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Buy to Let

Purchasing a property for the purpose of renting it out can be a tricky business; you have legal responsibilities and there can be a lot more to the process than just buying it and finding a tenant. We’ve put together some Q&As that you might find useful.

How much stamp duty is payable on a buy to let property?

From 1st April 2016, anyone who owns more than one property is subject to an additional 3% surcharge on top of the stamp duty due. If this applies to you click here to link to the Inland Revenue’s Stamp Duty Calculator. This will help you understand the additional amount you’ll be required to pay. Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 103 2600 and we can do it for you.

What’s the difference between freehold and leasehold properties?

Freehold ownership is when you own a property and the land it’s built on. Leasehold, on the other hand, is when you own the building, but the land is owned by someone else. If you’re purchasing a buy to let property you’ll need to take into consideration if it’s a leasehold as you could be liable for additional things such as management fees, notice fees, certificates of compliance, deed of covenants, share certificate fees etc.

How quickly can I complete?

Understandably, this is the most frequently asked question we get, but it’s hard to answer. That’s because there are a number of factors which will determine the completion date, such as:

  • How complex the legal title to the property is, i.e. if it’s a flat then there’s further information required from landlords and management companies
  • Issuing of a mortgage offer. The time it takes a bank or building society to issue an offer will vary from each institution and each individual case as they may require more information from one applicant to another
  • Search results. Most searches come back promptly, however, the search with the Local Authority will vary depending on the council involved. We can give you an idea of turnaround times when discussing your particular case as councils do make this information available
  • Survey results. Sometimes surveys are not so positive and a renegotiation of the price is required through the estate agents. This can also take time whilst specialist reports are obtained and the new price agreed

If the seller has ever let the property out or there is already a tenant in it, what should I ask for?

You need to obtain:

  • The tenancy agreement if there’s a tenant living in the property
  • Details of the deposit scheme 
  • Proof that the rent is paid up to date and there’s been no issues with the current tenant
  • A letter from the existing landlord authorising the tenant to pay the rent to the new landlord
  • The appropriate consents from the local council if necessary, but certainly if you’re purchasing a house of multiple occupation
  • Any consents required as stipulated in the deeds to the property or flat
  • The electric and gas certificates as these are a legal requirement that need to be checked annually 

Can I advertise a property I’m buying after I exchange to secure a tenant before I complete?

Yes you can. That way you’ll reduce the risk of the property standing empty for any length of time.

Is sub-letting allowed in a buy to let property I purchase?

If you wish to allow sub-letting then you’ll have to check the following to ensure you can do it:

  • The mortgage conditions if you have a buy to let mortgage 
  • Any covenants or stipulations contained in your deeds. If you have a flat or leasehold property it’s quite common to see a stipulation that you’re not allowed to sub-let or it may require the consent of the freeholder or original developer
  • Again, if you have a flat, any regulations that may be in place with the other flats and management company
  • Planning permission or local authority. Certain areas of towns and cities have strict conditions as to letting which can affect houses of multiple occupation and sub-letting

What is a house of multiple occupation?

More commonly known as a house share, it’s a property that’s rented to at least three people who aren’t from the same family, but share the facilities - the bathroom and kitchen for example.

If I’m buying a house of multiple occupation what should I look out for?

As a landlord, you’ll need to know whether the property has planning permission, a licence (if renting to more than three people in one property who aren’t family members, although this number changes depending on location) and whether there’s a fire alarm system to name a few. You should speak to a solicitor to understand exactly what you’ll need to check for as it can differ depending on the area on where you’re buying.

How does Russell & Russell provide a conveyancing quotation for its property services?

We always provide a written quotation at the outset of a transaction, based on the information provided to us at that time so that you know where you stand and to ensure that there’s no misunderstanding between us at a later time.

In the case of residential conveyancing, we’re usually able to offer a fixed fee for our time. We’ll quote a fixed fee for the work normally undertaken in a standard case and will include a list of additional fixed fees that we would charge if you require additional work to be undertaken. Examples of this would be arranging a Title Indemnity Policy, Help To Buy ISA, preparing a Trust Deed or dealing with a Deed of Covenant. We may also be prepared to work on a “No Sale No Fee” basis – please ask about this if it’s of interest to you.

We’ll always honour the fixed fee unless the information relied upon by us at the time of the estimate was incorrect, or it subsequently becomes apparent that there’s an issue that will significantly affect the amount of time that has to be spent. In either case, we’ll notify you of any such development before we proceed further.

Examples of circumstances that might change the cost would be if the property is a flat, not a house as you initially informed us. Or, if a lease extension is required or if the ownership is defective and remedial action is needed.

For a free quote and breakdown of related disbursements known at this time please use our quote enquiry form.

In addition to receiving instructions direct from buyers and sellers, we also work alongside brokers, referrers and property agents who refer clients to us. If we have agreed to pay to them a referral fee for recommending us to act for you, then we’ll disclose the amount to you and we’ll pay the amount involved to the referrer out of our fee.

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