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Out with the old and in with the new for student property landlords

At this time of year, many student property landlords will be readying themselves for their current tenants to vacate their properties as the academic year and letting contracts come to an end.

This transition should run smoothly but unfortunately for many it can be a difficult process.  Each year at this time, the battle between student landlords and tenants is waged over the state properties are left in.  Many landlords are left with properties that have been unkept and require all manner of cleaning, maintenance and repair work and replacement furniture.  Student property landlords are relaistic and do expect a certain amount of wear and tear but where obvious damage has been inflicted on a property or its content, costs must be expected.

Returning deposits

Here is where the inital deposit that is put down at the beginning of a tenancy comes into play.  Landlords will deduct the cost of any cleaning and repairs from the deposit and issue any remaining funds back to the tenant.  This enivitably causes friction as each side agrues their case for who is to blame for the condition of the property.

Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous landlords who withhold deposits or try to claim damage exists where there is none and students can be left out of pocket.  Of course, criminal action can be taken in extreme cases but much of this discrepancy can be avoid by ensuring a full inventory is carried out at the beginning of a tenancy.  Landlord and tenant will both sign a form stating the condition and contents of a property.  If there is any existing damage or items missing, this should be clearly marked on the inventory.  Both landlord and tenant are encouraged not to sign an inventory if they are not fully happy that all items or current imperfections are stated on the document.

If you are a student property landlord and are carrying out any repair or maintenance work on your property over the summer break, Mistoria’s renovatation, furnishing and maintenance teams can help you.  From minor repairs, through to full-scale renovation projects our fully qualified and experienced trades-men will carry out the necessary work on time, to budget and to the highest possible standard.  Furniture packages are also available that comprise of blinds and floor coverings, a range of white goods as well as beds, sofas, desks and soft funishings like cushions, curtains and lamps.

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Freehold and Leasehold explained

Two of the most important terms to understand when buying a home are freehold and leasehold.

Freehold

These days, most houses in the UK are sold freehold.  This means that you own the property and the land it stands on.  With a freehold property you are free to do as you wish with it (with the local planning regulations) and you bear sole responsibility for its upkeep.  The control and authority which comes with a freehold property, of course, comes with a price – freehold properties tend to be more expensive than leasehold properties.  But once that money’s paid, the house is yours to do with what you wish.

Advantages:
– The property is yours.
– You are able to make any changes that comply with the local planning regulations.
– Should you wish to sell, the property will be worth more than it would if you were selling a leasehold property.

Disadvantages:
– Freehold properties are often more expensive.
– Any issues which arise are your problems to deal with, and you are solely responsible for the property’s upkeep.

Leasehold

With a leasehold, rather than purchasing the property itself, you purchase the right to live within that property for a certain amount of time – anywhere between 90 and 900 years.  If and when you sell, you sell your right, and the leasehold countdown continues.  For example, if you bought a leasehold property with a tenancy of 100 years, and sold 10 years later, the new buyer would have a leasehold of the remaining 90 years.

Most flats or apartments are leasehold but houses can be leasehold too.  When buying a leasehold, you are buying your share of the building and the space within it but not the structure, building, or land itself, which belongs to the freeholder.  An agreement will be drawn up between the tenant and the landlord to determine responsibility in terms of property maintenance, upkeep, repairs, insurance and the like.

When buying a leasehold property you are also required to pay an annual rent to the freeholder, for your share of the property.

Advantages:
– Leasehold properties are usually cheaper than freeholds.
– Maintenance and upkeep of the property id usually the landlords responsibility
– Insurance is sometimes included in maintenance costs.

Disadvantages:
– Additional costs such as maintenance fees and annual rent.
– Solicitors often charge higher rates when dealing with leaseholds.

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The Deposit Protection Scheme – Keeping Your Money Safe

Deposits can be a scary thing.  You’re handing over a large sum of money to someone you barely know, and trusting that you’ll get it back.  Unfortunately, landlords have broken this trust in the past, which is why in 2007, the Government introduced tenancy protection laws in the UK.  These laws mean that landlords are obliged to place your deposit within a deposit protection scheme to keep it safe until you get it back.

The schemes are government run, meaning they’re completely reputable and trustworthy.  The four schemes available to landlords are:

Each of these websites contains a tool which, as a tenant, you can use to double check that your deposit is protected.  Your landlord is also legally obligated to tell you which deposit protection scheme they are using and how you can apply to get your deposit back.  For a full list of landlord responsibilities regarding your deposit, and to check your landlord isn’t keeping any important information from you, follow the link here.

So what if your landlord hasn’t used a deposit protection scheme?  Well, the four aforementioned websites all offer help and advice for such an event.  The official government website on deposit protection also recommends contacting a county court, who may demand that the landlord repay you the deposit or pay it into a scheme within two weeks.

Moving house is stressful enough without the added anxiety of what your new landlord may be doing with your deposit, so keep your mind at ease by making sure your money is stored away in a reputable deposit protection scheme.  It’s the law!