CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Profiting from your private property investments – staying on the right side of the law

PUBLISHED: 12:26 22 February 2016 | UPDATED: 14:23 13 April 2016

For years now, many investors have enjoyed profitable returns from residential buy to let properties.

For years now, many investors have enjoyed profitable returns from residential buy to let properties.


There are some recent important legal developments which residential landlords should ignore at their peril.

For years now, many investors have enjoyed profitable returns from residential buy to let properties. This type of investment is currently very much in focus following the Chancellor’s announcement in the November Autumn Statement of the 3% Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge on buy to let and second homes (from 1 April 2016) and new rules regarding the way that tax relief is available on buy to let mortgage interest payments, which is due to be phased in from next year.

On top of these, there are some recent important legal developments which residential landlords should ignore at their peril.

“Right to Rent” Immigration Check Scheme

From 1 February 2016, all landlords, agents and householders letting or subletting residential property in England will have to make checks to ensure that new tenants and occupiers have the right to be in the UK. There is no requirement to check the “right to rent” of existing tenants and occupiers.

The four basic steps to making a “right to rent” check are:-

• Establish how many adults will be living at the property as their only or main home: a landlord will be responsible for checking all adult occupiers (whether or not they are named on the Tenancy Agreement). What constitutes “reasonable enquiries” will depend on a range of factors, including the size and nature of the property;

• Obtain original versions of one or more of the acceptable documents for the adult occupiers: there are two lists of documents which prescribe which documents are acceptable as proof of a person’s right to be in the UK;

• Check the document in the presence of the potential occupier: a landlord must undertake basic visual checks of the documents in the presence of the prospective occupier in order to verify that the documents belong to them and are genuine before allowing a prospective occupier to move into the property.

• Make a copy of the document and retain with a record of the date on which the check is made: a landlord must make a clear and unaltered copy of the original acceptable document before returning it to the prospective occupier and retain that copy for a period of at least one year after the tenancy comes to an end.

If a landlord fails to comply with the requirements correctly, it could result in having to pay a fine of up to £3,000 per breach.

Landlords can have a written agreement with a letting agent who would be responsible for fulfilling the requirements of the Scheme, and therefore who will be liable for any penalty in the absence of establishing a statutory excuse.

Residential Tenancy Deposit Schemes

Whilst landlords of Assured Shorthold Tenancies have had an obligation to register a deposit (with a designate Tenancy Deposit Scheme ), paid by a tenant at the start of their tenancy since April 2007, there have been a number of recent cases that have led to further obligations - so residential landlords need to make sure they monitor their buy to let property tenancies carefully to ensure they comply with all the registration requirements.

The effect of “getting it wrong” can be major. For example, if the mandatory requirements are not complied with, a landlord will be prevented from recovering possession of the property and may have to pay a financial penalty of between one and three times the amount of the deposit.

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015

These Regulations impose duties on landlords of properties in the private rented sector in England to install and test battery powered smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

The Regulations require all residential landlords to ensure that each floor has a smoke alarm fitted (where used wholly or partly as living accommodation). Also they must fit a carbon monoxide alarm in any room which contains any appliance which burns solid fuel. These alarms must be tested and in working order at the commencement of all new tenancies.

These Regulations are enforced by Local Housing Authorities (there are very limited exceptions), and if a landlord does not comply with a “Remediation Notice”, which is official written notice requiring a landlord to rectify the breaches within a given period of time., then they will face a fine.


In recent years, and as illustrated in this article, the private rented sector has become increasingly regulated. It is fundamentally important that landlords are aware of all their obligations, and buy to let properties are correctly managed, with all legal requirements properly adhered to. If not, a buy to let investment property can quickly become unprofitable!

David Haines is a Partner and a Property Disputes Lawyer with a wealth of legal experience in residential property matters. For further information, please contact David on 01483 252586, or by email on

More from Surrey Life


Historic Royal Palaces and IMG have announced that Kylie Minogue is the first headliner confirmed for Hampton Court Palace Festival 2019. These will be her only London shows of summer 2019.

Read more

Whether you're looking for fine dining, pub grub or exotic dishes, eating out in Surrey has something for everyone. Here's our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more

Enjoy this linear rail to ramble section of the Thames Down Link route taking the short train-ride from Box Hill & Westhumble to Ashtead before walking back

Read more

Great things to do in Surrey this weekend (16, 17 and 18 November): art exhibitions, walks, concerts, theatre, places to visit and other events and ideas.

Read more
Friday, November 9, 2018

We round up 10 of the most beautiful photos of Surrey shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s that time of year when our beautiful countryside is alight with the colours of autumn. Here, we pick out some of her favourite spots to enjoy the seasonal splendour – as well as some perfect places for a post-walk refresher

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Found on the stretch of the River Thames between Weybridge and East Molesey, Sunbury-on-Thames is blessed with a village feel where it meets the water. From antique hunts to the joys of river life, here are a few of our favourite reasons to visit

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Verity & Violet are Loui and Jess – a singing duo from Surrey who specialise in blending vintage classics with modern favourites. The two have achieved success in the capital, but are now hoping to attract an audience closer to home

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

With the Christmas celebrations seemingly starting earlier every year, it all feels a little too ‘soon’ sometimes, but what if you want to look your best for Christmas & New year celebrations and are considering having cosmetic non-surgical procedures? The Bella Vou Pantiles Clinic offers surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures and treatments from a purpose-built private clinic in the heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells

Read more
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Living in England’s most densely wooded county, it’s always a pleasure to witness Surrey donning its autumn finery. Here’s some of the best places to do just that - plus a few pub pit stops to enjoy on route!

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

From Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas markets and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in Surrey this season

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We are regularly reminded of the high cost of housing with statistics revealing that only one in three millennials will be able to afford their own home during their lifetime and that most will remain in the category known as Generation Rent

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Year 5 pupils at Reigate St Mary’s School (RSM) who designed and carried out a community project as part of a UK wide Make a Difference Challenge, have won the London area competition for their stunning scrapbook record of their project

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Surrey this month

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search