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Hello, I am Keith, one of the experts on Just Answer, and pleased to be able to help you with your question.
As you already own a house in the UK the 3% surcharge will apply. If you dispose of the house occupied by your ex within three years of acquiring your new one then you can apply to the Stamp Duty Office in Birmingham for a refund of the 3% levy. However, if you are replacing your sole or main domestic residence then the surcharge does not apply. You can find a useful decision table at the Gov UK web site here:
I do hope that you have found my reply of assistance.
I find the rating astonishing. I have just modified my original post and the customer may not have noticed an amendment.
Whilst the Stamp Duty Office is part of HMRC its activities are far removed from the majority of HMRC personnel's experience. I do understand your situation, but the fact that you have no beneficial interest in the property occupied by your ex is irrelevant. You own it and thus the surcharge would apply save that you are replacing an existing sole or main domestic residence and the decision table indicates that the surcharge will not be implemented.
Thank you for your support.
Yes, I do appreciate your dilemma, but these rules are seldom thought through to cover every eventually. This surcharge was brought in in an attempt to deter people from having more than one property to try to free up the market in a time of housing shortage. As you are switching your main residence there is an exception anyway.