You will hear varying answers from lots of tax advisors and accountants, but the truth of the matter is that there is no actual minimum period. It is really a case of quality, and not so much a case of quantity. By quality we mean that HMRC would expect that you genuinely intended on making the property your main residence. If you moved house, you would change all manner of things, such as registering the TV licence and council tax to your name and new address, changing doctors, perhaps the kids changed schools. You may have genuinely intended to live somewhere, but perhaps a month later something completely unexpected may happen, such as a family death, which may change all your plans. This is a complex area and it would be highly recommended you seek advice here.
Unfortunately, if an annual exemption is not used in any given tax year, then it may not be carried forward into future tax years. At date of publication, your first £11,850 of capital gains each year is covered by the annual exemption, although if you own a property with your husband/wife, then the annual exemption is doubled, and so a jointly owned property by a couple would not pay tax on the first £23,700 of capital gains.
There are many tax advantages in operating a FHL given the activity is classed as a trade, but it can be a bit of a lottery ensuring you meet the strict criteria.
To achieve this, you must meet conditions A, B, C and D below:
If you do not meet these conditions, it may be worth taking advice in case you can benefit from a couple of useful elections named "period of grace" and "averaging".
Unfortunately, the wear and tear allowance was abolished from 6th April 2016 onwards for landlords. As such, a landlord with a fully furnished, personally owned property may be able to claim the wear and tear allowance in the 2015/16 tax year, but not the 2016/17 tax year onwards. Although, from 2016/17 onwards however, you will be able to claim for the replacement of moveable furnishings. It is important to note that it is only the replacement cost which is claimable, not the original cost. HMRC's guidance states that the replacement has to be a like-for-like purchase or the nearest modern equivalent. HMRC also allow costs incurred in disposing of the furnishings, but you must ensure you account for any proceeds received for the replacement of the furnishing.
In HMRC's property income manual, section PIM2205, they state you may claim for: "subscriptions to associations representing the interests of landlords." As such, the good news is that it is indeed an allowable deduction, and can be included on the property pages of the self assessment tax return.