduction of new, stricter tax laws over the past few years, adding that it is possible to deal with the legal and financial consequences of these changes by obtaining a proper legal advice.
During the seminar, Jordan reviewed the basic UK taxes, including stamp duties, capital gain tax, income tax and inheritance tax. In addition, he highlighted to the attendees the new inheritance tax laws related to residential properties in the UK owned by offshore companies, which came into force in April 2017.
Jordan said: “Individuals who reside outside the UK and own a residential property in the UK through a British company are subject to British inheritance tax on their real estate properties since April 2017, in addition to the annual real estate tax on residential properties owned by offshore companies, which was introduced in 2013. This means that if a non UK resident dies while being the owner of a UK real estate property through an offshore company, the beneficiaries from such property will be subject to inheritance tax at the rate of 40 percent of the entire value of the property after deduction of 320,000 Pounds as tax free. Noting, that the tax free amount of 325,000 pounds applies to the value of all assets in the UK”.
Mark Jones, Manager of the Strategic Assets Department at JLL, the leading investment and real estate consultancy, said that Kuwaitis have been buying British properties and have multi-usage investments in the UK over many years.
He added: “Interest rates in the UK are still at around their lowest levels at the present time, and the ability to assume a low debt is an important factor in supporting the housing sector in addition to the low exchange rate of the Pound. Both factors tend to increase the trend toward buying properties in London.”
With regard to the outlook for growth in Greater London, Jones pointed out that average rent rates are expected to rise by 19.9 percent between 2016 and 2020. While house prices are expected to rise to 22.8 percent in the same period.
Faisal Khokhar, United Kingdom Region Sales and Marketing Director at Country Garden Holdings, spoke about the Paddington Gardens Project in Central London, which was marketed by Ahli United Bank to its customers in Kuwait in view of the special features enjoyed by this project, making it a preferred destination as a family house or for investment in the real estate sector. He said that the location of the project is quite unique being in the heart of London and a few minutes away from Hyde Park, Paddington Train Station and other vital areas in the city. This comes as the second project that AUB offers to its customers following the huge success the Bank achieved in marketing the Prince of Wales Gardens Project in Battersea, another of London’s prime areas.
Khokhar went on to say: “Paddington Gardens Project offers an exciting opportunity for AUB’s customers to acquire a home in this high-end project, at current market prices, particularly given the shortage of high-class residential units in the London market at the present time, which by itself is another factor pushing toward increasing demand for the Paddington Gardens Project.
At the end of the seminar, Medhat Tawfik emphasized that AUB will continue to offer new opportunities to its customers in order to cater for their aspirations according to the highest global standards of banking services.