One of the most exciting elements of property development is the prospect of converting a property into a block of flats.
The practice is becoming increasingly popular, especially in larger cities. And even more so when they have a high population of young professionals and students such as London, Oxford, Cambridge and Bath. Splitting up a property can secure you a very profitable short-term rental income, as well as future capital gain if you decide to sell.
Are you planning to invest in a block of flats conversion? Then here’s what you need to consider before you start.
Before you start hunting for the perfect property, you need to find the right area. This will involve a lot of research on the current rental market and future re-development sites. For example, new Crossrail links will transform the transport infrastructure of London, and increase commutability to the Capital. The areas that this affects will appeal to renters, so these areas would be ideal for a block of flats conversion.
You’ll then need to apply for Planning Permission. As you are intending to change the use of the building and turn them into separate living units. You’ll need to apply for Building Regulations as well as Planning Permission.
This covers structural changes such as putting up walls, installing bathrooms, kitchens and central heating. It also covers separate services supplies (gas, electricity, water, drainage) and utility meters for each unit.
You’ll need to contact your local authority to find out if your block of flats qualifies for a house of multiple occupation (HMO). If so, you’ll have to apply for an HMO licence, which covers extra legal responsibilities for landlords. Read our article for more information on houses of multiple occupation.
A new building that has been purpose built as a block of flats isn’t considered an HMO. However, converting house into flats may be regarded as an HMO.
Be aware though that each local authority seems to set its own standards and regulations in regard to HMOs. Even if your block of flats isn’t considered an HMO by them, they may apply other licensing and regulations. It’s always best to check with your local authority to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.
Once the conversion is complete, you’ll also need to consider what type of buildings insurance you’ll need. Insurers consider two or more flats in the same building as a ‘block’. Leaseholders or tenants will most probably have their own insurance in place. However, it’s highly advisable to take out specialist Block of Flats insurance to convert a house into flats.
Block of flats insurance covers the entire block and offers more cover than regular building insurance. This can include fixtures & fittings, rent cover, rent guarantee and public and employer’s liability. Our article on Block of Flats insurance explains the differences in cover.