First Time Buyers & Stamp Duty

Stamp duty land tax relief for first-time buyer’s information and useful links to government websites provided below.

Important Dates

Since 22 November 2017, if you are purchasing a residential property that costs £500,000 or less, you may be entitled to stamp duty relief. If you purchased a property that completed before this date, unfortunately the first-time buyer relief does not apply to you.

Who qualifies for first-time buyer stamp duty relief?

The relief applies to purchases made in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. There are a number of conditions that you must meet in order to be eligible for the relief. There’s a full guide provided on the website which you can access using the following link:

What relief will you get?

The amount of relief you will receive is based on the cost of the property you are purchasing. The first £300,000 of the purchase price will be exempt from stamp duty. This means, as a first-time buyer, you may not have to pay stamp duty at all. For any amount that exceeds £300,000, stamp duty will be charged at an amount of 5%. Unfortunately, if your transaction goes over £500,000, the relief won’t apply to you.

You can access a government calculator here:

How do you claim first-time buyer stamp duty relief?

As a rule of thumb it states that ‘Relief must be claimed either in a land transaction return or an amendment to that return’. We would recommend however that you read the guidance – specifically Chapter 7 for more information on this; which can be accessed via this link


How to make a space your own when you can’t put down permanent roots.

It’s important to know what the ground rules are when thinking about decorating your rented property. If you think that the space is in need of a fresh coat of paint, you should ALWAYS ask permission before you make any changes, as most landlords prefer neutral colours and may not want you to decorate their home yourself. There are ways that you can make the space your own without making any drastic changes – please see our tips below:


Investing in some signature or statement accessories such as lamps will provide your space with a bit of your personality. You could buy lamps that have interchangeable shades so you can ‘revamp’ your living space throughout your tenancy.


Accessorising your furniture with statement cushions, art work (you could even paint your own canvas). Be careful with hanging things on the walls as your agreement may prevent you doing so; you could try leaning paintings up against walls as an alternative which could give a more relaxed feel to the room. Other options could be easels or other stands that you could use to perch your paintings on!

Also changing your bed linens can completely change the feel of your room; this is probably one of the easiest ways to brighten up a neutral room.


If you aren’t keen on the flooring in your rented property then rugs are your best friend, they are great ways to add colour to a very neutral room. Or to make wooden or laminated floors a bit more cozy,


Dressing your windows with curtains can make a big difference to the room; you’ll be able to take these with you if you move as well; just remember to keep your landlords curtains in a safe place for when you’re ready to move out.


Quite often you may not have access to a garden when you are renting; especially if you are renting a flat. If this is the case then why not bring the outside indoors and accessorise your place with some plants. If you’re the type to forget to water them then you could always opt for artificial plants.

If you’re ever not sure about what you can do in your property it’s always best to check first to avoid any unnecessary costs for you later down the line.

Orchard Shipman Flowers

Energy Saving Tips

Living on your own can be expensive if you don’t budget your money. Here are some suggestions for making your money go further. The Citizens Advice Bureau may also be able to give you more advice on budgeting.

Top 10 Energy Saving Tips

  1. Switch off lights in empty rooms.
  2. Close curtains at dusk.
  3. Set thermostats correctly (hot water around 60-65°C, room thermostats between 18-21°C).

Top Tip!

If you turn your thermostat down by 1°C – this can save you as much as £60 per year! This may be the oldest trick in the book but it’s also one of the best, and after a week you won’t even notice the difference!

  1. Turn electrical appliances off rather than leaving them on standby.
  2. Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need each time you boil it.
  3. Cook with lids on pans and match ring size to saucepan size.
  4. Avoid placing furniture in front of radiators.
  5. Wait until you have a full load before using the washing machine and use a lower washing temperature. Just remember lower temperatures work for almost anything except stained clothes, underwear and bed sheets.
  6. Use a shower instead of a bath where possible.

Top Tip!

Turn the pressure down on the power shower, you’d be surprised how much water they use- sometimes even more than a bath. Power showers are luxuries for a reason in that they cost a lot.

  1. Tumble dryers cost a lot to run. Dry clothes outside, or on a clothes rail for free. Remember to open a window when drying clothes inside to stop condensation building up.

Fridges & Freezers Tips

  • Make sure there is plenty of space for air to flow around the back and top of your fridge freezer.
  • Keep the cooling fins at the back of the appliance clean and free from dust.
  • Put the appliance in a cool place away from direct sunlight and the cooker or boiler.
  • Check the inside temperature with a fridge thermometer (around £2 from any homeware shop) to make sure the fridge is the right temperature.
  • Use the fridge/freezer thermostat to keep the temperature right: the higher the setting the cooler the temperature.
  • Don’t put warm or hot items into a fridge/freezer. Let them cool down first.
  • Keep the fridge/freezer door shut to stop cold air escaping and warm air getting in. Replace damaged door seals, as they let the heat in.
  • Defrost regularly – the more ice the more electricity is needed to keep the appliance cool.

Lighting Tips

  • Switch off lights when they are not needed.
  • Use the lowest wattage light bulb that gives the light you need.
  • Make use of daylight. Keep windows clean and furniture away from windows.
  • Install energy saving light bulbs in lights used for three or more hours a day, including those kept on for security purposes and outside lights on at night.