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FACT FILE - Buy to let in The UK and a brief guide to the 2004 Housing Act

The Buy to let market has been growing considerably in the UK since the mid 1990’s.If you are considering purchasing a second or third property to let out, consider the following: It should be a medium to long term investment – it is no good purchasing a property on a rising market and selling it a couple of years later. You might have made good money on it, but where are you going to get your income from 10-15 years later on?  Decide upon the area – Will it be where you live or in a town 200 miles from your home? Contact an experienced letting agent – They know the market – even in the area you live in. The agent should be a member of one of the professional associations in the UK


Maintenance: Avoid purchasing a property that is likely to cost a lot on maintenance. Has it got flat roofs for example?  Finance You should calculate rental and mortgage payments. Take into consideration that there can be rental void periods during the year, rents can go down and mortgage rates increase.  Detail The property should be well equipped – kitchens – bathrooms to high specification – tenants have plenty of choice generally in the UK and if your property is not up to standard they won’t rent it. If you are furnishing the property don’t consider second hand furniture. The decoration should be light and neutral colours are best. 

You should take into consideration the following:

  • Length of lease, if leasehold
  • Service charge and consents to let from freeholder - Some freeholders in blocks of apartments charge for every consent to let and this can be expensive and although you might be able to offset this against Income Tax, it could eat into your rental income. Check out the lease before purchasing.
  • You should also check out the level of service charges for an apartment. If the property has a lift you will have to pay an equal share of maintenance, even if the apartment you are thinking of buying is on the ground floor.
  • Developments with indoor pools and saunas might appear attractive, but you might not necessarily achieve a higher rental than in a comparable that does not have those facilities.
  • Location of property
  • Floor level if you are purchasing an apartment
  • Many modern apartments offer a living room, kitchen, double bedroom with en-suite shower room, family bathroom and a small single bedroom. This immediately cuts down the rental potential for two people sharing who want nearly equal size bedrooms.
  • Some developments do not provide parking. Even if a tenant walks or takes public transport to work, from experience the majority of tenants still have cars that they use for leisure and food shopping etc.
  • If you are buying an apartment, try to avoid those that do not have any owner occupiers living there. When there are owner occupiers living on site, they tend to contact the managing agents more regularly if there are problems and ensure that the development generally is being well maintained.
  • Property type - 4 bedroom property should have at least two bathrooms etc.
  • Bungalows might not always be such an attractive proposition as they have often have long gardens and these have to be maintained. Tenants these days do not generally like gardening, so you have to provide a garden service
  • Amount to be spent on the property - New bathroom & Kitchen, decoration levels

Gardens: Tenants generally do not like gardening. Think very carefully if you are going to buy a property with a very long back garden. Who will maintain it? A gardening service can be expensive, but you should be able to offset the costs off your tax bill. Consider making the garden easy to maintain – gravel on the flower borders, good size patios for barbecues in the summer and if you still have a lawn remember to leave equipment to maintain it with. 

General Information & Points to note before letting your property: Buy to let –Investment and Returning owner occupiers. It is essential that your property be presented well for letting. It should be well decorated, clean and tidy to attract a tenant who will pay a good rental.  Under the 1985 Landlord and Tenant Act, Landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure that Tenants are “safe from harm”. This means ensuring that Landlords provide housing that is fit for habitation.  A property available for rent, must be supplied and maintained to a good standard. Landlords must ensure the structure, hot water and water supply, lighting heating and ventilation is maintained throughout the tenancy. 

Water  - Water Industry Act 1991 – Information about water meters for home movers.

Since 1989, most new homes built in England and Wales have had a water meter installed. In addition to this, many water company customers previously on a non-metered supply have opted for water meter.

Since 1st April 2002 companies like Three Valleys Water Plc in England have been installing water meters when a property is sold. From the 1st January 2005 this company will also be installing meters when a property is rented out.

The government act covering this is under S1444B of the Water Industry Act 1991.

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N.B. This information should not be relied on for accuracy and is presented here without the responsibility of jml Property Service and the website it is being displayed at. ©jml property Services 09-04

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Housing Act 2004 (SEE ALSO:Information for landlords letting or thinking of letting a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) - New Rules for Landlords - Anti-Social Behaviour Act (Scotland) 2004 - Click Here for further information )

The Housing Act 2004 received the Royal Assent on the 18th November 2004. Listed below is a summary of Contents of the Act.

  • The Housing Health and Safety Rating System
  • HMOs ** - licensing scope and schemes
  • HMOs ** - licensing requirements
  • Selective licensing of other residential accommodation.
  • Interim and final management orders.
  • Home Information Packs
  • The Right to buy
  • Park Homes
  • Increasing effectiveness of powers to regulate Registered Social Landlords
  • Payment of grants to bodies other than Registered Social Landlords.
  • Anti-social behaviour in social housing.
  • Empty Dwelling Management Orders.
  • Tenancy Deposit Schemes.
  • Rent Repayment orders.
  • Gypsies and Travellers.

Definition of HMO**

House in Multiple Occupation means a building, or part of a building (e.g. a flat):

  • Where more than two unrelated tenants share rented property. For big shared houses - defined as those with three or more storeys and five or more occupants - a licence will always be required. Similar rental properties could be affected to as councils will be able to extend licensing to include other types of HMOs or even insistthat all private landlords are licenced.see below
  • That is occupied by more than one household and in which more than one household shares an amenity (or the building lacks an amenity such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities);or,
  • That is occupied by more than one household and which is a converted building that does not entirely comprise self contained flats (whether or not there is also a sharing or lack of amenities); or
  • That comprises entirely of converted self contained flats and the standard of conversion does not meet a minimum, that required by the 1991 Building Regulation and at least one third of the flats are occupied under short tenancies.

And is"Occupied" by more than one household :

  • As their only or main residence,or,
  • As a refuge by persons escaping domestic violence,or,
  • During term time by students,or,
  • For some other purpose that is prescribed in regulation.

And the households comprise:

  • Families (including single persons and co-habiting couples (whether or not of the opposite sex, or,
  • Any other relationship that may be prescribed by regulations, such as domestic staff or fostering or carer arrangements.

Mandatory HMO licensing will be resticted to certain categories of "high risk" HMOs. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) envisages that this will include those HMOs (as defined by the Act) that comprise of three storeys or more and are occupied by five or more persons, who compromise two or more households and consist, in part or entirely of non-self contained units of accommodation (i.e. with an element of shared facilities).

Converted blocks of flats (i.e.all self contained units with no sharing of facilities) that fall within the definition of an HMO will not be subject to compulsory licensing, but can be licenced under "additional licensing" if they are problematic.

The detailed implementation of HMO licensing regulations will be contained within secondary legislation which is still at consulation stage.

To get get a licence, landlords will need to show an annual gas safety certificate, working smoke alarms, safe electrical appliances and furnishings. They will also have to state the property is suitable for the number of people living in it. Councils will be free to charge different licence fees.

Landlords have until July 2006 to get a licence. If they don't they will face fines of up to £20,000 plus having to repay rent they got while unregistered.If an HMO property doesn't have enough bathrooms the landlord could be asked to install one by a certain date. If one is not installed, the licence could be lost and a £5,000 fine given. s

SEE ALSO:Information for landlords letting or thinking of letting a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) - New Rules for Landlords - Anti-Social Behaviour Act (Scotland) 2004 - Click Here for further information

Housing Act 2004 - Chapter 34 -Click Here

N.B. This information should not be relied on for accuracy and is presented here without the responsibility of jml Property Service and the website it is being displayed at. ©jml property Services 01/ & 11-05


FACT FILE - Part "P" Building Regulations (Electrical Safety in Dwellings) England & Wales Click Here

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See also

You need insurance cover for whatever the weather, Adequate Buildings insurance - keep your home / investment protected

and Landlord Insurance Article by Philip Suter


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