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    What Are The Rules For Letting A Property To Family?

    By The reallymoving Team Updated 26th Jun, 2024

    Written by Jeremy Greer

    Reviewed by Emily Smith

    It might seem that letting your property to family members is simple, but it can be more complicated than you think.

    What Are The Rules For Letting A Property To Family?

    We regularly hear about the activities of the Buy to Let market in the news, but we almost never hear about the rules surrounding letting a home to family members.
      
    Is this allowed or do the terms of a Buy to Let (BTL) mortgage forbid a home being let to a family member?
      
    With help from a 2019 Guardian ‘Ask the experts’ Q&A on the matter, we’ve taken a closer look…

    Can you let a home to a close family member?

    In the scenario raised in the Guardian, ‘person A’ had been approved for a BTL mortgage for a property that they had no intention of living in, but the person’s brother was willing to live in the home. The brother would pay rent at a reduced rate.

    What happens if you go against the terms of the mortgage?

    While family members were not allowed to be tenants under the terms and conditions of the mortgage - as is the case with most BTL mortgages - the buy-to-let owner wondered what the consequences would be if they went against the terms of the mortgage and allowed the brother to live there anyway.
      
    Well, in cases like these, you would be breaching the terms of your BTL mortgage by renting the property to a close relative – and as a consequence your lender would be well within its rights to demand full repayment of the loan.
     
    The main reason for most BTL lenders not allowing people to let to close relatives – which covers parents, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents and a spouse or civil partner – is because the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has to regulate the sale of and the advice on the mortgage in these cases.

    This means a more in-depth assessment of affordability than that required for normal FCA-regulated residential mortgages and so requires more work from the lender. With this in mind, most lenders only provide standard, unregulated buy-to-let mortgages to make the process simpler.

    What happens if you don’t inform your lender about plans to let to family?

    The consequences of not telling your lender that a close relative is also going to be your tenant could be severe. You would, in effect, be committing mortgage fraud, which could lead to a request for you to repay your mortgage in full – a considerable financial outlay that very few people would be able to afford at short notice.
      
    Even if you have sought permission and your lender has allowed you to let to a family member, they may not be too pleased if the arrangement is on a ‘mates/family rates’ basis, where the rent is not at or close to market value.
      
    If the rent doesn’t cover 125%-145% of the monthly mortgage payment – which is likely to have been one of the requirements when your mortgage application was approved – this could cause you issues with repaying your mortgage.

    Certain lenders do provide options 

    Fear not, while the majority of lenders do not offer mortgages allowing you to let to close relatives, some do.
      
    So, if you’re desperate to let to a family member, it is achievable if you look in the right places. There are lenders that offer regulated or ‘family’ BTL mortgages, even if these are rare.
      
    In February 2018, Mansfield introduced its specialist Family Buy to Let mortgage product to the marketplace, aimed specifically at landlords looking to let to a close family member.

    These mortgages are harder to find but allow you to rent your property to family members.
      
    Parents who want to rent out a home to their children while they’re at university may be particularly interested in this kind of product. The appeal of being able to provide their children with affordable, good quality rental accommodation while they study and also making a property investment at the same time is likely to be strong for some.
      
    If you want to let to family but aren’t with a lender who offers this type of mortgage, or one which isn’t willing to be flexible on this matter, you have may have to switch lenders to completely avoid the risk of being asked to pay back your mortgage in full.

    What about extended family? 

    While siblings, parents, grandparents, grandchildren and spouses or civil partners all count as close family, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces, and nephews don’t.

    So, if you wanted to let your property to these relations (or other extended family), there would be no issue with regular BTL mortgages, as you wouldn’t be in breach of the terms and conditions of said mortgage.

    Even if you let to family, the same rules apply 

    If you do want to let property to family, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t act as an informal, casual arrangement – at least not in the eyes of the law. You still have obligations as a landlord, as well as tax and Stamp Duty costs to consider.

    You will need a tenancy agreement

    Just as with renting to non-family members, you will need a tenancy agreement that states the rental amount and rules for the property. This can help both the landlord and tenant understand exactly what is expected of them.

    Protect your family member’s deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme

    As part of the tenancy agreement, you will take a deposit. This will need to be protected in a tenancy deposit scheme.

    A deposit can help protect both parties and provide some peace of mind that the property rules will be followed by both tenant and landlord.

    You will need to follow the Housing Health and Safety Rating System regulations

    Remember that all properties let privately must adhere to 29 rules and regulations listed under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, which means they need to be warm, damp-free and free from leaks, while all the electrics and gas must also be safe.

    In the latter case, an annual gas safety check needs to be carried out and a certificate needs to be issued by a Gas Safe-registered professional.

    You must provide an EPC

    You’ll need to provide an Energy Performance Certificate to showcase the property’s energy efficiency rating and carry out repairs or improvements to the property as and when they are necessary.

    Take out landlord insurance

    Even if you’re renting to a family member it is a good idea to get landlord insurance. Landlord insurance will cover buildings and contents insurance as well as any issues such as your tenant failing to pay rent. It can add security to the arrangement in the case that something goes wrong.

    You may think that being related to the tenants of the home absolves you of your responsibilities as a landlord, but this is not the case and you’ll still need to take your obligations as a landlord seriously even in a scenario where you’re letting to someone you already know well.

    Letting to family members FAQs

    Do I have to pay tax if I rent to family? 

    Yes, you will still need to pay tax. There are no tax exemptions for renting to family.

    If your family is on universal credit, are you able to rent to them?

    You are able to rent to a family member who receives universal credit or benefits if you do not live with them and have a legally binding tenancy agreement.

    Do I have to charge my family rent?

    You do not have to charge your family rent, but it is important to be aware of the restrictions and implications of letting family live in your property rent free. You will still be responsible for the management and upkeep of the property. It can be helpful to still draw up an agreement.

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