Letting to a family member

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If you have bought an investment property and are considering or have already decided to let it to friends or family, it is important to be aware that you are still running a business. This means you need to have a contract and abide by the legal rules and regulations of letting a property, regardless of how closely related you are to the tenants.  

You may be obliged to charge a certain level of rent

If you are seeking a buy-to-let mortgage for your investment property, the lender is likely to require you to charge rent at 125% or higher than the monthly mortgage costs, so it may not be possible for you to give your friends or family a discount or let them live in the property for free. 

Making sure the property is legally let 

Under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, all properties that are let privately must abide by 29 rules and regulations. This means they need to be warm, free from damp and leaks and the electrics and gas must be safe - the latter needing an annual gas safety check and a certificate issued by a Gas Safe professional. You also need an Energy Performance Certificate to highlight the property’s energy efficiency rating and see if further repairs or improvements to the property are necessary. 

Knowing or being related to the tenants does not absolve you of your responsibilities as a landlord, so you cannot ask them to put up with problems in return for a reduced rent!

You will still be liable for tax 

If you let the property to a family member or friend and they pay you any rent at all, this must be declared. If the rent is higher than the costs, you may need to pay tax on the excess income. 

If the property is either a second home or another investment property and eventually sells for more than you paid for it, it is likely Capital Gains Tax will be owed at the current rate on the increase in value – minus any allowable costs and your personal tax-free allowance. 

It is advisable to have a rental agreement

Even though it may be awkward, you should still sign a formal rental agreement, as families and friends can fall out with each other. Putting everything in writing ensures that there can be no debate or confusion over what was agreed, should things go wrong. If eviction becomes necessary and you do not have any kind of written contract, the process can become lengthy, expensive and stressful.

This is especially the case if the tenant decides to have other people living in the property as all need to be on the tenancy agreement.

What happens to the property if something happens to you?  

Finally, think about what would happen to the property and to your relative or friend living there if anything happened to you? Would they still be able to still rent the property? Would it need to be sold? It is always advisable to update your Will when you have investment property, but when friends and family are involved it is even more important to think about worst-case scenarios.

It is possible to let to family and friends, but it is important to make sure this isn’t done on a casual basis or you may accidentally fall foul of the law and your lending terms and conditions.

If you need a mortgage to buy the property, you should speak to one of our specialists, as not all lenders like to provide buy-to-let mortgages for investment properties that are rented to family and friends. Our buy-to-let specialists can help make sure you have access to the right lenders and finance.