Whether you’re a first time landlord, you’re planning to expand and diversify your property portfolio, or you’re looking to sell, our expert buy to let conveyancing solicitors are on hand to make your experience as smooth and straightforward as possible.
We have in-depth experience with the intricacies of buy to let conveyancing and can handle every aspect of your property transaction on your behalf.
With 20% of households in the UK privately renting, buying to lets can be a lucrative investment. However, unlike other investments, landlords also face onerous and challenging responsibilities, including the duty to maintain the property.
Beyond the practical aspects of selling or purchasing property, we can provide a full service solution, including advice on tax, financing, insurance, maintenance, and planning. We can also provide clear, realistic advice on your business or investment strategy and your legal rights and responsibilities as a landlord.
We welcome clients wherever they are based and we are often instructed by people from across the country, including London, and even abroad. As such, we’ve developed an enviable reputation for our secure online buy to let conveyancing services which means we can conduct your property transaction over the web without you ever having to visit us at our offices (unless you want to).
Our buy to let conveyancing solicitors’ expertise
We can assist you throughout the entire buy to let conveyancing process, including:
- Liaising with interested parties such as the other party’s solicitors, estate agents, mortgage lenders, surveyors, and freehold landlords (if necessary)
- Undertaking searches and reporting on the legal title to the property, including the seller’s right to sell
- Advising on right and restrictions associated with the property, including rights of way, drainage, and boundaries
- Drafting or reviewing all legal documentation including the sale contract
- Ensuring monies are transferred to the right places at the right time so the transaction completes as agreed
- Advising on SDLT and submitting the SDLT return to HMRC.
- Liaising with HM Land Registry in relation to the correct registration of the property and ownership
- Advising on your legal rights and responsibilities as a landlord, including ongoing costs and maintenance advice
- Liaising with your mortgage provider to change the mortgage on your current property from a residential mortgage to a buy to let mortgage, or providing advice about remortgaging to allow you to rent the property out
Our expertise is based on our decades of experience with the UK rental market and its associated trends, risks, and opportunities. This experience is backed by our national reputation for delivering top notch customer service; when you instruct our buy to let conveyancing solicitors, you’ll get:
- The entire process explained in detail and logical, insightful advice on the best way to proceed
- Friendly, approachable staff who are happy to answer any questions and address concerns at any stage of the transaction
- Regular updates on the progress of your case
- Fixed fee agreements wherever possible, so you can stay fully in control of your buy to let conveyancing costs
Choosing your buy to let property
Choosing the best buy to let property for your purposes is absolutely essential for your future success as a landlord. You will need to consider factors such as:
- Rental income – how much can you realistically charge tenants? Shop around for buy to let mortgage deals and ensure the rent will cover the mortgage and all of your other outgoings
- Location – attracting the right kind of tenant is key. Think about things such as distance to city centres, shops, schools, universities, and public transport links and how these might affect who rents your property
- Freehold versus leasehold – a leasehold property may have restrictions about whether it can be rented out or whether you can refurbish or make improvements. We can review any lease documents on your behalf prior to you committing to the property
- Age of building – an older building is more likely to have issues requiring expensive work. Some old buildings may also be listed, meaning you may be restricted on the work you can do on them
- Energy considerations – under new laws, landlords must now obtain an Energy Performance Certificate rating of E to be able to grant tenancies. It’s therefore important to consider whether your chosen property will need work to bring it up to standard
- Maintenance – is there any damage to the property which will need fixing before tenants can move in? Problems such as damp, leaks, and structural issues could force you to incur hefty costs down the line
- Resale value – a buy to let property is ultimately an investment so think about when you will want to sell and whether you are likely to make a profit
Buy to let financing
Buy to let mortgages work differently to standard residential mortgages because they are perceived to be higher risk. This is because many landlords expect their rental income to cover the maintenance of the mortgage, however, there may be times when the property is empty or the tenant cannot pay the rent.
Therefore, to get a buy to let mortgage, you are likely to need a larger deposit (around 25-40% versus the 5-10% required for residential mortgages), face a higher rate of interest, and the higher associated fees.
Many buy to let mortgages are interest only, meaning you only make payments on the interest and the capital remains outstanding until the end of the mortgage term at which point you will probably need to remortgage or sell the property.
It is not usually possible to let a property under the terms of a standard mortgage as the terms will usually forbid tenancies. This is why a specific buy to let mortgage is required.
We can provide in-depth advice about your buy to let financing options, as well as discussing other costs which are likely to impact you, including tax on rental income and insurance.
Income Tax relief changes
You will need to pay Income Tax on your rental income. Until 2016-2017, landlords could deduct mortgage interest and some other costs from the rental income before calculating their Income Tax. However, from April 2020, tax relief will be limited to the basic rate of Income Tax (20%) and will be calculated as a reduction in tax liability rather than a reduction to taxable rental income.
The changes are being phased in from 2017, meaning many landlords’ tax bills are gradually increasing. You should discuss with your tax advisor how this affects the viability of your buy to let property transaction.
Capital Gains Tax
If you are selling a buy to let property, you will be liable to pay Capital Gains Tax. You should discuss with your tax advisor how much tax you are likely to incur as well as discussing any other options for “disposing” of the property tax-free, such as transferring it as a gift to your spouse or civil partner.
How does Stamp Duty work for buy to lets?
In England, Stamp Duty Land Tax will affect all buy to let purchases over £40,000. In Wales, Land Transaction Tax will affect all buy to let purchases over £40,000.
Stamp Duty Land Tax
You will have to pay an additional 3% on top of the Stamp Duty bands for all buy to let purchases over £40,000. The bands work as follows:
|Standard rate||Buy to let rate|
|Up to £125,000||0%||3%|
|£125,001 to £250,000||2%||5%|
|£250,001 to £9250,000||5%||8%|
|£925,001 to £1.5 million||10%||13%|
|£1.5 million +||12%||15%|
For example, for a property worth £300,000, Stamp Duty will apply as follows:
- First £125,000 = £3,750 (3%)
- Next £125,000 = £6,250 (5%)
- Final £50,000 = £4,000 (8%)
- Total Stamp Duty to pay = £14,000
The only exception to this is for first-time buyers who are only liable for the standard rates of Stamp Duty.
Land Transaction Tax
Like Stamp Duty in England, Land Transaction Tax in Wales means you will have to pay an additional 3% on top of the standard bands for all buy to let purchases over £40,000. The bands work as follows:
|Standard rate||Buy to let rate|
|Up to £180,000||0%||3%|
|£180,001 to £250,000||3.5%||6.5%|
|£250,001 to £400,000||5%||8%|
|£400,001 to £750,000||7.5%||10.5%|
|£750,001 to £1.5 million||10%||13%|
|£1.5 million +||12%||15%|
For example, for a property worth £450,000, Land Transaction Tax will apply as follows:
- First £180,000 = £5,400 (3%)
- Next £70,000 = £4,550 (6.5%)
- Next £150,000 = £12,000 (8%)
- Final £50,000 = £5,250 (10.5%)
- Total Land Transaction Tax to pay = £27,200
The only exception to this is for first-time buyers who are only liable for the standard rates of Land Transaction Tax.
What are the legal requirements for a buy to let?
Before you can rent out your property, you must ensure you comply with all the legal requirements for a buy to let, including obtaining:
- A gas safety certificate
- An electrical safety certificate
- An energy performance certificate
- Landlord’s insurance and building insurance (if the property is mortgaged)
- A House in Multiple Occupation licence if the property is to be rented by 3 or more people who are not from the same household (such as a family)
You also need to ensure the property meets fire safety standards, including any furniture or furnishings.
If you are intending to take a rent deposit you will need to ensure that this is held in a government approved tenancy deposit scheme. There is a formal procedure for this and the tenant will need to be advised in a prescribed way.
What are the costs of a buy to let mortgage?
The fees for a buy to let mortgage tend to be much higher than for a conventional mortgage and the interest rates are usually higher as well. The minimum deposit for a buy to let mortgage is between 20 and 40% of the property’s value with the average sitting around 25%.
There is also a lender arrangement fee which is either fixed or is a percentage of the loan amount, usually around 0.5 to 2%. This fee is often added to the loan. Some lenders charge a booking fee, usually in the low hundreds of pounds and a valuation fee, which tends to be dependent on the value of the property.
Buy to let solicitors will also require legal fees for conveyancing the property, which includes such work as searches and registration with the land registry. If you decide to instruct us, these fees will be taken into account as part of your buy to let conveyancing quote.
Are solicitors’ fees tax deductible for buy to let?
No. When professional fees relate to the sale and purchase of a property, they are not considered tax deductible. This typically includes fees for buy to let solicitors and surveyors as they relate to the sale or purchase of your property.
Why instruct our buy to let conveyancing solicitors
At Bird & Co Solicitors, we offer professional, high quality legal services to buy to let landlords across the UK and abroad.
Whether you’re an “accidental landlord” (perhaps because you’ve had to move out of your property or inherited one) or you already own an extensive portfolio, we can adapt our approach and strategy according to your individual needs.
We specialise in online conveyancing services to make your experience as convenient and straightforward as possible. By using phone, email, and video calling, you don’t have to come see us at our offices unless you want to. We are also certified in the Cyber Essentials Scheme for our secure online systems, meaning we can even transfer important legal documents over the web.
We’ve been recognised as one of the leading law firms for conveyancing services and have been awarded the Conveyancing Quality Scheme Accreditation from the Law Society for our expertise.
We are also accredited in Lexcel, the legal practice quality mark for firms which excel in regulatory compliance, legal practice management, and client care. Our primary concern is to protect your interests and to do everything within our legal knowledge and experience to achieve a positive outcome for you. When you instruct us, you trust that we’ll provide reliable, first-class, and supportive advice and representation within flexible and competitive fee structures.
Our buy to let solicitors’ fees
Wherever possible, we will quote you a fixed fee to undertake your buy to let conveyance. We always ensure our buy to let legal fees are proportionate and appropriate in the circumstances and we’ll be transparent about costs from the outset, allowing you to stay fully in control of your overall spend.
We will also keep you informed of any third party costs (such as Land Registry fees) which may arise as your case progresses, so you won’t be hit with any hidden costs down the line.
For further information, please visit our fees page. The cost of your property transaction will ultimately depend on the individual circumstances of your case, so please feel free to get in touch for a tailored buy to let conveyancing quote.