A recent tax tribunal in which a couple who acquired a derelict building were able to negate the additional 3 per cent stamp duty charge homes could set a precedent for other buy-to-let investors.

The ruling has revealed a scenario where investors can avoid paying surcharge, and this could pave the way for many more who have already paid the charge, to request a refund from HMRC.

The tax tribunal, held in Bristol, suggests that certain property purchases may not be subject to the additional 3 per cent surcharge, just the standard rate of stamp duty.

Paul and Nikki Bewley bought a derelict bungalow in Weston-super-Mare, bulldozed the original building and built a new property in its place, believing they would not be liable for the 3 per cent charge.

However, HMRC contested this view and said the surcharge was applicable, on the grounds that a property was capable of being used as a dwelling sometime in the future.

But a recent tax tribunal ruled against the HMRC claims, stating that the surcharge was only chargeable if the home was in suitable living condition immediately.

This judgement suggests that buy-to-let landlords may have a case for exemption from the 3 per cent surcharge, if buying a property that is uninhabitable at the time of purchase.

Specialist buy-to-let broker Commercial Trust Limited believes this ruling could potentially represent an opportunity for retrospective claims from buy-to-let investors who have paid the additional charge on properties that were uninhabitable at the time they were bought.

HMRC said: “We’re considering the judgement carefully.”