by Richard Bland – Partner

Given the current conditions, it may seem imprudent for buy to let investors to buy at this time. However, given that banks are reducing interest rates on savings accounts and the volatility in the Stock Market then investors may wish to consider investing in bricks and mortar. This should always be a long term investment though given the tax and associated costs of buying a property.

I set out below a number of aspects for investors to consider if they are going to acquire an investment property:-

  1. Mortgage finance – if mortgage finance will be required for the purchase of the property, you should consult with an experienced mortgage broker or qualified independent financial adviser early on in the process to check you will be able to obtain the mortgage you need and that it is on affordable terms. There is no point proceeding if you will not be getting some return on your investment each year.
  2. Tenants- if you are buying the property subject to an existing tenancy, you should check whether there have been any problems in the tenants paying rent and whether there is a deposit which was taken at the outset of the tenancy which has been placed in an approved deposit protection scheme. This is important firstly to know you will be getting an immediate return on your investment but secondly to give you a measure of protection if there are problems with the tenants paying rent or maintaining the property in accordance with the tenancy agreement.
  3. Letting out the property– if you are buying the property vacant, you should check with local letting agents whether you are likely to be able to rent out the property in its present condition and what the potential rent may be. You can then factor this in to your calculations as to whether the property is a worthwhile investment. You should also be aware there could be restrictions on letting out the property if the property is owned under a lease. Your solicitor should be able to advise you on what these restrictions are and whether it affected your proposed investment.
  4. Condition of the property– while you may not be buying the property to live in, you should factor in potential costs for work to the property. For this reason, it is sensible to get a detailed condition report from an independent surveyor before you proceed with the purchase of the property. In this way, you should be able to find out fundamental issues which may affect your investment such as the need for a roof replacement before you proceed.
  5. Gas and electrical safety– you are obliged to ensure the gas and electrical services in the property are safe before you rent out a property and during the period the property is rented out. You must particularly carry out an annual gas safety check for any rental property and there should be a gas safety check which is not more than 12 months old before you rent out the property. You are further currently required to ensure electrical installations in a rental property are safe and it is likely mandatory checks will be introduced for 5 yearly electrical safety checks for rental properties soon. If the services are not working safely, you will have to get them repaired or replaced at your cost. For this reason, you should consider getting the gas and electrical services checked by your own qualified contractor before you exchange contracts.

The above aspects are just a summary of matters to consider when buying an investment property. If you would like assistance with buying a property to rent out, please contact me (richard.bland@carterbells.co.uk) or one of our other experienced property solicitors at Carter Bells Solicitors.