Buy to let conveyancing solicitors
Although it is getting harder for landlords to make an attractive yield, investing in a buy-to-let property can still be a lucrative venture if done correctly. Not only does it offer the potential for capital growth, it provides a steady rental income stream.
The role of a solicitor is invaluable in ensuring a smooth conveyancing process, and in helping you navigate the legal maze, once you have found a property to buy.
In this article:
Buy to let conveyancing process
Once the seller has accepted an offer, and you have instructed a conveyancing solicitor to act for you, your solicitor will complete the following steps:
Exchange of contracts is the point in the conveyancing process when the sale agreement becomes legally binding. Before the exchange can occur, your solicitor will complete the following steps:
- Receive the contact pack from the seller’s solicitor and review the contents
- Raise enquiries about the property and how it has been used
- Obtain the Official Copy of Register of Title (Office Copies) from HM Land Registry
- Review the Title of the property and confirm that there aren’t any restrictions on letting the property.
- Carry out property searches, including local authority searches
- Review the terms of your mortgage offer to ensure there are no restrictions on renting the property out
- Prepare a report on title, advise you on its contents and implications and, if you are happy to proceed, issue a contract for you to sign.
- Advise you on any other legal agreements you might enter into, such as a deed of trust.
- A completion date is agreed
- The deposit is transferred to the seller’s solicitor
- The seller then signs their copy of the contract, and contracts are exchanged with the seller’s solicitor. Both buyer and seller are now legally committed to complete the transaction.
Completion is the point in the conveyancing process when the seller moves out and the buyer takes full ownership of the property. Before completion, your solicitor will complete the following steps:
- The Deed of Transfer (TR1) is sent to the seller’s solicitor
- Your solicitor sends you a completion statement, detailing the deposit paid, the remaining balance required to complete, and the solicitor’s legal fees.
- Once you have transferred the remaining balance to the solicitor, the solicitor will carry out checks on the seller’s solicitors bank details, then transfer the completion funds.
- Both solicitor s will then confirm completion to their clients, and you will receive the keys to the property.
After completion, there are a few formalities for your solicitor to complete, including:
- Complete the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) or Land Transaction Tax (LTT) forms and pay any tax owing to HMRC or the Welsh Revenue Authority
- Register you as the new owner at HM Land Registry (HMLR)
...inspired confidence from the outset... our move went ahead without a hitch!The Good Solicitor Guide
How much does buy to let conveyancing cost?
Some solicitors charge a premium for buy to let conveyancing, to reflect the additional work that may be involved. With some solicitor firms, fees can range from around £500 to £1,500 plus disbursements.
A disbursement is a third-party cost incurred by a conveyancing solicitor on behalf of their client during the conveyancing process. Examples of disbursements include Stamp Duty and HM Land Registry fees).
Our excellent panel of buy to let solicitors will ensure your purchase completes without a hitch.
Buy to let mortgages
Buy-to-let mortgages differ from standard residential mortgages in several key ways. Primarily designed for investors who plan to rent out the property, buy-to-let mortgages usually require a larger deposit—often around 25%. The interest rates and fees may also be higher compared to residential mortgages.
Lenders assess eligibility based on the potential rental income of the property rather than the your personal income, though some level of personal income may still be required. Furthermore, these mortgages are often interest-only, meaning monthly payments cover only the interest, not the capital, with the full loan amount to be repaid at the end of the term.
Compare mortgage rates and calculate monthly and lifetime costs.Calculate Mortgage Repayments
Make sure your solicitor is on your mortgage lender’s panel
If you are buying with the help of a buy-to-let mortgage, your solicitor must also complete the legal work for the lender.
If your property lawyer isn't a member of your chosen lender's panel, the solicitor would have to outsource this legal work to another solicitor, resulting in potential delays and added cost.
Before you instruct your solicitor, you should make sure that they can act for your chosen mortgage lender.
Over 100 banks and building societies have approved our chosen panel solicitors, so we can help you complete your buy to let purchase without delay.
Our panel solicitors can act for over 100 mortgage lenders
Enter the name of your mortgage lender below:
Compare Council Tax across the UK
Find out how your Council Tax band compares with other areas across the country.
Other financial and tax considerations
Making a decent return on a buy to let investment will take careful financial planning. The following are the key cost you will need to take into consideration:
Buying the property
Other purchased costs
There may be other costs incurred before you take ownership of the property, such as structural survey fees, mortgage arrangement and valuation survey fees.
Stamp Duty (SDLT) - England
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax payable to HMRC on property and land purchases.
If you purchase a buy-to-let property, you will have to pay a 3% surcharge in addition to the standard SDLT rate. The surcharge applies to any property purchased that is not your buyer’s main residence.
Land Transaction Tax (LTT) - Wales
In Wales, Land Transaction Tax replaces Stamp Duty and has its own set of rates and bands. If you buy a second residential property (or any additional residential properties) for £40,000 or more, a higher residential rate will apply.
Owning the property
Unless you are purchasing a buy to let that is ready to rent out, you will probably need to spend money on making sure that the property is in marketable condition. The cost of renovation can vary enormously, depending on o the stature of the property and the target rental market. Look at similar properties being marketed in the area and obtain quotes to get a solid idea of how much you will need to spend before you rent the property out.
Smoke alarms will need to be fitted on all floors and carbon monoxide detectors are required if there is a wood burner.
If you are letting a fully furnished property, furniture must meet the necessary fire and safety standards.
You will need to obtain a gas safety certificate, boiler service and an electrical Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) certificate.
If your property is leasehold, you'll have to budget for annual service charges and ground rent.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
Your property must meet energy efficiency standards, as mandated by law. You will need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a rating of E or above. In December 2020, the government announced a requirement for rental property to haver an EPC rating of 'C' or above by 2028. A Government announcement made in September 2023 has cast doubt on whether this requirement will actually come into effect.
Income tax on rental income
You will need to declare rental income on your tax return, and how much tax you pay depends on your total income for the year.
Letting agency fees
If you decide to use a letting agent to find a tenant, the agent will normally charge a one-off fee. Full property management could cost between 10 and 20 percent of the rental payments.
Selling the property
Property Resale Value
It's essential to consider the long-term growth prospects of the area in which you are investing.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
You will normally have to pay CGT when selling a second home such as a buy-to-let property or holiday home. This means that if your second property has increased in value by more than your annual CGT allowance, there will be CGT to pay.
Estate agent fees
When you decide to sell your property, if you sell through an estate agent, you can expect to pay between 1% and 3% plus VAT.
Are there any allowable expenses I can offset?
There are various deductible allowable expenses that include:
- Repairs and Maintenance - Costs incurred to keep the property in good condition and safety compliant, such as plumbing, electrical work, and painting.
- Insurance - including landlords' insurance premiums for buildings, contents, and public liability.
- Utilities and council tax - allowable if you pay these costs, not the tenant. See: UK Council Tax Bands 2023/24
- Letting agent fees - paid to letting agents for property management.
- Legal and professional fees - like accountants, solicitors, and surveyors.
- Travel costs - mileage or public transport costs for property-related travel.
- Advertising costs - for finding new tenants
- Services - if you provide cleaning, gardening, or maintenance services for example
- Replacement items - such as the cost of replacing or repairing furnishings and furniture
- Ground rent and service charges - if you are sub-letting a leasehold property
- Renovation and improvements - cannot be deducted as a running expense, but may be allowable as a capital expenditure when you sell the property, thereby reducing your Capital Gains Tax.
- Direct costs - like stationery, phone costs and postage
Notably, as from the tax year 2020/21, no deductions in respect of interest and other finance costs on loans or mortgages are allowable.
When two or more individuals invest in property together, a Deed of Trust is a legal agreement that can clarify each individual's share in the property, and in any rental income or sale proceeds.
The deed removes uncertainty and formalises each party’s financial investment in their house, flat or other property or assets.
If you decide to enter into a deed of trust with your co-investor(s), your solicitor will advise you and draw up the deed as part of the conveyancing process. If you have already bought a buy to let property together, you can still enter into a deed of trust retrospectively.
How we can help you
If you are buying, selling, remortgaging or transferring equity in a property, our solicitor panel can help make the process as straightforward and stress-free as possible.
- No Move, No Fee Guarantee
- Fixed fee conveyancing service
- CQS-accredited panel solicitors
Fixed fees from £415 inc VAT
Chris Salmon, Director
About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.