Buy to let when your fingers are wet!


Heidi Berry explains everything you need to know.

More and more dentists are purchasing residential properties as rental investments.  Others are putting empty floors at their commercial premises to good use by renting them out as self-contained residential units (subject to planning and any necessary consents from the landlord if the commercial property is leased). Both options potentially offer a good income stream from the rental payments and the first offers an opportunity to gain from an increase in property prices over time.

Unlike commercial leases, residential tenancies tend to be for a short period of time only – usually 6-12 months offering great flexibility and removing the concern that you may be stuck with an unsuitable tenant for years. While the parties can agree to extend the term, there is no risk that the tenant will gain security of tenure or an automatic right to renew their tenancy (as is the case in many commercial tenancies).

What is essential though is being an informed landlord. The law imposes certain requirements on landlords and, unless these are complied with, getting the tenant out may prove tricky. Unless a tenant agrees to vacate at the end of their fixed term, a court order must be obtained in order to secure possession (it is a criminal offence to remove a residential tenant without one). Before making such an order, the court will need to be satisfied that the landlord has complied with their duties.

A useful checklist for landlords is set out below:

  • Provide an energy performance certificate to the tenant free of charge
  • Supply the tenant with a copy of a gas safety certificate
  • Provide the tenant with a copy of DCLG: How to rent: The checklist for renting in England.  Free copy available here
  • Check the tenant’s immigration status under the right to rent scheme
  • If the property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO), check whether it needs to be licenced
  • Check there is a working smoke alarm installed on each storey of the property that is used wholly or partly as living accommodation
  • Check there is a working carbon monoxide alarm in any room that contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance
  • Protect the deposit within 30 days from the date of receipt
  • Give the tenant and any guarantor, prescribed information relating to the deposit within 30 days of receipt of the deposit
  • If the rent is paid weekly, provide the tenant with a rent book
  • Carry out regular health and safety risk assessments for the property generally and specifically for legionnaires disease (no further action is required if you have assessed any risk as low)

For any further advice on renting or assistance with evicting a tenant, contact Heidi Berry, a specialist landlord and tenant solicitor at Rudlings Wakelam, at  or on 01284 755771.