Posted on

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.

Posted on

Student House Viewings – What To Look For

Trying to find the right student house can be stressful.  So many viewings in such a short space of time can leave you unsure of what it is you’re actually looking for.  And so, here at Mistoria Estate Agents, we’ve devised a helpful list of things to bear in mind during student house viewings

  • Furniture – What comes with the house?  Most student accommodation will come equipped with the basics – beds, sofas, wardrobes etc.  But what about white goods?  Will you need to buy your own toaster and kettle?  What about a bookcase sturdy enough for all your textbooks?  And don’t forget the TV!
  • Location Location Location – Have an idea in mind for where you want to live to narrow down your property search.  Would you rather be closer to the university or further afield where it’s quieter?  Remember to consider transport costs – if you find a house that isn’t within walking distance, you will most likely have to buy an annual bus pass.  Ask yourself, does the area feel safe?  We recommend Googling the street to double check. 
  • Security – Every landlord is legally obligated to make sure their property is as safe as possible.  This includes both fire safety and security measures to prevent burglaries.  Student houses are notorious for being break-in targets, so it’s definitely worth making sure you choose a house that measures up in terms of security.  We’re talking locks on windows, multiple locks on the doors and outside lights.  If you find a house you love that doesn’t feel secure enough, you are well within your rights to demand an security upgrade from your landlord.  There’s nothing worse than coming home to find your laptop (and with it, all your coursework) missing!
  • Price Rent is obviously one of the first things students consider when choosing a house but what about other costs?  Does the rent include any bills?  What about internet costs? And don’t forget food!  Rent won’t be the only thing coming out of your account every month so remember to add up the total costs and figure out a hypothetical budget when considering whether or not you can afford a place.
  • Housemates One of the best things about a student house as opposed to halls is the communal aspect.  A good sized living room and kitchen is essential if you plan to spend a lot of time with your housemates or hold a lot of parties.  A garden may also come in handy for the summer.  However, remember that things don’t always go smoothly!  One bathroom between five may cause early-morning fights, and if it turns out you can’t stand your housemate’s taste in TV, you may want to avoid the living room, so make sure to choose a bedroom you don’t mind spending a lot of time in if necessary.
Posted on

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.

Posted on

Student Accommodation FAQs

So, you’re looking for your first student house and everything is a little bit overwhelming.  There’s so much to consider and loads of new jargon to wrap your head around.  What’s a deposit?  What’s a holding fee?  Do I need to pay them both?  And what’s this NLA I’ve been hearing so much about?  Don’t panic!  Sit back, relax, and check out Mistoria’s Student Accommodation FAQs…

  • What is a guarantor and why do I need one? 
  • A guarantor is a third party (usually a parent or legal guardian) who guarantees that your rent will be paid.  Your guarantor will need to sign a form to confirm that, should you fail to pay the rent, they will pay the landlord on your behalf.  Basically, they act as a safety net, since most students cannot be 100% trusted with their funds!
  • What is a deposit and will I get it back?
  • Your deposit is there to ensure that you take care of your property.  Most landlords will ask for approximately a month’s rent as a deposit, and given that the property is not damaged, you will get this money back at the end of your tenancy.  Bear this in mind during your stay and work together to keep the property in a reasonable condition – it’s a lot of money to lose for one person’s careless behaviour. Also remember that your landlord is obligated by law to place your deposit in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme. Always ask your landlord which scheme they’re using in order to make sure your money is safe.
  • What is a holding fee?
  • A holding fee guarantees that the property is yours if you want it – the landlord will stop holding viewings and it gives you some extra time between viewing the property and signing the contracts to get things in order.  However, holding fee policy differs from landlord to landlord.  Some do not accept a holding fee, while others will require one.  Some will take the holding fee amount out of your deposit, and others will consider it an additional payment.  Make sure you know where your prospective landlord stands on holding fees, especially if you’ve found a house you love.
  • Who pays the bills?
  • While some properties come with bills included, usually it is up to the students to pay.  Make sure each of you keep some money aside for bills every month, and work out a system to split the cost.  To keep your bills as low as possible, check out the efficiency rating of every house you view – the more efficient the property, the lower your bills will be.
  • What about internet or TV?
  • Again, this differs from property to property.  Remember that internet is essential for uni work, so if it’s not included, make arrangements ASAP to avoid any problems at the start of term.  Discuss with your flatmates whether or not you need a TV.  On the one hand it can encourage the group to be more sociable, but remember that a TV will require a TV license – another additional cost.
  • What’s the NLA?
  • When looking for student accommodation, you may have come across the phrase “NLA registered”, meaning that the landlord is registered with the National Landlords Assosiation and therefore more reputable.  If possible, it is always recommended that students choose an NLA registered landlord to ensure that they are protected.
Posted on

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!

Posted on

Why a house share is a great idea

Right now the number of people living in shared homes is increasing month on month, mainly because so many of us have been priced out of the market when it comes to buying a property, but there are both financial and personal reasons why people house share.

Why rent in a house share?

1) Moving Area

If your job or another reason is taking you to a new area, a house share can be a great short term solution before you get settled and find out where you want to live. Some people house share with this intention but it becomes long term accommodation. Also if you don’t know anyone in your new area a house share offers some instant friendships and companionship.

2) Leaving Home

Some people can’t wait to leave home and others are more nervous. With a house share you have the independence and responsibility of your own place, but also some house mates to have fun with.

3) Lonely

Some people love their own company, but for others it can be extremely lonely so choose to house share.

4) Cost

We’re all affected by the economy and House Shares are an extremely financially attractive living solution. At Mistoria Estate Agents we have house shares with fully inclusive rents. This means everything is included, right down to the linen on your beds.

Living in a house share is usually much cheaper than renting your own place. You still have your own bedroom (which has a lock so plenty of privacy) but the bathroom, kitchen and living room are communal areas. Effectively by sharing you split the cost of these extra rooms. By sharing it’s often possible to live in a better property or in a better area than you could afford on your own.