Through 2021, we’ll be taking you through the alphabet of property-related terms, explaining what they are and how they’re relevant to you, as a landlord. This month:
‘Asbestos’ refers to a group of naturally occurring minerals that have crystallised to form fibres. It was regularly used in construction between the 1950s and 1980s, primarily because of its fire-resistant properties, but was banned by the UK Government in 1999 after it was proven to be potentially very dangerous.
Although not considered harmful when intact, if asbestos is damaged and the fibres are ingested into the human body, it can cause diseases of the lungs and chest, including cancer.
Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006, you have a duty to minimise your tenants’ risk of exposure to asbestos and it is specifically listed as a hazard in the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
If you had a Homebuyer Report or Building Survey when you bought the property, that should have picked up if there was any asbestos present. However, if you are unsure and the property was built prior to 1999, it may be wise to have an asbestos survey. If it is present but is completely intact, it may simply need to be labelled and monitored, however, if there is any damage or risk of disturbance, it should be removed by a professional specialist.
See the HSE’s guide to managing asbestos in buildings.
A broker is an intermediary between a client and a mortgage or other product/service provider. In Buy to Let, it’s advisable to use a mortgage broker, as it’s a specialist area and an experienced broker will be able to help identify the best products for your particular circumstances, some of which might not be available if you were to go direct to the lender yourself. Importantly, they know how to progress your application as quickly and smoothly as possible with the lender. Brokers can also be very useful over the longer term, keeping you appraised of appropriate new deals and helping you refinance at the most beneficial times.
While some brokers are ‘tied’ to a specific panel of lenders, independent brokers can access every product in the market. The most important thing is that the broker you choose is able to deal with the best lender for you. The more specialist your needs, the more important it is to have tailored advice – for example, if you need an Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) mortgage, a broker who deals exclusively or mainly with HMO financing can be a huge help.
You should be aware that most brokers are paid commission by lenders and one may be more financially beneficial for them than another, but they are legally required to be transparent about this, so it’s very rare to have a conflict of interest.