The demand for flats is so high in some areas, that it makes sense to consider splitting a property into flats for added return on investment (ROI). Splitting a property into flats can increase not only your ROI when it comes to rental income, but also additional profits upon selling the titles.

So, how do you go about making the decision to split your property into flats, and what the process entails? 

A row of properties with development potential over looking a river

Firstly, know your market

It may seem like a no-brainer, but the viability of splitting one larger property into separate dwellings will depend upon the area and market that it sits within. If the plan isn’t in keeping with the demands in the area, it could end up costing you more money than you make from it.

It is essential, therefore, to take the time to accurately assess the demand for flats in the property’s area, and in particular the volume and rate at which similar flats are rented out at. Typically, locations with greater demand for flats will also command higher rental values for them.

It can help to consult with local estate agents to gain additional insights. It is useful to pay particular attention to the types of properties that are selling fast, as well as any up-and-coming regeneration plans that may increase demand in the area.

Obviously, if larger properties are struggling to be let, while smaller properties are flying off the rental listings like hot cakes, you have a very clear indication that splitting your property could well be a profitable option.

A person working out some elements of a project

Planning and legalities

Once you have determined that the redevelopment should be well supported by the market, it’s time to get planning and make sure that all the legal requirements are addressed.

Splitting a property into separate flats requires planning permission. You will need to contact the local planning department within the area the property is located and apply for planning permission. 

Some areas stipulate specific regulations regarding such things as energy efficiency, fire safety, soundproofing, minimum parking availability and minimum individual flat sizes. If you haven’t yet committed to purchasing the property to be developed, it pays to check with the local authority regarding these regulations before signing on the dotted line.

Once you receive the planning permissions, you can then apply for Building Regulations. This must all take place before any building works commence.

It is also imperative that you consult with a solicitor to determine whether there are any legal implications that could stand in the way of your redevelopment plans. Should you need to access any secured funds at any point, your lender will need to be consulted as well. You will find that some mortgage lenders are more open to working with people seeking to redevelop than others, so you may need to shop around for the best fit.

A recently converted roof area of a property

Designing the flats

Once you have worked through these steps, it’s time to consider some of the renovation details. Important design factors to consider include:

  • Dwelling size - research the most popular configurations in the area to determine the best way to separate each flat. Are one or two bedroom flats in more demand? What is the average size of a flat in the area and how closely can your property provide similar dimensions?
  • Layout - as well as researching popular layouts in the area, consider how best you can divide the property to achieve the greatest amount of usable floor space for each flat.
  • Accessibility - not only will each flat require its own private entry point, but also consider proximity and access to car parking, and whether any gardens or patios will be private or communal, and how they will be accessed. Some added extras to consider could include provisions for disability access, bike racks, etc.
  • Utility services - Each individual flat will require its own utility services, such as water, electricity and gas supplies. The installation and activation of these services can easily stall completion dates, so as soon as you start planning your development, get these services booked in. An individual boiler and central heating system will also be required for each flat.
  • Major plumbing works - Splitting a property into flats usually requires adding more kitchens and bathrooms to the property, so be sure to factor in the extent of plumbing works required to achieve this. 

Taxation 

Tax liabilities can significantly impact the bottom line after such large renovations, so it pays to get advice from a specialist adviser or accountant to ascertain a clear picture of what to expect. The amount of tax that you will pay will depend upon whether you intend to sell the flats upon completion, or rent them out first. It is possible for you to also benefit from living in one of the flats initially, so discuss these options too.

Property management

Once you have divided the property up, you will be responsible for managing multiple properties, which may be new to you. Property management is increasingly handled online these days, using property management software. With automation and instant, accurate information greatly assisting in the smooth running of property management, allowing for ease of scalability, too.

Final thoughts

Splitting a property into individual flats can certainly be a great way to increase your profits, but not in every case, so it’s vital to do your homework first. Find a solid estate agent to work with, consult with local planning departments, solicitors, accountants and tax specialists before diving in head first.

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