According to the latest Private Rented Sector Report, produced by ARLA Propertymark, the number of tenants negotiating for a rent reduction has reached its lowest rate since the organisation began compiling its monthly records.
Just 1.1% of tenants negotiated a reduction in December of last year, representing a considerable year on year drop; in 2017 the figure was 2.6% and in 2018 it was 2.2%. Even in November, the number was still as high as 1.6%. This is somewhat surprising, as the number of estate agents reporting increasing rents hit 32%. In December 2018, only 18% of agents had reported price hikes. Even so, it appears that the time tenants spend in their rental properties has remained stable; the average is still 19 months.
Perhaps in part due to increasing costs, tenant demand fell for the third consecutive month, with an average of just 56 prospective tenants per branch, one less than in November. Yet the number of properties managed per branch rose from 203 to 206 in the same period.
In recent months much has been made of a ‘landlord exodus’ from the BTL (buy-to-let) market, with investors supposedly increasingly choosing other methods of revenue production. However, ARLA’s figures suggest that this is not entirely the case. Whilst an average of four landlords per branch did sell their properties in December, this was the same in November.
ARLA Accredited Estate Agents
At Salford lettings agents, Mistoria, we are members of ARLA Propertymark. That means that we meet higher industry standards than the law demands. Our experts undertake regular training to ensure they are up to date with best practice and complex legislative changes so they can offer you the best advice. We are also backed by a Client Money Protection scheme which guarantees your money is protected.
If you are a landlord with a property which you’d like to let in Salford, Liverpool or Bolton, please get in touch with the team. Alternatively, if you are an investor interested in purchasing a property, please visit our investment site https://www.mistoriagroup.com/. Our North West rental properties regularly achieve combined yields of 13%.
Whether you’re attending lectures, working in the library, playing your favourite sport or meeting up with friends on socials, we know that you’ve got lots going on in your life. We understand that your responsibilities in a Mistoria student house will be the last thing on your mind. That’s why we thought we’d write this blog post, as a friendly reminder of some simple dos and don’ts…
Try and keep the property clean and tidy at all times. We’ve written a blog post in the past about creating a cleaning rota and the best products to use.
No food to be left/eaten in bedrooms – we know you do this, but don’t leave evidence of it!
Don’t attach posters to the walls with Blu-Tac as it causes grease marks that are really difficult to get rid of.
Put your rubbish in the correct bins and don’t let it pile up, especially in your garden or yard. This causes an unsightly mess and encourages vermin.
Keep all rooms vented to prevent condensation and damp. When you’re at home, open windows a little and use extractor fans in the bathroom when you’re showering and the kitchen when you’re cooking.
When you first moved in, you will have been shown how to top up the boiler, clean out the hoover and clean the filters in your washing machine, all things you may not have known before. With just a bit of maintenance on your part, household items will stay in effective working order.
Smoking is not allowed in any of our properties. Make your Mistoria student house a nice environment for everyone and smoke outside, away from open windows and doors.
Wet wipes and kitchen roll should be disposed of in a bin and not flushed down the toilet, otherwise you run the risk of causing blockages.
Clean your shower regularly, removing hair from the plug and making sure mould doesn’t form.
Use boiler timers and your thermostat. This will help keep the house at a pleasant temperature and prevent pipes from freezing up in cold weather.
When using the internet, be considerate of other people in your house; streaming films will slow your housemates’ connection speed down and can be really frustrating for anyone trying to work.
Anti-social/irresponsible behaviour will not be tolerated. You each have equal responsibility to make your student house a safe and pleasant place to live for yourselves and your neighbours.
If you don’t follow the guidance above, the Mistoria maintenance team might have to be called out and you may be charged for the work that they do to fix a problem.
If you have any questions please call your local Mistoria office on 0800 500 3015.
If you’re looking for a Mistoria student house in Salford, Liverpool or Bolton, please get in touch and let us help you find the perfect place to call home for the next academic year.
On 13th February, 4pm – 7pm, we’ll be hosting an Open Day at our latest luxury development, Mistoria Villa, in the heart of bustling Bolton. If you’re a North West investor or landlord, come and join us and discover the opportunities for exceptional returns that our newest property can offer you.
Mistoria Villa has undergone extensive redevelopment and is now home to 15 beautiful en suite rooms, spread over 4 floors, each with a large bed, wardrobe, chair, desk and modern furnishings. They are complemented by well-appointed kitchens and large communal social spaces.
Located within the Trinity Gateway Zone of Bolton, the property is excellently located for easy access to the town centre, the University, and, thanks to its fantastic transport links, Manchester and further afield. The accommodation is therefore perfect for both students and professionals.
On the 13th February 2020, 4pm – 7pm, we’re inviting our landlords and investors to look around Mistoria Villa, our latest brand new luxury development, aimed at students and young professionals. Will you be joining us?
Following a full renovation and high specification upgrade, Mistoria Villa now boasts 15 luxury en suite bedrooms, complemented by well equipped kitchens and comfortable communal social spaces. The stunning bedrooms, each with a unique contemporary design, are spacious and airy and all come fitted with desks, chairs, wardrobes, large, comfortable beds and modern furnishings.
Situated within the Trinity Gateway Zone, the property offers excellent road and rail transport links, with easy access both to the bustling Town Centre with its wide variety of shopping and leisure opportunities and the academically excellent University of Bolton, just a ten minute walk away.
You can view further images of the property and find out more by clicking here.
Since April 2018, it has been illegal for landlords to let properties which do not achieve a minimum performance rating of E on an EPC. Should landlords fail to comply with this legislation, local councils have the power to mete out fines as high as £5,000.
What is an EPC?
An EPC, or ‘Energy Performance Certificate’ is a piece of documentation which tells potential renters how much it will cost to heat and light a property, as well as the amount of CO2 the property produces. An inspection of the property must be carried out by an accredited assessor and will take roughly two hours to complete. The EPC is then valid for ten years. The ratings which can be achieved range from G (the worst rating) to A (the best). The assessor will rate your property on a scale from 0 – 100; certain numbers fall within each band. A register of EPCs for England and Wales can be found here.
Properties which fall into the upper bands are the most energy efficient, have the lowest energy bills and are arguably more attractive to tenants. A higher rental yield can often be commanded on high performing properties.
If your property has a low EPC rating, don’t despair. There are a number of ways you can improve it and ensure your property meets regulations. Follow our advice below and remember, any changes you make to the property must be permanent to count towards your rating.
The best way to improve your property’s EPC rating is to install insulation. If your property was built before the 1920s, it is highly likely that it has solid walls. If this is the case, solid wall insulation can be fitted from inside each room. Rock wool should be used, at a minimum depth of 270mm. If the property was built after this date, it will probably have cavity walls. The cavity can be pumped with insulating expanding foam easily and cheaply. If you install insulation in a property which originally had none, you can improve your EPC rating by 15 points.
Roughly a quarter of a property’s heat is lost through the roof. You should therefore make fitting insulation in the roofspace, and in the attic, if you have one, a key priority.
10% of a property’s heat is lost through its windows, so you need to make sure that they are suitably insulated. Though expensive, the best way to do this is to fit double glazing. Doing so will not only increase your EPC rating but will also make the property much warmer and quieter and reduce the chance of condensation forming. You could also consider secondary glazing, which is cheaper but less effective at keeping heat in the property.
If you’ve got a boiler that’s been in place since you bought your property, it’s probably time to consider replacing it with a modern ‘A-rated’ one. The latest boilers are hugely efficient and usually have features such as a programmer and thermostat built in. If you have a hot water cylinder, you should also buy an insulating jacket for it – they can be purchased for as little as £20. Given that as much as 55% of a property’s energy costs go on heating, it’s of little surprise that fitting a new boiler and improving your central heating system has an enormous effect on your EPC rating.
In 2018, it was announced that traditional halogen bulbs would gradually be phased out; they are now no longer available for purchase on the high street. You should instead opt for LED bulbs for your property. Not only are they brighter and more energy efficient, they can also last between twenty and thirty years, saving you money in the long term (halogen bulbs typically only last for two years). Fitting LED bulbs will only make a small difference to your EPC rating, but the savings you make are worth the initial higher purchase price.
If you really want to bring your home into the 21st Century, you may decide to invest in some renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, though these are expensive and if you want to see their advantages, a long-term mindset is required. Fitting solar panels may increase the value of your property, especially in a few years’ time when there is an even greater pressure to move away from fossil fuel usage.
If you need advice about bringing your property up to standard and improving your EPC rating, please speak to a member of our maintenance team, who will be happy to help. For further information about investing in Liverpool, Bolton and Salford student accommodation, contact us or visit https://www.mistoriagroup.com.
According to police research, students are the group most likely to be targeted by burglars in the UK, so it’s really important you make sure you do everything you can to make your property secure. We’ve written this blog post to help you take the necessary precautions to keep you and your belongings safe.
Over 1000 student homes in Manchester are burgled every year. Shockingly, 1 in 3 burglaries occur after the students living there fail to lock their doors and windows before leaving the property. It is therefore essential that you make sure your locks are in good working order and that you use them as often as possible. Burglars want easy access to a property, so by making their lives more difficult, you’ll dramatically reduce the chance of a break-in. If you can, you should also lock your bedroom door when you go out. That way, if one of your housemates forgets to lock their window, burglars won’t be able to steal your belongings too.
Even if you are in the property, you should lock the doors and windows in the rooms which you’re not using. This is especially important if you are out in the garden as you may not hear someone breaking in. In the unlikely event that it’s hot outside, make sure you lock your windows at night.
If you have any broken locks or if you feel additional locks are required in your property, notify the Mistoria maintenance team immediately and we will come and help.
In the Garden
If you have gates that lead into your garden, keep them locked. You should also move wheelie bins away from the house so that would-be burglars cannot use them to climb into the property through an accessible window. On bin collection day, move your bins back into your garden or onto your drive; if they are left out on the pavement, your property will look unoccupied and burglars are more likely to strike.
Keeping Valuables Safe
Another way to prevent burglaries is to make sure your valuables are hidden out of sight. Opportunist thieves may strike if they notice a laptop in the window within easy reach. When you leave your house for the day, you should therefore hide your valuables in drawers. The effect of having your computer stolen will not just be financial though – it will probably have all of your essays and research on it too and losing those could be disastrous for your academic career.
Furthermore, if you have just purchased a new piece of tech, tear up the box and put it in your recycling bin. Don’t leave it on show next to the bins or in the window, as that will make it obvious to thieves that there is something worth stealing in your property.
If you plan to have a big night out and everyone in the house will be out, order a taxi to come and pick you up at the end of the road. That way, it won’t be as clear which house is the empty one to anyone who might be watching. The same should be done when you leave your house at the end of the term.
You should also purchase a light timer so that when you go out it looks like you’re still in. These are fairly inexpensive and can be bought from supermarkets and DIY stores. If it looks like your house is occupied, thieves will be less likely to attempt to burgle the property.
When you do go home for the holidays, bring all of your valuables with you. The longer a burglary goes unreported, the less likely you’ll be to recover your stolen items; this could be a number of weeks if you’re on holiday. Therefore, take similar precautions to those listed above when you move out over Christmas or Easter; use timers, make sure everything is locked up and make sure the outside of your house is well kept – don’t let rubbish build up in your front garden as unkempt properties often appear less secure.
Sometimes, no amount of preparation can stop your house being burgled. That’s why you need to ensure that you purchase contents insurance for your property as soon as you move in. You might think it’s cheaper to take the risk and not pay for insurance, but if your property is burgled, the cost of replacing all of your stolen items can be crippling.
You should also register all of your valuables on the Immobilise website, where you can record the serial number, make and model of your items. If they are recovered by the police, officers will check this online database to try and return your items to you.
If you require more advice or you are concerned about securing your property, get in contact with the team; we’re always happy to help. We’ve also produced advice for landlords on securing their properties, which can be found here. If you are looking for student accommodation for sale, Salford based Mistoria Estate Agents have a range of properties available.
We are delighted to announce that, after three months of hard work, five members of our team have achieved ARLA Membership (MARLA) status. Congratulations go to Mish, Tanya, April, Julie and Daniella, who each successfully passed four exams after their extensive Level 3 training programme on both property management and sales. The four units covered; Health and Safety, Security and General Law; Legal Aspects of Letting and Management; Residential Property Letting Practice; and Residential Property Management Practice.
Why You Should Use an ARLA Propertymark Protected Letting Agent
When you let your property, you want to know that those to whom you entrust the management of the process know what they’re doing and know how to manage the issues which regularly arise. By choosing a company such as Mistoria, who have voluntarily chosen to become regulated by ARLA, you can rest easy knowing that they are committed to raising standards within the industry and providing the best possible service to you.
ARLA Propertymark Protected agents offer a highly professional service and have the ability to manage your property portfolio with a high degree of skill. We work to higher standards than the law demands to ensure the best possible experience for our landlords.
But there are also advantages for tenants. By choosing to be regulated by ARLA, Propertymark Protected companies commit themselves to helping the tenancy run smoothly and hassle free. For example, any maintenance issues which may arise will be resolved quickly and efficiently. If you want to avoid a terrible agent who does not care for your needs and who may not follow the law, choose an ARLA Propertymark Protected agent.
The Propertymark Protected Offering
All agents who are recognised as Propertymark Protected are backed by a Client Money Protection scheme, are members of an independent redress scheme which has been approved by the Government, attend regular training courses to ensure continued professional development, are informed of the law and new legislation to ensure they remain compliant, submit financial records to Propertymark and adhere to a nationally recognised code of practice. As a result, their service is as transparent as possible and all they do is subjected to review by an external body.
Other members of the Mistoria team are now also working their way towards NAEA Membership status. The in-depth training programme requires great effort on their part, but will be worth it in the end! We’ll let you know how they’re getting on in the new year. In the meantime, if you have any questions, contact us.
The best day of term for every student is when that all important student loan lands in their bank account. But making that money last can be really tough when you’re trying to juggle the costs of going out, doing the food shopping and buying textbooks. Sow how do you live on a budget during your time at university? We thought we’d write this blog post to provide some guidance.
Create a Budget
Unsurprisingly, the most important part of living on a budget is to come up with a plan of how much you can spend each week. If you’ve never budgeted before, you might find that calculating living costs is quite tough, so talk to whoever pays the bills in your household.
To work out how much money is available to you and to prevent yourself going into your overdraft, divide the amount of money in your bank account after your student loan has dropped and your parents have added some funds (though we know that not everyone’s parents can do this) and divide it by the number of weeks in the term. If you’re prone to overspending on nights out, it might be a good idea to open another bank account where you keep most of your money and just transfer over the amount you need each week.
When you make your plan, be aware that the most important thing you need to budget for is your food bill and your rent. If you’re in a Mistoria house, you can rest assured knowing that the rent you pay includes bills, so you don’t have to spend time worrying about any extra costs. You then need to think about how much you’ll spend on nights out and other social events with friends. Remember that if you go to a university in a big city like Liverpool or Manchester, the price of a night out will be higher than you’re used to.
If your costs for the first term are higher than anticipated (and they probably will be, what with buying textbooks, joining societies and buying bits and pieces to make your house more like a home) you’ll need to make allowances for that in the following term and cut back somewhere.
A great way to save money is to shop for food as cheaply as you can. Certain shops like Aldi are well known for having really low prices, but if you prefer to shop elsewhere, look for own brand products as they’re usually considerably cheaper than the brands you know. You should also look at the price per gram shown on shop labels. You’ll often find that something that initially looks like the cheaper option is misleading and that another choice will actually save you money.
When you go food shopping, you should have a weekly meal plan in place and stick to it. If you know exactly what you want, you won’t be tempted to buy any extra stuff you don’t need. When it comes to actually preparing your meals, buy and cook in bulk. Try and prepare four meals worth of food in one go and freeze what you don’t eat. That way, you’ll create less waste and save money at the same time.
Track What You Buy
When you’ve got money in your bank account, it can be hard not to spend it on impulse purchases. Before buying something though, ask yourself whether you really need it, or whether that brand new t-shirt will just end up at the back of the cupboard with all the others you bought and thought you’d wear. When you do buy something, it’s a good idea to track your spending. You could even go as far as making an Excel spreadsheet to do this. You can then see where you’ve spent your money and if you you realise you’ve been spending a bit too much, you can see where to cut back.
Get a Student Discount Card
For some great savings, you should definitely get a TOTUM card. You can use it to get more than 200 discounts at some of your favourite brands, both in-store and online. You can get one for just £32 for three years.
Travelling by train in the UK can be cripplingly expensive, so it’s just as well you can get a 16-25 Railcard, which gives you a third off rail travel. Whilst you can buy one for £70 for three years, you can also get one for free if you open a student bank account with Santander.
Renting a House with Mistoria
Did you know that you can live in a high quality student home without breaking the bank? If you’re on the hunt for some of the best student accommodation in Salford come and see what Mistoria Estate Agents has to offer. Speak to a member of our team to discuss your needs.
It’s not long now before you’ll be going home for the Christmas holidays, but before you head off, there’s a few things you need to do. Luckily, we’ve put together this checklist to help.
Book Your Travel
We all know how expensive British train travel is, so if you haven’t booked your tickets yet, you need to do so as soon as possible. To save money, be flexible with the date you want to travel and book outside of peak times. If there’s the option, try and get a reserved seat. Remember that everyone will be going home at the same time and you really don’t want to be left standing up for the whole journey home! You should also try to get hold of a 16-25 railcard, especially if you’re planning to travel the length and breadth of the country regularly, as you’ll get a third off the price of your journey. You can also look online to find the best split route tickets. With a little bit of work, you’ll find that a journey made in two parts is often cheaper than a direct trip, even if you follow the same route. Don’t fancy parting with all that money? If there’s no rush to get home, consider taking a National Express coach instead.
Finish Your Work
You probably won’t have time to get absolutely all your work finished by the end of term, but you should still have a good crack at it. At home, you might not have access to a library as good as your University’s and you don’t want to end up getting stuck unable to do any research for that all-important essay. If you get a good chunk of work out of the way, you won’t have it hanging over you and you’ll be able to spend more time relaxing and eating way too many mince pies!
On a similar note, return all the library books to that you don’t need over the holidays. You don’t want to come back to university in January realising you’ve ended up racking hundreds of pounds worth of fines because you couldn’t be bothered making the trek over to the library.
Host a House Christmas
There’s nothing better than getting all your friends over for a big Christmas party. Get everyone to cook together (that way you’ll be able to disguise how bad of a chef you are), have a go at Secret Santa and play some Christmas games… or just get drunk. If you put up Christmas lights, make sure you don’t overload the plug sockets.
Tidy Your Room
Tidying your room might be the last thing you want to do when you’re full of festive cheer, but you’ll thank yourself when you come back in January. If you don’t clear up, you might come back to find that mice have moved into the house, or that the pizza you drunkenly ordered and forgot about has gone mouldy. Take the opportunity to recycle everything you can and if you’ve discovered that you have far too many clothes that you don’t plan to wear ever again consider donating them to the local charity shop.
Only Pack The Essentials
Remember that you’ll only be heading home for a weeks weeks maximum, so you won’t need to bring your whole wardrobe back with you. Just make sure you have enough for the time you’ll be home and maybe pack some special outfits for Christmas parties. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re getting on the train and see everyone else that’s packed too much struggling to drag their suitcases across the platform.
You should bring home any valuables you have though. Burglars target student properties when they’re vacant over the holidays, so make sure there’s nothing there for them to take.
Do Your Christmas Shopping
If you’ve not started Christmas shopping yet, what are you waiting for?! If you’re in a city like Manchester or Liverpool with their huge shopping districts, there’s plenty of choice and something for every budget. Go out with your friends and make a day of it, and use the opportunity to discover some new areas of the city. If the hustle and bustle of high street Christmas shopping isn’t for you, get your online orders in now – you don’t want to end up ordering a load of fantastic presents only for them not to turn up by Christmas because you’ve left it too late. Get them delivered to your home address so that you don’t have to lug them through the train station or ram them into your already stuffed suitcase.
Take Down Your Christmas Decorations
When you get back in January, you’ll probably end up getting hit with the post-holiday blues and seeing Christmas decorations up will make the feelings so much worse. Take them down before you head home and most importantly, unplug any lights you’ve put up, to prevent a fire while you’re away.
Right before you and your friends leave your property, make sure you lock all the doors and windows in your house. If your bedroom doors have locks, make use of these too. That way, if someone does break in, they’ll only be able to access the communal areas of the property. You should also unplug all the electrical devices in your house that don’t need to be on so you don’t end up getting hit with a massive utility bill when you get back from the holidays. You should also set your heating to 7-10 degrees. This will ensure that your pipes don’t freeze while you’re away and should also stop condensation forming and causing damp.
Look For a House For Next Year
If you’ve not found a house for next year, it’s probably a good time to start looking. Get a group of friends together and begin to have a look at what’s available. If you’d like some advice about renting student houses, Salford, Liverpool and Bolton based Mistoria Estate Agents are here to help. Speak to a member of the team now.
The Christmas holidays are nearly here, which means thousands of students will be heading home later this month. But that can cause quite a headache for landlords, as many houses will be left vacant for a number of weeks. So what can you do to safeguard your property this festive season? Read on to discover Mistoria Estate Agents’ advice.
Keeping Burglars Out
Perhaps the biggest problem landlords face during any vacant period is that of the increasing chance of burglaries. This is especially the case in student houses, because it is easier for thieves to guess when properties will be empty. But the problem is exacerbated during winter, when the clocks have gone back and burglars can operate under the cover of darkness. The best way to protect your property during this period is to make the house look occupied. You can do this inexpensively by purchasing timers for lights that plug into the mains. Lights with built-in timers are also available. Depending on how sophisticated you want the system to be, you might have the lights turn on in a pattern which reflects that of ordinary use throughout the evening. If you haven’t already installed them, it would also be a good idea to fit some motion detecting lights outside the property too, especially near doors and windows.
Before they leave, you should also advise your tenants not to leave their valuables and possessions in view and to ensure that they lock all of the property’s windows and doors. If you have installed a burglar alarm, make sure your tenants know the code and encourage them to make use of the alarm when they leave the property.
Students love a string of fairy lights and Christmas gives them a great opportunity to get creative with their displays. Remind them to buy high quality lights from a reputable source which are appropriate for their location – some lights are only suitable for indoor use. Advise your tenants not to overload plug sockets when they put up their lights, too. When it comes to leaving their property for the holidays, they may forget to unplug their decorations. This is of course a major fire risk, so you need to make sure you remind them to switch off any electrical equipment that doesn’t need to be on throughout the property.
Of course, Christmas lights are not the only source of fire in the home. With no one around to discover blazes in a vacant property, the results can be catastrophic. But you can reduce the chance of a fire breaking out, just by following your duties as a landlord. You are legally required to fit smoke and fire detectors throughout your property and to check them regularly. Further, you are expected to to carry out gas safety checks and organise for a registered electrician to carry out PAT Testing, to ensure that all the electrical appliances in the property are functioning correctly.
You may also consider switching to LED bulbs. They produce more light, but less heat than traditional bulbs. Not only will you save money on your electricity bills, but the chance of them overheating and causing a fire if they’re accidentally left on over the holidays is also massively reduced.
For more information about getting your property ready for winter, read our blog post. If you have any other questions about letting an investment property to students, get in touch with the team at Salford, Bolton and Liverpool Letting Agents, Mistoria.