These days, the demand for buy-to-let mortgages is on the rise as more people are renting out their properties to tenants as a way of increasing their income. Few people are aware, however, that, as a buy-to-let landlord, there are a number of legal considerations which you have an obligation to take seriously, or you could run the risk of breaking the law.

Louise Vermeulen, Associate Solicitor at Humphries Kirk, gives the following hints and tips to House Magazine about the legal responsibilities you face as a buy to-let landlord and why seeking the help of a solicitor could save you time and protect you from unexpected pitfalls along the way;

1. You must inform your mortgage lender that you are intending to rent out the property. If you are converting your mortgage from owner occupier to buy- to- let status, it is highly likely that you will have to pay an administration fee. You will also need to inform your insurance company as you may need a different policy.

2. When you receive a deposit from your tenant, that money does not technically belong to you unless it is granted that it should be used. Tenancy deposit schemes were introduced in 2007 to establish a clear agreement between a tenant and their landlord to ease dispute resolution if any happen to arise. The deposit needs to be lodged in accordance with the rules of a scheme.

3. You are legally obliged to provide proof that the property is safe and that the tenants won’t come to any harm for the duration of their tenancy. This includes the provision of a Gas Safety Certificate. This is obtained by employing a registered technician to check your boiler. You will also need to hire an electrician to test all appliances and ensure your furniture adheres to fire regulations.

4. Energy Performance Certificates have been required on all rented properties since October 2008. This is an assessment of the heating, water, insulation, construction and energy efficiency capabilities of a property and is valid for 10 years.

5. If you are renting out your property to at least three tenants who live together under one roof and share a toilet, bathroom and kitchen facilities with other tenants, the property may be classed as a House in Multiple Occupation and a licence may be required.

For more information and further assistance on becoming a buy-to-let landlord, please contact Louise Vermeulen on 01202 421 111 or email