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Tenant Fees Bill

Tenant Fees Bill

It has been announced that the Tenant Fees Bill is set to come into force on 1st June 2019.

The Bill will ban letting fees paid by tenants in the private rented sector and cap tenancy deposits in England. The ban will apply to all tenancies signed after 1st June.

The aim of the Bill is to deliver a fairer, good quality and more affordable private rented sector by reducing the costs that tenants pay at the beginning and throughout a tenancy and improving the relationship between tenants and landlords.

The ban will allow tenants to see how much a property will cost them with no hidden costs.

For landlords, this means you will only be allowed to take payment for rent and deposits from tenants. There are just three other ‘default fees’ you will be able to charge a tenant for, and they will also be limited;

Damages
If a tenant causes damage to your property beyond reasonable wear and tear, you may charge them for the cost to repair the damage.

Loss of keys
You may charge the tenant for the cost of replacing them and reasonable costs and evident must be provided in writing (receipts etc). You cannot charge for your time or inconvenience.

Late rent payment
You can charge 3% above the Bank of England base rate in interest.

Landlords can still charge for changes to a tenancy requested by the tenant. £50 would be considered the norm and any charge above this would need to be justified. If tenant wants to leave the contract early, they will be liable to pay the rent up to a maximum of the length of the fixed term of the contract.

Deposits will also be restricted to the equivalent of five weeks rent where annual rent is below £50k.

Failure to comply

Failure to comply with the Tenant Fees Ban could land you in a whole heap of trouble. If you charge a fee that is not permitted, tenants will be able to reclaim the money they have paid, plus interest, via the county court. Trading standards will also have the authority to fine you up to £30k.

You will also be unable to serve a Section 21 notice if you have charged a tenant a fee where you shouldn’t have and kept the money.

How Mistoria Estate Agents can help

At Mistoria Estate Agents, we can manage your buy to let property, including tenant finding and management, on your behalf. This means we can take the burden out of staying compliant with new areas of legislation, including the Tenant Fees Ban. Let us do the hard work of managing your investment whilst you get on with the other areas of your life. Call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk to see how we can help you.

A full guide to the Tenant Fees Ban can be found on the RLA website www.rla.org.uk/feeban.

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‘Right to Rent’ breaches human rights

right to rent

The High Court has ruled that the current ‘Right to Rent’ checks breach human rights.

The scheme requires landlords and letting agents to check the immigration status of tenants by checking their passport or visas and has been in force across England since 2016. Failing to do so is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment or a fine.

The scheme was introduced under the 2014 Immigration Act which aimed to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the UK.

In a review of the process, brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), judges said the policy had “little or no effect” on its aim of controlling immigration.

It said evidence “strongly showed” the scheme was causing landlords to discriminate against potential tenants because of their nationality or ethnicity, something the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) agrees with. The RLA has welcomed the ruling saying the scheme had turned landlords into “untrained and unwilling border police.” RLA research had found that fear of getting things wrong led to private landlords being less likely to rent to those without a British passport or those with limited time to remain in the UK.

This discriminatory attitude of landlords, through fear of possible prosecution under the Right to Rent scheme, has in part, led to the High Court ruling.

On the flip-side, the Home Office said it was “disappointed” by the ruling and said an independent study found no evidence of systematic discrimination in its policy and the scheme was intended to discourage illegal residence in the UK. The government are expected to appeal against the decision.

What does all this mean for landlords?

For the moment, nothing changes. Landlords and letting agents in England are required to continuing checking applications has they have been doing.

If you are a landlord and require assistance managing the tenants, and/or maintenance of your property, Mistoria Estate Agents can help. Let us take the hard work out of being a landlord and ensure you comply with current regulations, including Right to Rent checks. Call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

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How to avoid pest infestation problems

pest infestation problems

A recent study carried out by a manufacturer and retailer of blinds, shutters, carpets and curtains showed that 64% of Brits who have experienced a pest infestation in their property were renting at the time. Of the 2,000-people surveyed, 57% responded that they had encountered problems related to pest at some point within their home.

Most of us have once encountered some creepy crawlies in our homes. However, dealing with a recurring infestation is a totally different situation, which may become expensive and stressful at the same time. There are many reasons why a pest infestation may occur. It is worth establishing what exactly led to such a situation, in order to prevent it from occurring in the future. If disrepair of property is the reason for creatures making their way inside and there is a noticeable presence of pest and vermin, it can be a health and safety hazard for who is currently living in the property.

One reason rental properties may be more prone to infestations could be a lack of (understanding of) responsibility. Just who’s job is it to prevent and deal with pests? Is it the tenant or the landlord? With each side (perhaps) presuming the other is on top of upkeep in the home, those pesky pests can make their way in and quickly cause havoc.

At Mistoria Estate Agents we want to remind our tenants of their responsibilities when it comes to preventing pest infestations. At the same time, we want to highlight to other landlords their responsibility when it comes to maintaining their properties to avoid pest problems, and how using a full service letting agent like Mistoria Estate Agents can means we take on that responsibility for you.

Tips to avoid pest infestations

These tips apply to landlords and tenants alike.

In short, if there is disrepair in the property concerning holes in the floor, walls or ceiling, it is the responsibility of the landlord to deal with and solve the pest problem before tenants move in to the property and during the tenancy. However, if poor hygiene and upkeep of the property is the issue, it’s the tenants that need to up their game.

The first and best pest control method is to prevent your property from becoming vulnerable to pests in the first place. When the pest infestation does enter the property, it can be costly to get rid of and repair the havoc caused by the pest.

Communication between landlords and tenants is important as most of the time it is the tenant who will first notice the signs of a pest problem. It would suit the landlord to occasionally check upon the tenants, to see if they have noticed anything that needs further attention. Periodic inspections of the inside and outside of the property can help landlords and tenants to catch troubling pest issues at an early stage. It is advised all rental property undergo quarterly checks to ensure there is no damage or concerns.

Keeping the place clean and tidy is as important as checking for damage. Pests will be attracted to anything that could be seen as a food source. Landlord should inform tenants, via the tenancy agreement, that they must keep the property clean and tidy. Keeping surfaces and floors clean, especially of food, storing leftover food in containers and not leaving rubbish bags unsealed and lying around will help to keep pests away.

The outside area surrounding the property also needs attention. Keeping the area clear from any rubbish and old furniture prevents the chance for pests to build nests in them. Keeping food outside for wildlife such as bird seeds can attract pests to the property. To prevent this, it is recommended to elevated food from the ground and away from the house. This can be easily done by investing in a bird table or feeding stations for the wildlife.

Advice when you have a pest infestation

If there are noticeable signs of damage caused by any infestation, you need to get in touch with your local council’s environmental health department. They should provide you with the details of a pest control service near you and can give you information depending on which species is causing the problem. Alternatively, they may advise you on what to do to sort out the problem yourself, if the problem is manageable.

Private pest control companies are always an option when the problem is not self-manageable. If you choose to hire a private company resolve the problem, it’s going to cost you. It could even cost more than the fees charged by the council. It is always worth a quick call around for some quotes to find out prices differences.

Bear in mind that some landlord or property insurances may provide coverage of the costs and help in such situations. Often a standard policy covers costs for nest removal. Having the right insurance coverage in place can be worth it, as it may save you time and money in case of pest infestation removal.

Mistoria tenants and landlords

In the first instant, Mistoria Estate Agent tenants should contact us to report any pest problems and we will be able to advise you on the next steps. We may need to visit the property to assess the situation and determine how we move forward. Remember, it is the tenants responsibility to maintain good hygiene habits to prevent pests, however if the disrepair of the property is at fault, the landlord/letting agent must repair the problem. If you’re a landlord and would like to know more about your responsibilities and how Mistoria Estate Agents can help manage your property, please call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

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What Property Checks Must a Landlord Make?

Property Checks for Landlords

Property Checks for Landlords

When you make a property investment for a buy-to-let or HMO property, you become a landlord and need to be aware that there are many different legal checks that a letting agent must carry out on behalf of the landlord. This month for example it was announced by the Government that landlords will be required by law to make sure that inspectors they hire to carry out electrical safety inspections have the necessary competence and qualifications to do so.

The Government also said that it will press ahead with plans first announced last year to introduce regulations requiring landlords to undertake five yearly safety checks of electrical installations in their properties. The new law doesn’t have a date set yet for introduction and will be phased in when it does begin, but good practice would be to start these checks now so there is no issue in the future.

When you hire a letting agent to look after your investment portfolio you need to ensure that they are covering these legally required checks for you as you will also be held responsible if something goes wrong. Here are some other key safety regulations you need to be aware of:

Gas Safety Checks

An annual gas safety check must be performed by a Gas Safe Registered engineer at no longer than 12 months intervals and copies of the certificate given to the tenant.

Fire Safety Order

There must be a risk assessment in place to comply with the Fire Safety Order. It should be in writing.#

Electrical Appliances

If your property is furnished with electrical appliances it is the landlords responsibility to ensure that they are safe when you start a new let. It is also advisable to perform regular tests of any portable appliances to ensure they are safe.

Fire alarms and fire safety

The landlord is responsible for ensuring any fire alarm systems are checked regularly. It also a requirement that you make sure that the means of escape from the property ,such as the hallways ,stairs and landings, are unobstructed.

Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

Landlords (in England) are required to provide smoke alarms on every floor of their property and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room which has a solid fuel source.

This is not a full list of all of your paperwork and certification requirements but an illustration of the considerable amount of work needed to keep yourself compliant.

Mistoria Group celebrates 1o years this year of working on behalf of investors who become landlords through their HMO investment portfolio and during this time has built up an expert team at Mistoria Estate agents who have many hundreds of properties under management.

If you are thinking of making an HMO investment you also need to consider who will be your agent once you have purchased the property. We would love to talk to you about our services. Please give us a call on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk to drop us a line.

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Home security advice for landlords

landlord safety responsibilities

Security was recently revealed as one of tenants’ top three concerns, so it’s worth spending some time and a little money on ensuing they feel safe in your property. Many landlords don’t realise they have a level of responsibility to make sure a property offers security for tenants.

Locks

It is a legal requirement for a landlord to provide a secure lock to external entrances. For wooden front doors should be made of solid timber and fitted with a five-lever mortice deadlock that can be locked on either side. External uPVC doors should have a three-point multi-locking system.

Patio doors are a target for intruders so they too should have solid locks and be fitted with double-glazed casement windows.

All windows on the property should have lockable handles.

Other ways to make your property safer include fitting window locks to non-escape windows and installing door chains.

Lights

Motion-activated external security lights will help tenants feel safer when leaving or entering a property during hours of darkness, whilst also deterring would-be burglars.

Another good deterrent are timer switches inside the property, which can be used by tenants to set lights to come on even when they’re not home.

The garden

If your property has a garden, ensuring your tenants keep the bushes and hedges trimmed will mean one less place for burglars to hide, a clearer escape route in the event of a fire and less potential for a trip or fall due to overgrown shrubbery.

A clause about simple garden maintenance in your tenancy agreement should suffice.

Fire hazards

Landlords are required, by law, to install working smoke alarms in all rental property.

Any electrical appliances you provide; fridges, washing machines, ovens, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, etc, must undergo annual electrical safety testing by a qualified electrician and a certificate of proof provided to the tenant.

Gas safety checks must also be carried out every year, again by a registered gas safety engineer and a certificate issued. This includes your boiler and cooker or hob if they are run by gas.

You might consider asking tenants to carry out weekly or monthly checks of the smoke alarms in the property by including this in their tenancy agreement. Similarly, a ban on smoking and the use of candles in the property will also reduce the risk of fire.

Intruder alarm

An intruder alarm can help keep your property and your tenant safe. Devices that emit sound and light when motion is detected, as well as when a connection is lost, say on a door or window, are most effective.

Insurance cover

Landlord insurance is vital, and you must make sure you have valid cover in place before you rent out your property. Tailored landlord cover may include loss of rent, property owners’ liability, alternative accommodation and landlord home emergency cover.

For tenants, we strongly recommend they have appropriate contents insurance to cover their own belongings as well as accidental damage they may cause to their rental property, furniture or fixtures or fittings.

Tenant security packs

Tenant packs are a great way of providing your tenants with all the necessary information they need about the property. Include codes for alarms and emergency contact numbers. Instructions on where everything is kept and how to keep the property safe.

At Mistoria Estate Agents we issue all tenants with a Welcome Pack detailing everything from security measures to deposits, dos and don’t to inventories and inspections.

If you’re a landlord with Mistoria Estate Agents we can offer you a variety of highly professional and tailored property management solutions, including full property servicing and management, and tenant finding services. If you choose, we can ensure all aspects of home security are taken care of as part of our landlord management service. This means peace of mind for you that your property and your tenants are well looked after, and that you are compliant with all legal aspects of landlord safety responsibilities.

For more information on how Mistoria Estate Agents can help manage your investment property please call the team on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

Background photo created by topntp26 – www.freepik.com

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A Landlord’s Guide to Periodic Inspections

landlord inspections

It’s very important to carryout periodic inspections throughout each tenancy to ensure your property is in a reasonable state and your tenants are complying with the tenancy agreement.

You should evaluate the overall condition of the property, including both the interior and exterior.

Periodic inspections are typically conducted on a quarterly basis, but can be reduced to bi-yearly after frequent, positive inspections to the same tenants.

At Mistoria Estate Agents, we conduct these regular inspections on your behalf as part of our standard landlord service. We supply all our landlords with a report afterwards detailing the condition of the property and any problems uncovered.

To ensure piece of mind that your property is being taken care of, here are some of the things we check for:

Repairs and maintenance issues
The primary objective of a periodic inspection is to spot any obvious maintenance issues. However, it is the perfect opportunity to uncover and repair any minor problems, before they spiral out of control and become major issues. Remember that it’s always easier and cheaper to repair problems at their early stages. Something simple, such as a small leak, can transform into a terrible disaster if it’s neglected for too long. Relying on tenants to report issues isn’t enough to ensure that everything is in working order. While most tenants will report serious issues, many won’t report the small ones until it’s too late. Moreover, some tenants – through no fault of their own – will be completely unaware of potential problems. For example, they may have become accustomed to the smell of damp, but you will notice it as soon as you walk through the door. It is always wise to have a fresh pair of eyes (and a nose) to look over the property.

Tenants’ living conditions
While the property may be in a generally good condition, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your tenants are looking after your investment. Although you may not be able to evict them based on their living conditions, you may decide that you do not wish to renew the contract at the end of the tenancy agreement. As a landlord, you cannot tell your tenant how to live if they are untidy, but if we find that they are unclean, we can inform them that this will resort in damage to the property. For instance, if they leave clothes hanging around, that is their lifestyle choice, but if they do not clean the bathrooms, this could result in staining of the fixtures and fittings.

Some more specific areas of inspection will include:

Damp and mould
Damp and mould are some of the most important issues to look out for, as the tenant often overlooks them. Many tenants simply don’t realise how dangerous and serious mould infestations can be, but you must be aware of them. We will look around windows and sinks, and pay special attention to rooms prone to moisture, such as the bathroom and kitchen, as well as pipework hidden away in kitchen units, and ensure that all extractor fans work – this will help to prevent mould infestations in the future.

Leaks
We run all of the taps in your property to check for any leaks. Leaks can be one of the main causes of mould and rot, which can have devastating effects on the health of your tenants and condition of the property. We will also check the drains outside for blockages to ensure that water is not overflowing, as this can lead to much bigger problems.

Fixtures and fittings
We give all of the fixtures and fittings – and any other items you have provided – within the property a once over to check that they are in a good condition and suitable working order.

The garden
If a clause in your tenancy agreement specifies that the tenant must maintain the garden(s), we will check that it is neat and not overgrown. We will make sure also there are no piles of rubbish in the outside areas, as these can attract pests and other unwanted wildlife.

The loft
It is very unlikely that your tenants will pay attention to the loft, so we will have a quick look around with a torch to check for any leaks, holes or rodents.

Fair wear and tear
A common dilemma with periodic inspections is that there is often a fine line between fair wear and tear and actual damage. You must remember that you can only make your tenants liable for damage, not fair wear and tear. As we look around the property, we will consider which issues were caused by reasonable use of the property on a daily basis (such as scuff marks on the walls).

We understand your property is your investment. As such, part of our service to you as valued landlord, is to ensure your property is fit for purpose, in good working order and is being looked after by your tenants. If you are a landlord and would like to discuss in more detail the service Mistoria Estate Agents can offer you, please contact us on 0800 500 3015.

Some parts of this article were taken from an article first published by Just Landlords in November 2016.

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We’ve been “Under the Hammer”

Homes Under the Hammer is one of the most popular property programmes on TV and we’re delighted that our CEO Mish has made an appearance on the last episode of the current series.

Here he is explaining how he purchased a property in Liverpool and turned it into a beautiful new student HMO property.

The programme is in two parts; the “before” story…

And “after” where we get to see the renovation work carried out to create the finished project…

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Mistoria Group continues expansion with purchase of Student Haus

Mistoria Group, owners of Mistoria Estate Agents, North West specialists in residential and student property sales and lettings, have purchased “Student Haus”, the Salford based lettings and estate agency who have approximately 150 properties under management across the whole of Manchester and Salford.

The acquisition of the business is part of Mistoria’s continuing growth strategy and follows on from the launch of their third estate agency office in Bolton and the acquisition of Pick My Pad announced earlier this year. All Student Haus staff will continue in the new business and the brand will continue to trade under its own name. They currently manage properties for more than 100 landlords covering city centre locations based around the main universities in Manchester and Salford.

Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of student property investment specialist The Mistoria Group comments: “We are delighted to take over the management of Student Haus, including properties, landlords and tenants and to consolidate our position in Salford. Dilan and Edouard have done a great job with Student Digz / Haus over the last 5 years in Salford by building Student Haus into a very a successful business.

“I am glad that they both chose Mistoria to sell their business so that they can both pursue their academic interest. I fervently believe there is a market for both Mistoria and Student Haus brands hence we will continue to trade under both brands in Salford with Hannah Goodman heading the Student Haus division. Over the next few next few months we will be implementing best practices in both businesses that will benefit both our tenants and landlords.”

Commenting on the sale Dilan Omari-Clark said: “We started the company when we were 23 years old after graduating from University. The past 5 years have been a great adventure and we are proud of what we have achieved.

It felt like the right time to sell and we are now ready to take on the next challenge. We are pleased that Mistoria have taken on our staff and we wish Mistoria all the best for the future.”

The Mistoria Group are high yielding student buy-to-let investment specialists, offering HMOs and armchair investments in the North of UK, generating combined net cash yield up to 13% (Rental and Capital Growth). For more information on the firm’s current available investments and the services we offer email us at info@mistoriagroup.com or call 0800 500 3015.

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Further Growth at Mistoria Group with Purchase of “Pick My Pad”

Mistoria Group, owners of Mistoria Estate Agents, North West specialists in residential and student property sales and lettings, have purchased “Pick My Pad”, the Walkden based lettings and estate agency who have approximately 200 properties under management across Greater Manchester.

The acquisition of the business is part of Mistoria’s continuing growth strategy and follows on from the launch of their third estate agency office in Bolton announced earlier this year. All Pick My Pad staff will continue in the new business and will aim to build on their extensive landlord support services. They currently manage properties for more than 150 landlords covering areas from Widnes to Oldham and across the whole of Greater Manchester.

Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group comments: “The friendly acquisition of Pick My Pad is in line with my vision in the next three to five years for Mistoria to manage over 1000 properties and over 5000 tenancies and to be the preferred employer in the real estate industry in the North of England. With this acquisition the number of branches will also increase to five.

Pick my Pad, under Oliver Press has been a very successful business over the last 9 years especially in the Walkden and Little Hulton areas so it is an excellent fit with Mistoria geographically, operationally and financially. It was an easy decision for Mistoria to make to acquire this business and take it to the next level with my team.”

Commenting on the sale Oliver Press said: “I have stepped away from the business as I felt I had taken it as far as I could, and it was time for it to grow. I feel with the current set up at Mistoria it is perfectly placed to go from strength to strength.”

For further information about Mistoria’s landlord, lettings and estate agency services please contact our HQ team.

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Mistoria Estate Agents expands with launch of new Bolton office

estate agents north west

Mistoria Estate Agents, part of the Mistoria Group, specialists in residential and student property sales and lettings, is opening their third office in the heart of Bolton to cater for the growing demand they see in the area. This will be Mistoria’s third estate agency office in the North West following on from their first two locations in Salford and Liverpool.

The new office located at 21a Market Street, Little Lever, Bolton, BL3 1HH will serve the residential property market as well as offering lettings for students and professionals. Mistoria have operated from their Headquarters in Salford since 2009 and expanded initially into Liverpool three years ago.

Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group comments: “We have had a great 12 months and are now expanding our business into Bolton as we see great opportunities there for a quality supplier. Our new team has been carefully selected for their local knowledge and they are raring to go.”

“Since we began operations in 2009 we have seen continuous growth and this expansion into Bolton will not be our last. With our expertise in the North West property market, we’ve been able to concentrate on providing the key services that landlords, tenants and those looking to buy and sell their property really want. We’re excited about the future of the region and the great opportunities there are for us.”

With an opening offer to sell your home for just £750 the Mistoria team are competing against both traditional “bricks and mortar” agents as well as the newer online companies. Mish commented further “We have invested heavily over the last few months in our technology platforms and will market our customer’s properties through the market leading property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla as well as through our own websites and traditional channels.”

The Bolton branch will be holding an open day to celebrate their launch where homeowners looking to sell their property, those wishing to buy or rent a home, as well as landlords searching for a local agent can come along and meet the team. Full details will be announced soon.

The Mistoria Group are high yielding student buy-to-let investment specialists, offering HMOs and armchair investments in the North of UK, generating combined net cash yield up to 13% (Rental and Capital Growth). For more information on the firm’s current available investments and the services it offers, visit us at www.mistoriagroup.com or email at info@mistoriagroup.com or call 0800 500 3015.