With many people struggling to get onto the property ladder, investing in a buy to let property is still an attractive option. But, do you know your legal obligations before you let your property out?

Brady Solicitors’ conveyancing expert, Claire Townroe provides a checklist of requirements for buy to let property owners.

Despite stamp duty land tax increasing earlier this year by an additional 3% for second properties, it does not appear to have deterred investors. In fact, at Brady Solicitors, our conveyancing department is busier than ever, helping clients buy and sell freehold and leasehold properties.

Once you have purchased your buy to let property (hopefully with Bradys handling your conveyancing!), there are a series of legal requirements that you must comply with before letting it out to a tenant:

Tenancy Agreement

It is vital to have a signed Tenancy Agreement in place before any tenant occupies the property in order to protect yourself as a landlord. The agreement is a contract between you and your tenants which sets out the responsibilities and requirements of both parties.  Brady Solicitors can prepare a Tenancy Agreement for you.

Tenant deposit – If you rent your property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, which started after 6 April 2007, you must ensure the deposit from your tenant is kept in one of the three government-backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes (TDP).  The deposit must be placed in the scheme within 30 days of receipt of the deposit and the tenant must be notified of the scheme used.  Landlords who fail to comply with this risks a fine and is prevented from issuing eviction notices.

Electrical installation – It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure the electrics at the property are safe and are regularly checked during the term of the tenancy.  Failure to do so could invalidate your insurance.

Gas safety – A gas safety check must be carried out by a Gas Safe Engineer before the tenant moves into the Property.  You should carry out further checks every 12 months and provide the tenant with a copy within 28 days of the gas safety check being completed.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – An EPC contains information about the property’s energy use and gives an efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).From 1 April 2018, all new lets and renewals of tenancies have to have an EPC with a minimum efficiency rating of E. The requirement applies to existing tenancies from 1st April 2020. Fines will be imposed for anything less (unless there is an applicable exemption). An EPC is valid for 10 years and a copy must be given to the tenant.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT Testing) – Any portable electrical appliances provided to the tenant should be regularly checked by a suitably qualified person and certainly prior to each new letting of the property.  Although this is not currently a legal requirement, faults in electrical equipment pose a potential hazard and as a landlord you should be doing everything to protect your tenant, and yourself, against any potential claims.

Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms – Smoke alarms should be on every floor of the property and a carbon monoxide detector in every room with a solid fuel source.

Landlord’s buildings insurance – It is the responsibility of the landlord to obtain adequate landlord’s buildings insurance (which is different to ordinary buildings insurance) and this must be in place prior to the tenants’ occupation.

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) – If your property has at least three tenants forming more than one household, who share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants then you will need to speak to your Local Authority to see whether you need to apply for a HMO licence. There may also be further additional legal requirements.

Need assistance with your buy to let purchase?

The conveyancing team at Brady Solicitors has the knowledge and experience to oversee a smooth transaction of your buy to let property and will ensure you fully understand your legal requirements before letting it out. We appreciate that clients do not want to be blinded by legal jargon and we will always be clear in our advice.

And, should you run into difficulties with your tenant, post-purchase, our property litigation and debt recovery experts are on hand to help you resolve the situation.

Contact us

For further information or to instruct Brady Solicitors to handle your buy to let purchase, please get in touch here.