Buying to let advice

Buying to let advice

More people are seeking to support their retirement by generating rental income from the booming rental market.

If you buy to let and become a landlord you take on many responsibilities and legal obligations the moment your tenants step through the door. If you do not comply with your landlord responsibilities, you can be prosecuted or sued by your tenants for financial compensation.

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There are many considerations to be borne in mind if you do plan to become a landlord. The big difference between buying to let and buying for yourself is the fact that it's not your property any more. When you grant a tenancy, you are effectively giving up possession of the property to your tenants for a period of time. One of your most important responsibilities as a landlord is to allow your tenant to live in the property without interference, so you can't go in and out as you please. In fact you can't go in at all unless your tenant agrees.

Even though it's not your property as such, you are still responsible for keeping it in good condition and you have legal obligations to repair that cannot be avoided. Those repairing obligations cover the structure and exterior of the property, the installations for the supply of water, electricity, gas and sanitation, space and water heating. You also need to comply with numerous regulations, including the gas and furniture regulations if the property is rented furnished.

If things go wrong with your tenants and you want to evict them, you can only do so by following the correct procedure through the courts. Even if your tenants have only signed up for six months, you must follow strict procedures and timelines to recover possession at the end of the tenancy term. You must serve the proper form of notice on your tenants and only then go to court to get an order for possession. If you try to evict your tenants in any other way, this counts as unlawful eviction and/or harassment which are criminal offences. The last five years in particular have seen dozens of new laws relating to houses in multiple occupation, tenancy deposits, and energy performance certificates, so this is an area fraught with complications.