This guide is for people who are thinking of buying a property to rent with a ‘buy-to-let’ mortgage and who may have little or no previous experience of investing in the private rented sector. 

It is not intended as a detailed guide, if you are thinking of purchasing a buy-to-let property you should seek expert advice on legal, tax, financial and property management matters.

Buy-to-let is a form of residential investment where you buy a property, usually with the aid of a mortgage, and rent it out. The 1988 Housing Act made investment in residential property more attractive to landlords when it introduced a new type of tenancy giving landlords more control over their properties and there has been a substantial recovery in the private rented sector since then. The availability of loans for buy-to-let purchasers has also increased the appeal of owning rental property.

When you buy a property to let out, you are becoming a landlord. And owning investment property is not like owning your own home. Instead you are effectively running a small business and you have important legal responsibilities, for example with regard to your tenants’ safety.

Before you choose a property and arrange the finance to purchase it, there are a number of factors you should look into, which are described below. 

Choosing a property

Researching your market

You should carefully research the market where you want to buy your property. You can either do this yourself or ask a specialist letting agent to provide advice on the best area and type of property to renting out. If you research the market yourself, you could gather information from estate agents, local papers, existing landlords and even the local authority, about the demand for and supply of, rented housing.

Finding your tenants

You will also want to think about the type of tenant you are aiming to attract. Are you hoping to attract single people, or families, as they will have different requirements. It is important to remember your property should have features that are attractive to would-be tenants, rather than would-be purchasers.  

Choosing your location

You should also look at how close the property is to local amenities such as shops, transport and schools, and are these the type of amenities that are important to your tenants? So, if you are aiming to let your property to say a family with school-age children, how close the nearest schools are, will be an important influence on where they choose to rent. 

This page is for information only. The responsibility for purchasing a buy-to-let property rests with the investor.