Posted on

Tenancy deposits: what can and cannot be deducted

tenancy deposits

Every year there are the same disputes between landlords or agents and their tenants about what can and cannot be deducted from a tenancy deposit.

The issue of ‘wear and tear’ is the main cause for such fallouts with both sides beliving the other has flouted the fairness rule.

A statement from the House of Lords says a tenant cannot be held responsible for damage at the end of a tenancy caused by ‘reasonable use of the premises and the ordinary operation of natural forces’.  Most in the lettings industry follow this ethos but where do the boundaries between wear and tear and damage lie?

Cleaning is usually the biggest grey area but it’s quite simple; if it was clean when you moved in, it should be clean when you move out.  This doesn’t mean every teaney tiny speck of dirt needs to be removed from the oven, of course some marks will appear throughout the year from regular use – this will fall under the wear and tear or natural forces umberella – but a filthy oven that has clearly never seen a cleaning product in its life is a chargable expense.

Similarly, redecoration in another area of dispute.  Marks and scuffs on the walls are going to occur, as are slight scratches to internal door.  These are all common traits of every day use.  Great big scratches, gouges and damage to walls and doors from unauthorised screws, nails and pins are not and are therefore paid for at the expense of the outgoing tenant.

Blatant damage to the property and its fixtures and fittings is pretty clear cut.  A broken banister, stained or burnt carpet, dints in doors or electrical items, cracked window panes or tiles are not examples of wear and tear.  Whether accidential or deliberate, the tenant has caused damage to these items, greater than would be expected from general use.  Replacements or the cost of repairing such damage will be deducted from a tenants deposit.  In a student house, any damage in communal areas; the kitchen, lounge, bathroom, hall ways or stairs etc, will be split equally between each housemate.  Damage to bedrooms will come from the individuals deposit.

Missing items or leaving undue amounts of rubbish at the property, including the garden, at the end of a tenancy will also result in deductions from a depositas replacements or clean-up work is required.

In short, tenants have a duty of care to return a property in the same condition at the end of the tenancy as found at the start and as listed on the initial inventory report – with allowance for fair wear and tear.  But communication between both sides is vital.  If there’s a problem or fault in the property at any time during the tenancy, the tenant must inform the landlord or agent immediately.  A swift solution can be found and hopefully prevent the situation getting worse.  All parties being present at check-in and check-out will also avoid any unnecessary problems.

At Mistoria Estate Agents, we are a professional letting agent and will ensure the correct procedure is followed when it comes to dealing with tenancy deposits and any deductions.  We will do this on behalf of our landlords, taking the stress and responsibility away from them.  This is all covered in our property management contracts.  For the tenant, we will ensure your deposit is stored in an approved deposit protection scheme and endeavour to return as much of it back to you an the end of your tenancy as possible.  Only what is absolutely necessary will be deducted.

If you have any further questions relation to our tenancy deposit procedure please call us 0n 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoriaestateagents.co.uk

Posted on

PRESS ARTICLE: North East and North West offer best buy-to-let yields

property_reporter_logo

Investors looking for top buy-to-let yields are better off heading North as returns are stronger, according to a quarterly index.

While London house prices have risen more than anywhere else, the city has the lowest rental yields for prospective buyers, according to BM Solutions. Property investors buying in central London – travel zones one and two – will receive an average of 5.5% annual return from rents, while in the outer zones, this rises slightly to 5.9 per cent.

The index shows the average UK rental yield stood at 6.2% between April and June 2014.

According to The Mistoria Group, leading investment specialists in student property, investors need to head to the North West and North East to beat the national average, where yields sit on average at 6.4%.

Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group comments:

“The BBC’s move to Salford has created a lot of interest in the area and this, coupled with the planned expansion of Manchester and Liverpool area, is good news for buy-to-let investors in the North West. Property values in the Greater Manchester city of Salford and Liverpool have risen faster than in any other town in Britain since the start of 2014.

“The North West offers buy-to-let landlords a multitude of affordable properties that will give net returns of up to 10%. For example, an investor can buy a HMO student let property close to a university that has been fully refurbished and furnished, and that is already tenanted for the coming year, for less than £150,000. This will give investors annual net returns of 9%.

“By choosing the right property and the right agent, investors can sit back and after years of working for their money, can finally see their money working for them. So if investors want top yields, they should avoid London and head north.”

Retiree, Joy Townley from Calne, Wiltshire recently bought two investment properties in Salford through The Mistoria Group:

“I decided that property was the right choice for me because of the current low interest rates and I wanted a better return on my capital. I live in the South West of England where property is extremely expensive. Buying investment property in this part of the country was out of the question and the North West is a growing market. The numbers just added up and I am enjoying a consistent income stream. I’ll be keeping hold of the properties for the long term.”

This article first appeared on Property Reporter on 29th August 2014

Posted on

Maintaining your student let during the summer break

Maintaining your student let

If you’re a student landlord, you’ll appreciate that properties which are left empty for long periods of time can be a big headache.  Students go home regularly, at the end of every term and during the long summer break, leaving their student let empty for weeks and sometimes even months at a time.  For this reason, student lets need more attention from the landlord than any other type of buy-to-let property to ensure they are safe and secure.  Luckily, Mistoria Estate Agents can help you by managing and maintaining your student let.

Frequent visits

Regular inspections will ensure the property is well kept and not misused.  As part of our landlord agreement, we will visit your student let regularly, on your behalf.  These visits will also give us the opportunity to check for any wear and tear damage and identify any areas that my need some work, immediately or in the future, to help maintain the overall condintion of the property.

If we know a property is going to be empty for more than a few weeks (we ask tenants to inform us of long periods of absence) we will endeavour to visit to ensure the house is safe and secure.  Student areas can be hotspots for burglars, especially during the holidays and the long summer break.  To help avoid break-ins and costly damages to you the landlord, we ask tenants to take with them (or at least hide from view) any laptops, tablets, games consoles and other high-value, desirable items and gadgets.  We also encourage content insurance, even for student tenants.

Security and fire alarms

A working security alarm is vital in any property, and will often be the diffence between your insurance company paying out or not, should the worse happen.  The visual presence of a burglar alarm box fitted to the front of a house could be enough to deter a would-be intruder.   When a house is uninhabited, the risk of fire is increased.  With nobody home to notice or put out a small fire, smoke and fire alarms are the most reliable way detect hazards.

Repairs

Long periods of absence, like summer holidays, are the ideal time to fix any problems in your student let.  Even general wear and tear repairs that don’t seem too serious at the moment will gradually get worse, and end up costing you more in the long run.  Our experienced team will review your property at the beginning of the summer and ensure any repair work is carried out using our trusted sister company Mistoria Maintenance.  And with the property empty for at least a few months, this will give us enough time to complete even the bigger, more intensive repair work.

As student landlords ourselves we understand the pressures and responsibilities you face.  By appointing us as your property management team we can do the hard work for you, leaving you to relax in the knowledge that your property investment and tenants are in the best possible hands.  For more information on how we can be of service, please contact the Mistoria Estate Agents team on 0800 500 3015 or info@mistoriaestateagents.co.uk

Posted on

PRESS ARTICLE: Soaring rents force young to ‘hutch up’

Todays-landlord-logo

The amount of young professionals squeezing into smaller accommodation has risen as a result of UK rent reportedly reaching an all-time high.

According to leading student property investment specialists, The Mistoria Group, ‘hutching up’ involves young people squeezing into smaller accommodation to meet soaring rental costs.

Mistoria has seen a 15 per cent rise in the number of young professionals in the North East renting self-contained rooms in HMOs, to save money over the last 12 months.

Once assumed to be a London trend, now all across the UK, flats, houses and HMOs, young people are forced to share accommodation and squeeze into small rooms with affordable rental charges, in order to live independently.

Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group, said: “While many young people dream of having a place of their own, the fact it is that many have to live in over-crowded accommodation.

We have seen lots of young professionals take on our student lets – mainly a room in a HMO, with a shared kitchen and sitting room. They are finished to a very high standard and require just £80-£110 a week, including all bills, and require just a £200 deposit and £100 admin fee per tenant.

Mish added: “Many young professionals ask themselves, is it better to share a house in the right part of town close to work and leisure facilities, than rent a flat in a less desirable but more affordable out of town location? For many, not having to set up electric, gas, broadband and TV accounts or pay council tax and find £000’s in deposit and first month’s rent, is a massive thumbs up for their wallets. Having the luxury of being able to budget, without having fluctuating monthly bills, has all contributed to the rise of hutching.”

This article first appeared on Today’s Landlord on 11th August 2014.

Posted on

Mistoria Estate Agents ‘Guide to your First Student House’

First Student House

As the final countdown is now set in motion until A-Level results day, a back to school feel is in the air.

Once you know which university you will be attending this autumn you have to start thinking about all the formalities that go with it. On the top of your list? Finding a suitable accommodation for the school year.

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by all the new responsibilities that come with being a student. Mistoria Estate Agents can lift a weight off your shoulders by helping you through the process of finding your first student house.

Our handy ‘Guide to your First Student House’ can help save you time and money on the daunting process of finding student accommodation that is right for you.

Covering the main dos and don’ts, this free student property guide covers the key points you need to think about when renting your first student house.

You will find advice and information covering what you should be looking for according to your needs and preferences, landlord obligations, budgeting and keeping your bills down. Handy move in and move out check-lists and a glossary of terms you might come across along the way are also included.

 

Download our Guide to your First Student House

Posted on

Moving to new student accommodation

student accommodation

With just a week to go until A-Level results day (on Thursday 14th August), the prospect of moving to university and into student accommodation is looming for many.

Whether you’re heading off to uni for the first time in September or you’re a returning student, the same rules apply when moving from one property to another.  Below are some top tips for a successful and stress-free moving day!

 

FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL

Use a professional removals company
If you’re planning on taking a lot of belongings with you to uni, you’re going to need more removal space than mum and dad’s car!  A professional removals service (such as Mistoria Spotless) is your best bet for ensuring your items will be transported smoothly and safely.  This is especially worth considering if you are moving into unfurnished student accommodation and you are taking your bed and other bulky furniture with you.   Other benefits of using a professional removal company include you and your helpers (i.e. mum and dad) not having to do the heavy lifting and negotiating any stairs.  Reserving a parking space for your removals company might also be useful.

Pack in advance of moving day
If you’re packing yourself, give yourself plenty of time.  Start a few days before and aim to do a few boxes each night.  Pack anything fragile carefully in bubblewrap, old clothing, sheets or towels to pad and protect the items.  Label boxes with what room they belong to, or according to contents to make distributing and unpacking at the other end easier.  A decent removals company will also help with packing.  Mistoria Spotless can dismantle your furnitre and re-build it again for you once in your new student accommodation – that saves dad battling with a screwdriver for hours!

 

THINGS TO DO IN YOUR OLD STUDENT ACCOMMODATION

Meter readings

If you’re moving from one student accommodation to the next, make sure you get a final meter reading from all your meteres before you leave.  Call your suppliers and tell them the figures so you can pay any outstanding money and close the account.  Failing to do this could result in a dispute with your landlord or agent, not to mention added stress that you just don’t need!

Pack a weekend bag
No, we’re not suggesting you go on a mini break and forget all about packing your belongings.  Packing a bag with some fresh clothes, toiletries, pyjamas and other personal items for the first night/next day will be a life saver.  This simple tip could save you a lot of wasted time opening box after box looking for your toothpaste!

Pack an essentials box
As above, you don’t want to be rummaging around in all your boxes to find your phone charger or the kettle as soon as you arrive at the new place.  An essentials box with kettle, cups, spoon, coffee, tea, milk, sugar, toilet roll, snacks, phone charger will be the best box you can pack.  Consider including other practical items such as pens, scissors, sellotape, and even takeaway menus for the new house – who wants to cook on moving day?!  Ensure this box travels with you and isn’t packed away with everything else.

Final checks and clean
Leave your old house clean and tidy for the new tenants.  Not only is this polite, but it could mean the difference between recieving 100% of your deposit back or not.  If your landlord or letting agent has to employ a professional cleaning service after you have left or pay for any repairs, the cost will come out of your deposit.  Whilst you are cleaning, this could be a good chance to have a proper spring clean and sort through your belongings.  This will save you the time and effort of packing and moving items that you no longer want or need. Remember to dispose of any unwanted items responsibly.

 

THINGS TO DO IN YOUR NEW STUDENT ACCOMMODATION

Make up your new beds in the new house first

Do this first and then later on when you’re tired and have had enough you can fall straight into bed!

Order an online food shop delivery
This could be a life line. You’ve got no time to factor in a food shop during a busy moving day so order ahead of time and arrange for a food shop to be delivered to your new address.  You’ll thank yourself later, as will your hungry and thirsty helpers!

Meter readings
As when you left your old property, take readings from all your meters and call the suppliers with the numbers.  This will ensure services don’t get cut off and if there are outstanding balances from the previous tenants, you aren’t the one footing the bill!

Say hello to your neighbours
Fellow students or regular folk, introducing yourself to and being friendly with the neighbours can make or break your time in your student accommodation.  Good neighbours can keep an eye on things when you’re on holiday or at home for the weekend, Christmas or the summer.  Plus, it’s just nice to be friendly and make an effort with the neighbours.

Posted on

PRESS ARTICLE: Investors could face costly mistakes if they go solo

student property investment

New research reveals that property investment is the preferred method of investment for generating returns for 40% of Britons and over half (55%) would consider playing an active role in managing their investments. (Source: YouGov survey amongst 2,000 British adults commissioned by spreadbetting provider InterTrader).

The survey also reveals that 38% of respondents say they do not trust financial professionals to generate positive returns with their money. However, according to Mistoria Group, leading student property investment specialists, investors could face costly mistakes if they ’go it alone’ managing their investments.

The firm is urging investors to consider carefully whether they can manage their investment and all the compliance requirements that go with it. Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group explains: “Whilst it is well recognised that a good property investment can bring better returns than stocks, shares and pensions, the key question is how much control should you take in managing your investment – or is it wise to leave it to the experts?

“Investors need to be up-to-date with all the latest legislation and fully understand their responsibilities as a landlord. There is a huge amount of paperwork and if you get it wrong, you could face severe penalties. For example, if you don’t have HMO or selective licenses in properties which need them, you could be liable for a fine up to £20,000. In addition, breaking any of the licence conditions can result in fines of up to £5,000.

“Another important consideration is that if you want to purchase the right investment property, regardless of its location in relation to where you are based, you can do this as an ‘armchair investor’. You can take advantage of some of the best yields across the UK, for example student accommodation in the North West, with the help of the right property investment firm.

“The secret to a successful ‘armchair’ investment is to work with the right partners. It is important to buy from a developer with a proven track record; use a letting agent that specialises in the rental sector you are looking to be in eg student, residential, DSS, commercial or retail. Each of these is a specialist field and if not undertaken by an experienced agent, can lead to the failure of a potentially good investment.

“If the property investment is to provide an extra income or a pension, it is best to use an agent. But if you want to be a full time investor, and have the time to do so, go it alone. Whatever you do, make sure you carry out thorough research, before making any decisions on how you will manage your investment.

“Agents will charge between 10%-15% to find tenants and manage your property portfolio. But in the case of student lets, it is usually only 1%-1.5% of the total yield, still leaving a very healthy 9-10% return on investment each year.

“If you have an agent looking after your property, all you have to do is check your bank account to make sure your investment yield has paid. You won’t have to worry about obtaining the correct licenses and keeping them up to date; paying utilities; organising repairs; resolving tenant complaints; chasing rent arrears; and providing the annual gas, electricity and PAT certificates.”

This article first appeared on MoveWorldWide.net on 6th Auguest 2014

Posted on

PRESS ARTICLE: Investment warning over student pods

let-ag-today

A student-sector investment specialist is warning landlords to avoid being taken in by the alleged income and capital potential of so-called student pods. Mish Liyanage, chief executive of the Mistoria Group property investment firm, admits that the sales pitch for a student pod is initially highly seductive. “For a relatively modest cash price, you get a stake in the property market in a top university town and a guaranteed income – all without the hassle of having to manage a buy-to-let” he says.

Liyanage claims the vast majority of student pods have been sold at a premium with staggered purchase payments and guaranteed yields for anything up to 10 years.

But as student pods are not considered to be individual properties and therefore cannot be bought using a mortgage, investors will not be able to take advantage of the traditional buy to let mortgage products.

In addition, with most pods being bought off-plan there is no information for the prospective investor about the quality of management of the pod after completion, nor the size and conditions of service charges.

As traditional letting agents are rarely used to manage purpose-built student accommodation, this presents investors with a leap of faith.

“Another concern is the ‘rental guarantee’ offered by developers. This can often be an overstatement. The guaranteed rents are attractive to investors, but often they fail to materialise. I believe that investors are actually subsidising the guaranteed rent by paying an inflated price for the unit they secure” says Liyanage.

He also claims that whereas with a ‘normal’ buy to let investment an investor can sell the property at any time on the open market – often with capital appreciation – student pods present more difficulties.

Pods are typically leasehold so are a diminishing asset; they are highly-priced compared to almost any other type of residential unit on a price-per-square-foot basis; and they have no established resale market – capital appreciation, even in a rising market, is not guaranteed.

This article first appeared on Letting Agent Today on 5th August 2014.

Posted on

All Inclusive Student Housing

2 Students Mistoria Estate Agents

With water, gas and electric bills increasing year on year, we prefer to offer “All Inclusive” bills in our student housing.

You may be more accustomed to hearing the phrase ‘all inclusive’ when it comes holidays.  The price you pay will include your flight, hotel, food, drink and activities.  Our all inclusive student housing work along the same principles, but instead of two weeks by the beach your monthly rental payment will include your accommodation, utility bills, broadband, rental of white goods such as your washing machine and dishwasher, fixtures and fittings and some electrical goods like a plasma TV.

The all inclusive rent option is ideal for a student housing.  It’s a straight forward and less complicated way of paying.  For most of our student tenants this is their first time away from home and the hassle and responsibility of paying and keeping up with bills can be somewhat overwhelming.  It also prevents any unnecessary falling out with fellow house mates when it comes to dividing the bills.

At Mistoria Estate Agents we believe our all inclusive rents are transparent and give you the peace of mind that there will be no hidden costs.

All inclusive rents are also appealing to landlords as they have the reassurance that there will be no outstanding bills at the end of a tenancy. It also helps retain good tenants, many are unlikely to move to a different property where they have to organise their own bill payments and keep track of how much they owe each month.

David Cox, senior policy officer at the National Landlords Association says,

“All-inclusive rents can be very appealing to tenants, so landlords who offer these can have the edge over those who don’t. Students prefer all-inclusive rents as these reduce the number of things to worry about when they move in to their first rental property.”

Please take a look at our property selection available to rent and if you would like more information, please call 0161 707 6106.