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#AlarmLocksLights – winter home safety tips from GMP

As half-term arrives, many of you will be venturing home for a week or so for some much needed TLC, a homecooked meal and to have your laundry done.  Whilst the prospect of catching up with family and friends that you’ve not seen since the start of term has got you all excited, please follow some simple but important winter home safety tips to make sure your student house remains safe and secure in your absence.

At the beginning of the new term we shared some top tips about keeping safe at uni by Greater Manchester Police.  Since the clocks went back last weekend and the darker nights are now upon us, GMP have issued a new safety campaign, aimed at the general public.  Using the hashtag (#) #AlarmLocksLights as a memorable hook, the advice is simple but effective.

The video below is an example of the tips being shared by GMP.

Burglars target homes that look unoccupied.  Purchase a light timer and set it to come on when you’re out or away for a few days. It will give the impression that someone is in and deter would-be thieves.

Other tips include:

  • setting the alarm EVERY time you go out (day or night) and
  • locking all windows and doors, even when you’re in

At Mistoria Estate Agents, our number one priorty is our tenant’s safety. We provide you with all the home security measures we can to ensure you, your housemates and your posessions are secure but you must do your part as well.  We’re fully behind GMPs campaign and urge all our tenants to adopt the #AlarmLocksLights regime.

Visit www.gmp.police.uk/AlarmLocksLights and follow #AlarmLocksLights on Facebook and Twitter for more winter home safety tips during the dark nights.

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PRESS ARTICLE: Student Accommodation Remains UK’s Leading Investment Markets

Principal-International-logoThe growth and excellent yields available to investors make student accommodation one of the UK’s leading investment opportunities according to a new report.

The research, conducted by Mistoria Group, demonstrated that student property remains an excellent investment option, with larger market growth and rental yields being delivered to investors.

Student Property Investments

The recent surge in university applications, following the removal of the applications cap by the government, has led to a rapid increase in the demand for student accommodation as many universities struggle with a shortage.

Private developments, offering high quality student studio apartments and rooms have become a more significant part of the student property market, with students beginning to favour these developments over the traditional student ‘digs’. The shortage of university-provided accommodation, combined with the growing trend for high quality student developments has helped the student accommodation to continue its growth.

In particular, student properties in the North West have experienced a significant increase, with average rental yields reaching up to 13% over the first three quarters of 2014, substantially more than the UK average of 6.37% that was estimated at the start of this year and standing on average 5-6% higher than the UK’s buy-to-let market.

The strength of the yields and the rate of growth in the student market have led to the rate of investment in the sector dramatically increasing. According to the report, £2 billion was invested in student properties in 2013, demonstrating that investors are continuing to see the student accommodation market as an excellent source of investment.

UK Student Accommodation Investments in the North West

As student properties continue to be an excellent investment opportunity for investors, Principal International is delighted to offer a range of exceptional student property investments located in the fastest growing area in the UK: the North West.

Operational and fully tenanted, The Grand Mill in Bradford offers investors an immediate income of up to 8% NET yield for an investment of just £39,000. This fully managed property investment is located just 0.4 miles from the University of Bradford and Bradford College, making it ideally placed for students in the area.

For a higher yield, Holmes Street Burnley is an off-plan investment that will be completed in time for the start of the 2015/2016 academic year. This development offers investors 10% NET yield which is contractually guaranteed for 5 years, in addition to 5% interest accrued on deposit. This development will be fully managed and stands just 250m from the University College of Football Business, providing accommodation that perfect for those attending the institution.

This article first appeared on Principal International on 29th October 2014.

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PRESS ARTICLE: Student Accommodation Still Among Best Investment Markets for Growth

Student Accommodation Best Investment

Recent research by Mistoria Group, specialists in student property investment, has highlighted the speed of growth in the student property market. The findings of the research also underlined the high level of returns that student property currently tends to deliver, particularly in the North West.

The average rental yield for student properties across the UK this year was previously forecast at 6.37%. However, the report showed that in the North West of England’s student property sector across the first three quarters of this year, rental yields were significantly higher at 13%. Compared to the wider buy-to-let market in the UK at present, student property yields are around 5-6% higher. Between April and June this year, gross rental yields across the whole buy-to-let market showed levels of 6.2%

The report also showed significant growth in the sector, with 8% year-on-year increases for gross cash rental yields on student properties in the North West. Over the past five years, this represents a rise of 22%, making it one of the UK’s fastest-growing investment property markets over that period. It has also shown itself to be an exceptionally healthy market over recent years as a whole. Property values, as well as rental yields, have tended to either remain steady or increase over the past few years.

Mistoria Group managing director Mish Liyanage said that “Investing in student accommodation offers a long-term investment option, as the property is highly likely to be in constant demand throughout the calendar year. Typical rents are significantly higher for student properties than a comparable BTL property in the same city.”

A number of factors lie behind the healthy growth of the student property market. One of them is the demand pressure that comes from a rapidly-growing population of students in the UK. More and more domestic students are applying for university places, and the number of international students coming to the UK is also on the rise. This year, UCAS expect to see a record-breaking half a million applications. The number of university places on offer is also increasing. 2014 saw 30,000 extra places made available by UK institutions.

However, while once students were happy with just about any “digs” they could get their hands on, capturing a slice of today’s demand often requires some commitment to quality. According Mish Liyanage, “Students will pay more for high quality, well-maintained accommodation than for the traditional rundown and neglected shared houses, because there really isn’t a big price difference between poor and high quality accommodation.” Liyanage went on to say that “Our recent research shows us that the vast majority of students want to live in high quality, shared accommodation, with good internet access and affordable bills.”

It seems that investors are increasingly catching onto the opportunity that student property – once something of a niche investment type –can represent. £2 billion were invested in the sector last year, according to the Mistoria Group’s research, and the total volume of activity has risen significantly over the last couple of years.

This article first appeared on NuWire Investor on 27th October 2014.

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Welcome to Mistoria Estate Agents your NW student letting agents

We hope you are settling in and enjoying your new home.

We aim to ensure you are completely satisfied with everything that has been provided in your property. While we are confident that all of our properties are completed to the highest standard, it is understandable that in some cases there may be minor settling in issues.

If you do have any problems which we have still not addressed please contact one of the following members of staff:

NW student letting agents
Mike Howard, Pam Higham and Kye Bennett

The lettings team is made up of Senior Lettings Manager Mike Howard, Senior Lettings Administrator Pam Higham and our Lettings Assistant Kye Bennett.

You can contact any member of the lettings team for general lettings queries during office hours (9:00am-5:00pm, Mon-Fri) on 0161 707 6106 (option 1) or info@mistoria.co.uk, please also send all general maintenance issues through email. For any complaints please contact Mike Howard at the office or by email on mike.howard@mistoria.co.uk.

NW student letting agents
Alex Ashton, April Calderbank and Louise Flynn

Emergency Maintenance – For out-of-hours (evenings and weekends) electrical, gas or plumbing faults, speak to Alex. 07794 913 390

Boardband Issues – All of our properties have a fast, reliable broadband connection. If you experience any problems, let April know so we can get you back online as soon as possible. april.calderbank@mistoriagroup.com

Customer Service – We’re confident all complaints are handled in the correct manner but if you don’t feel this is the case please contact Louise. 07794 927 886 /louise.flynn@mistoriagroup.com

Mistoria are specialist NW student letting agents. We have high quality student accommodation available in the major North West university cities of Liverpool, Preston and Salford. Contact us for more inforamtion or to arrange a viewing. Call 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

We are now conducting viewings for the 2015/16 academic year.

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PRESS ARTICLE: Bad landlords trigger tougher legislation plans

todays-landlord-logo-300x52

Council bosses are considering new rules for landlords after a report highlighted that 85 per cent of private renters think that more should be done to improve living standards.

Camden Council’s report that was released last month found that tenants living in 8,585 HMOs in the area complained of black mould, defective toilets, faulty electric circuits posing electrocution risks, collapsed ceilings and dangerous sleeping quarters.

In the wake of the report finding that 85 per cent of private renters, including 9 of the 12 landlords who responded to the survey, stated more could be done to improve living standards, council bosses are now considering new rules.

These rules include requiring all landlords to apply for a licence before converting any property into a HMO, regardless of its size.

However, it was asked by The Mistoria Group if tougher legislation could actually improve living conditions.

Commenting on the development, Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group said:  “Across the UK, properties are being converted into HMOs by predominantly professional property developers and investors.  However, there are a few HMO landlords that are providing extremely poor and dangerous housing and not a week goes by, without a HMO landlord hitting the headlines.

“In fact, earlier this month a Croydon landlord and agent were fined £3,000 plus £2,500 in court costs, after being found guilty of running an unlicensed HMO, where seven people were rescued from a fire.  They had failed to register the property, which had five paying tenants at the time of the fire.

“Some HMO landlords are also charging tenants excessive fees for non-specific administration including credit checks (which are often not carried out); the lease; inventory preparation; and finally, the check-out.  Due to the supply and demand issues in some areas of the country, landlords can make extra, or inflated charges, because the tenants have no choice if they wish to rent a property.  Students are particularly vulnerable to these bad practices, as they are usually first time renters and are unaware of correct procedures.

“It’s a sad fact that many tenants are getting a raw deal and the problem of rogue HMO landlords is getting worse, as demand for cheap rental property increases across the UK.  The new trend of ‘Hutching Up’, which involves young people squeezing into smaller accommodation to meet soaring rental costs, is driving demand for more HMO properties.

“As a company that fervently believes in providing high quality accommodation, we believe further legislation is a good thing for raising the standards of HMO accommodation.  We also think that landlords and agents who are accredited by their local council should receive a discount when they are applying for HMO and selective licenses.

“We strongly recommend that both landlords and students use a letting agency which has extensive experience in managing HMOs.  This will ensure the properties are maintained as per the legal standards and safety of tenants is guaranteed. The real benefit from landlords is that they can avoid being prosecuted and fined up to £20,000.”

This article first appeared on Today’s Landlord on 20th October 2014.

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PRESS ARTICLE: Agency calls for more HMO legislation

 

letting agent todayA property agency and management firm says there should be more stringent regulations governing homes in multiple occupation with an accreditation scheme for landlords which would entitle them to licensing fee reductions where appropriate.

Mish Liyanage, managing director of The Mistoria Group, says that currently landlords only need to apply for a HMO licence if they intend to convert their property into what he calls a ‘large HMO‘ – defined as a property with at least three storeys wand at least four tenants, all of whom each share toilets, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants.

Such HMOs also require annual certificates for emergency lights, inter locked smoke alarm, along with gas and PAT testing and if applicable, electrical and gas certificates.

However, Liyanage says the new trend of ‘Hutching Up’, which involves young people squeezing into smaller accommodation to meet soaring rental costs, is driving demand for more HMO properties.

“As a company that fervently believes in providing high quality accommodation, we believe further legislation is a good thing for raising the standards of HMO accommodation. We also think that landlords and agents who are accredited by their local council should receive a discount when they are applying for HMO and selective licences” he says.

“Some HMO landlords are also charging tenants excessive fees for non-specific administration including credit checks (which are often not carried out), the lease, inventory preparation and check-out. Due to the supply and demand issues in some areas landlords can make extra, or inflated charges because the tenants have no choice if they wish to rent” claims Liyanage, who says students are particularly vulnerable.

This article first appeared on Letting Agent Today on 17th October 2014.

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Student lettings advice – useful student recipe links

The novelty of midnight takeaways and fast food is probably beginning to wear off by now. After all, there are only so many different flavours of pot noodle.

With winter approaching we are all craving home cooked meals (mainly because we don’t have to cook them ourselves) however living away from home means that you are responsible for your own meals, whether you like it or not.

You are now in charge of your diet and how nutritionally balanced your meals are so don’t just live off quick easy food, make sure you’re eating your greens too! Break the student stereotype and get clued up on what nutrients your body needs. Looking at a guide such as The Eatwell Plate will give you a rough idea of portion sizes for each food group.

Mistoria Estate Agents don’t provide high quality kitchens for them to go to waste. Try out these useful links crammed full of healthy, cheap and easy recipes:

student lettings adviceBBC Good Food

Their student section consists of comforting meals such as pasta bake and sharing dishes such as chicken fajitas, there is something for every occasion. They also provide useful articles on how to kit your kitchen out and extremely basic recipes which are worth a read.

 

Good to know

One for those who are lacking in the cookery skills department, this website provides recipes for basic breakfasts such as bacon sandwiches and porridge through to easy dinners such as tomato and chilli jacket potatoes.

student lettings advice

 

Food Network

101 essential student survival recipes -need we say more? With a whole section on budget meals, this website is ideal for money conscious students who still want delicious wholesome meals.

student lettings advice

 

Jamie Oliver

Fear not these recipes do not require Jamie’s skills in the kitchen but offer cheap and easy meals such as hungover noodles and fish finger sandwiches. This website also offers 10 healthy tips to live by incase you are unsure on how best to look after your body.

 

We aren’t expecting anyone to turn into the next James Martin however these links should give you basic knowledge and skills. Most of the recipes serve 4 and would be perfect for housemates who want to split the cost of self-catering.

Mistoria Estate Agents provide high quality student accommodation so if you’re in need of student lettings advice please do not hesitate to contact us. Email us at info@mistoriaestateagents.co.uk for more information on our student accommodation.

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PRESS ARTICLE: Student accommodation, one of the UK’s strongest growing investment markets

pit-website-logoNew research, carried out by student property investment specialists The Mistoria Group, has shown that the average gross cash rental yields for the student property sector in the North West were 13% for the first three quarters of 2014. This was significantly more than the 6.37% forecast for average student property yields across the UK for 2014.

The findings also revealed that the gross cash rental yields for student property in the North West increased by 8% year on year, representing a 22% rise over the last five years. Moreover, the yields are 5-6% higher on average than the buy-to-let market as a whole, which stood at 6.2% between April and June 2014.

For the past five years, student accommodation has been the biggest growing investment property market in the UK, according to The Mistoria Group. It has also continued to be one of the most robust investment sectors, with rental incomes and property values either remaining stable or increasing.

“An alternative investment to the UK’s more traditional property markets, student accommodation offers investors strong returns and this sector is continuing to see phenomenal growth,” Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group, said. “Investing in student accommodation offers a long-term investment option, as the property is highly likely to be in constant demand throughout the calendar year. Typical rents are significantly higher for student properties than a comparable BTL property in the same city.”

The domestic student population continues to escalate, with an extra 30,000 university places offered in 2014. UCAS are expecting an all-time high of 500,000 applications this year.

“Students will pay more for high quality, well-maintained accommodation than for the traditional rundown and neglected shared houses, because there really isn’t a big price difference between poor and high quality accommodation,” Liyanage added. “Our recent research shows us that the vast majority of students want to live in high quality, shared accommodation, with good internet access and affordable bills.”

He concluded: “Student housing is increasingly a global asset class. Over the last two years, there has been a huge surge in student housing investment activity. Last year saw over £2 billion worth of investment in the student sector.”

Mistoria offer investors HMOs, based in the North West, which they say give cash returns of 8%-10% net per annum, from day one. Also the geared yields should be as high as 35%. By contrast, Liyanage argues, PBSA yields are usually guaranteed by the developer for the first 5 years and these figures are “subject to speculation about rental increases in the coming years, which may, or may not occur.” If the property does not perform as the developer predicts, “the investor is left with an underperforming asset in year six.”

This article first appeared on Property Investor Today on 16th October 2014.

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North West student houses lease renewal 2015/16

Due to the large number of North West student houses Mistoria manages, we are already receiving a significant number of enquiries for the 2015/2016 academic year.

As we value our current tenants (you guys), we wish to give you the opportunity to renew your lease and book the property for 2015/16 before we offer the property on the open market and commence with the viewings.

Will you please confirm, via email, your intentions for the property (one email from the lead tenant per property will be fine) so we can establish the our availability for the next academic year.

We ask that you confirm your intentions by 27th October as there are many prospective tenants who wish to arrange viewings and finalise their  accommodation prior to Christmas.

Unfortunately we did have several disappointed tenants last year as they failed to reply to our email and the property was let prior to them responding.

We look forward to hearing from you and having you as tenants for the next academic year.

Please email info@mistoriaestateagents.co.uk.

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PRESS ARTICLE: Lenders ripping off landlords?

 

ctp-property-logoWith interest rates at an all time low, one would not expect there to be issues with lenders charging high fees/rates for landlords who are in a position to borrow for property investment.

However there has been a sharp rise in the number of formal complaints from landlords and investors about the valuation they have received for the HMO’s (both licensed and non-licensed), according to The Mistoria Group, a leading student property investment company.

These complaints tended to centre around the valuers property valuation. Very often it seems the valuation provided was up to £50k below market value and didn’t take into account rental income – meaning the level of lending was heavily restricted. Valuers tended to give a property a valuation based on sales comparison on the same road or based upon rental income if the property were let to a family unit rather than on a room by room basis (which is of course substantially lower).

Mish Liyanage, MD of The Mistoria Group, comments, “This is a big problem in the market place and it needs to be addressed.” While there are appeals processes and complaints to be made, they often yield little success. “The comparisons we have provided for like for like HMO’s are often totally ignored.”

A recent case involved a valuer who was asked to value a four bed house share. The HMO valuation was £80k and it failed to take into account any HMO comparisons, which were provided. These included four bed HMO’s in the area that sold for £130k within the past 12 months. The valuation cost £700.”

Unfortunately for landlords they are in a very weak position when it comes to arguing against valuations. The lender will be using a third party surveyor whom they are most likely to side with. The complaints procedure is likely to be a drawn out affair and the landlord is very likely to be a long way down the conveyancing line so that by pulling out not only would they be losing the (hefty) valuation fee, but will need to start the process again with a new lender.

This is where a good mortgage broker can come in very useful as they will often have good contacts from within the lenders who may be able to shed light on matters and expedite the process.

This article was first posted on ctp:property on 12th October 2014