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How to get an HMO property ready for renting

If you have a HMO property to rent but are new to this type of investment and need some guidance ensuring it’s ready to be let, then you’re in the right place. We’ve created a comprehensive HMO property checklist to make sure you’re aware of all the essential elements and minute details involved in listing your HMO property for rent.

1. Do you need a HMO property licence?

Before you can begin to take on tenants, you must first establish whether your HMO requires a licence. Not all HMOs need one – only those that have three or more occupants from separate households sharing communal facilities. To find out more about becoming a HMO licensed property, it’s best to contact your local council or apply online for a HMO property licence.

2. Does your property meet HMO rules and regulations?

Even if your HMO doesn’t require a licence, it will still be subject to the minimum HMO rules and regulations in the UK. Unlike buy-to-let properties, HMOs must conform to more stringent and extensive standards in order to ensure all tenants are safe and comfortable.

For example, is the property gas safe? Do you have smoke alarms fitted on every floor? What is the property’s EPC rating, and are the rooms big enough for the number of tenants you want to accommodate? These are just some of the questions you’ll need to answer to gauge whether your HMO property is compliant with the latest HMO guidance. You can find out more about the minimum requirements for HMO properties here.

3. Get your paperwork in order

A letting agent can also prepare the host of paperwork and important legal documents required to rent your HMO, including tenancy agreements, guarantor paperwork and inventory forms. Regardless of whether you’re managing the property yourself or using a letting agent, having this paperwork ready and in order before you start to source tenants can make the letting process both easier and faster.

4. Cut plenty of keys

Another way that you can make taking on tenants even easier is by cutting enough keys for every tenant beforehand. Each tenant should have a key for the front door as well as for their own room. While many properties will also have a back door key, this key is typically kept in the property so it can be used by all tenants as and when required.

It’s also a good idea to create a few spare sets of keys in the event that a tenant loses theirs. This can saves costs further down the line when it comes to changing locks and cutting new front door keys for all tenants. Plus, to make routine property maintenance and inspections easier, you should ensure that you’ve cut keys for yourself and, if you choose, the agency, too, for easy access.

5. Set up a communication plan with your tenants

Prior to the arrival of tenants, you’ll need to consider how you want to communicate with them. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a notice board installed in a communal space. Often installed in the kitchen or living space, this notice board is the perfect place to pin important pieces of information, including emergency contact numbers, fire escape routes, health and safety information and even the refuse collection timetable.

6. Predict the needs of your target tenants

To make your HMO even more attractive to your target market, you need to consider their specific requirements. Students and single professionals, for example, are likely to require high-speed wireless broadband and a dedicated working space either in a communal area or their private bedroom. Investing in compact desks and pre-installing broadband from a reliable internet provider can help to show off the potential and suitability of your HMO to your target tenant.

7. Think about the finishing touches

When tenants are viewing the property, it’s important that it makes a good first impression and one way to do this is by paying attention to the finishing touches. From mirrors that bounce light around dark and narrow corridors to colourful pictures that add personality to neutral spaces, these small yet crucial details could make all the difference when it comes to getting a signature on your tenancy agreement. A few cosy throws and scatter cushions on the communal sofas can also create a feeling of comfort, making the property seem instantly more inviting.

8. Is the property properly furnished?

The allure of many HMOs for tenants lies in the fact that they often come completely furnished. While they must have essential kitchen appliances like a fridge and freezer, they tend to also come with living room furniture, bedroom storage and a chest of drawers, a double bed frame, and even a mattress. Making a furniture checklist is the best way to ensure the property is sufficiently furnished for the occupants.

9. Carry out the cleaning

Especially important if you’ve carried out major renovations to the property, some builders won’t leave the interior quite as clean and tidy as they found it. Before any tenants start to unpack or even view the property, it’s, therefore, a good idea to thoroughly clean the property with a helping hand from a professional cleaning company. This makes a great first impression and sets the cleanliness standard from the outset.

10. Self-management or agency management?

If you have plenty of experience self-managing properties with multiple tenants then you may feel comfortable going down the self-management property route. However, if you don’t have the time, knowledge or experience to manage a HMO, then you may want to consider enlisting help from a letting agent and their HMO property management services.

HMO property management at Mistoria

Why not consider reaching out to our highly experienced and professional property management team at Mistoria Bolton? Thanks to years of invaluable experience in this industry, we can provide bespoke support, guidance and service for a range of properties, including HMOs in the Bolton area. You can either give us a call on 01204 800 766 or send us an enquiry using our handy online contact form to get in touch with a friendly and knowledgeable member of our team!

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Managing HMOs for landlords in Bolton

Managing HMOs for landlords

HMOs – or houses in multiple occupation – can be fantastic investments when managed wisely.

They can demand many times the attention of a typical rented property, and for that reason it’s not uncommon for landlords to seek help managing them.

But what actually goes into the management of an HMO, and why might a landlord want to seek this help rather than simply doing it themselves?

What is HMO management?

HMO management is, quite simply, the management of an HMO property. In the context of HMO management as a service, this is done on behalf of a landlord to save the time and attention they would otherwise need to dedicate to the HMO and its tenants.

This can sound like an impersonal or dismissive stance on the surface, but HMO management is often a wise and well-placed decision for a landlord to take. Landlords who have many other properties to manage, or other demands such as a full-time job, often cannot dedicate the appropriate time to an HMO.

Since an HMO is partly defined by the presence of at least three occupants who aren’t from the same household, any HMO property is going to involve a minimum of three separate tenancy agreements. That is in addition to managing the tenants themselves – for example, their needs as residents and the necessary admin – and the all the usual business of letting a property responsibly such as organising gas safety checks and ensuring good maintenance.

HMOs can be seen as a greater fire risk than standard residential properties, meaning there will be more cost to sink into safety measures like smoke alarms, fire safety doors (for the increased number of rooms), and other equipment like fire extinguishers.

HMO management can also involve needing to manage disputes within the HMO itself if problems arise between tenants. This can be common for any group of people sharing a living space, so landlords may find their skills in diplomacy and mediation being tested in situations that don’t have clear answers or resolutions.

More tenants mean greater use of facilities, which can lead to more frequent and costly maintenance of appliances, communal areas, and gardens. While there is some responsibility on tenants to keep the property clean and in good condition, that ultimately extends only as far as their agreement states, and in situations where every tenant leaves at once – such as may be the case in student HMOs – this leaves you, the landlord, with the task of tidying up in their wake.

HMO management is undoubtedly much more complex than standard property management due to the number of involved parties. Dealing with multiple tenants within a single property means many more opportunities for challenges and complications to arise, which can quickly tax a landlord’s energy when they compete with other demands for time and attention.

Do estate agents manage HMOs?

Yes. Estate agents are a great option for landlords who need help managing their HMO properties. In fact, estate agents can lend their services from the very first day, sourcing tenants and dealing with the necessary referencing to get an HMO filled as smoothly as possible.

Once tenanted, estate agents can provide ongoing HMO management to ensure that resident queries are answered and dealt with promptly. This can be vital in the case of emergency situations like boiler failure or serious property damage that needs fast repair. In such cases, a quick conversation between landlord and agent can set up the resolution and lead to fast action.

Left solely in a landlord’s hands, this would leave one person to ascertain the issue, seek out tradesperson quotes, and book the work for as fast as possible. Estate agents have the advantage of working closely with local traders like plumbers and builders, forming strong and reliable working relationships that mean situations are resolved quickly.

Estate agents can also provide landlords with advice to build their experience and fill in knowledge gaps. This means that while property investors have their burdens lightened with active help in the management, they are also building a strong base of knowledge and experience to help them make future investments wisely.

For those unsure if property management for an HMO would be a good choice, it’s always best to open a dialogue with a local estate agent and talk to them about their services. Find out what they already manage and what their chosen approach to property management entails.

HMO Property Management in Bolton

Our in-depth knowledge of Bolton gives us an edge in managing your professional HMO property. The majority of our HMO property management focuses on professional lets, which gives us a highly specialised scope of experience and allows us to give you the very best advice for professional HMO management, as well as covering residential sales and lettings and investment sales.

Bolton is among Britain’s property hotspots, with an abundance of shopping centres, pubs and restaurants, and vital green spaces to enjoy all within close distance to a property, making it an ideal area to let within.

Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton is one of the leading estate agencies in the North West. Our award-winning work has made us a premier choice for property investors and landlords who want to see the best returns from their properties – either lets or sales.

Our services provide peace of mind to landlords, freeing up your time and focus for other demands while leaving you in the knowledge that your property is being overseen by the best team for the job. As members of the National Landlords Association (NLA) and under regulation by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), we follow best business practices for an ethical and trustworthy service.

To find out more about HMO management with Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton, call us on 01204 800766 or use our contact form today.

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Applying for your first HMO licence

Bolton letting agents

Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are properties in which at least three people live while not being of the same household – that is to say, not of the same family unit or in a couple. A common example of an HMO is student accommodation.

HMOs can be complex. They are equal to the work of several properties, despite being merged into one, since landlords (or their property managers) are dealing with three or more households each with their own individual circumstances, paperwork, and issues. It’s for this reason an HMO licence is required by law.

What does HMO licence mean?

An HMO licence is a legal permit that allows you, as a landlord, to own a property that operates as an HMO. Each licence is valid for a maximum of five years, and one is needed for each individual HMO; you cannot obtain a single licence as a catch-all for any and all HMOs in your portfolio.

The licence is subject to certain criteria, including:

  • The house must be suitable for the number of occupants, dependent upon its size and the facilities included
  • The manager of the house must be ‘fit and proper’, with no breaches of relevant codes of practice and no criminal record
  • Smoke alarms are properly fitted and maintained
  • Electrical appliances are safety tested with certification where requested
  • An annual gas safety certificate is sought and sent to the council

There may be other conditions on your licence decided by the council you apply to, and these will be communicated in response to your application. Failure to seek an HMO licence for a property that needs one can result in fines of up to £30,000 under the Housing Act 2004, or unlimited fines if prosecution is pursued.

Decisions can be appealed to the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber – Residential Property).

When did HMO licencing start?

HMO licencing came into practice in 2006, replacing previous regulations and aiming to raise the quality and standards of HMO management.

The regulations are now outlined in both the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and the Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006.

Before this, the Housing Act 2004 introduced a new way to define what constituted an HMO, as well as affirming what kinds of situations are exempt from the definition of an HMO and therefore requiring no licence.

Do I need an HMO licence?

It is always ideal to check with the local council to understand whether or not a licence is required. However, some properties require an HMO licence as a blanket rule. The following must all apply:

  • Five or more tenants who do not form a single household between themselves, such as all being members of the same family
  • Certain facilities are shared between some or all of the tenants, like a kitchen, shower, or toilet
  • At least one tenant pays rent or has rent paid on their behalf by an employer

A property in England and Wales meeting all of the above constitutes a large HMO.

This was set out in the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2018, which expanded the then-licencing rules to cover all properties meeting these descriptions. Extra conditions were introduced at the same time, such as the minimum sleeping requirements for each tenant and the refuse disposal facilities made available at the property.

HMOs that do not meet all of the descriptions above may still be liable for a licence, which is why it’s always the best course of action to check with your local authority. Certain HMOs may come with additional licencing and others can need licences on specific bases, set at the discretion of the council. These could stipulate extra requirements for the landlord, where reasonable, such as the need to curb antisocial behaviour in the local area.

For the landlord themselves, this may mean undertaking pre-tenancy checks to get a better feel for prospective tenants, introducing terms into contracts that specify what behaviour needs to be minded, or upgrading the property itself to better accommodate a noisier house.

Solving these challenges and remaining compliant with the local council is what makes opportunities such as armchair investment such an attractive prospect for many investors, taking the stress out of management and streamlining the processes.

Certain properties are not defined at HMOs and therefore do not require a licence. Under the Housing Act 2004, these include:

  • Situations such as two-person flat shares, wherein no more than two households comprised of a single person are living together
  • Student halls of residence where the universities are specified as exempt
  • Properties owned or managed by public bodies such as the NHS or the police
  • Residential accommodation that is supportive of a building’s main function or purpose, such as religious establishments
  • Certain buildings specified as exempt within the regulations, like care homes

Government guidelines and advice can give you further information for your specific situation, but generally speaking you do not need an HMO licence if the property in question doesn’t represent an investment towards which other people pay you in return for tenancy.

For instance, if you live in a large house with lots of other family members, you do not need a licence.

What licence do you need for an HMO?

The main licence for an HMO will be applicable for most situations, but it pays to be aware of the different kinds of HMO licences to better understand your obligations as a landlord or individual managing on a landlord’s behalf.

Mandatory

The mandatory licence covers the aforementioned HMOs that must have a licence attached, i.e. comprising five or more people making up at least two households with shared facilities and rent coming from at least one source within the occupancy.

It must be noted that mandatory licences do not apply to purpose-built flats in a block of three or more self-contained flats, such as (but not limited to) those commonly seen in university student accommodation.

Mandatory licences are exactly as the name suggests, and there are heavy penalties for operating a liable HMO without one.

Additional

These licences are purely at the discretion of the relevant local council, and some areas will have licencing rules that other boroughs and regions do not. Additional licences can apply to properties where mandatory licencing does not, and can be a means to ensure that properties are maintained better in areas where they have historically been neglected.

In the past, tenants of properties that were not large enough to satisfy mandatory licencing faced neglect of their living conditions because of this gap in regulation. Additional licencing helps to smooth these gaps over.

Due to the case-by-case nature of additional licencing, there’s not guaranteed source other than your relevant local authority as to which property needs one and which doesn’t. At the risk of being repetitive, always check!

Selective

Selective licencing can apply to essentially any rental property and is again under the discretion of local authorities. These licences are nevertheless compulsory in the areas in which they’re enforced. Nottingham, for example, has a selective licensing scheme that applies to an area covering roughly 30,000 privately rented properties in a designated area, but not the entire city.

Selective licencing allows a council to specifically target areas in which standards are low or management has historically been poor. If your local council has a selective licencing scheme in action, it should have both the area, and the criteria the property must meet, as ready information for all landlords.

The subjective and changeable nature of these licences can make the process of getting the correct information for your HMO labour-intensive. The specifications of additional licencing can also mean more capital required than originally planned, such as in the case of extra repairs or modifications needed to a property.

In certain cases, where landlords fail to bring a property up to the standard sought by the council, an interim management order (IMO) can be issued to take over the management of an HMO. This does not take the property away from the landlord, but it does give the local authority a maximum of 12 months under the order, during which time it will seek to remedy problems that are threatening the health and wellbeing of occupants or nearby neighbours.

Management can also be transferred to another body on behalf of the council, and rent payments for the property may be used to meet the relevant expenditure and administrative costs.

Considering investment options like a joint venture with a property management company like Mistoria Estate Agents may help to ease the financial burden on landlords to meet requirements and ensure their HMO can get off the ground comfortably, giving them a fair chance at investment.

How much will an HMO licence cost?

HMO licence cost varies between areas and their councils, and the difference can be rather considerable. East Cambridgeshire District Council asks for an application fee of £330, whereas Bristol City Council requires a fee of £1,420. These do not represent the lowest and highest fees, and different councils have distinct structures.

Some councils charge at a rate per year or per room, and do not necessarily require that higher fees are paid in one upfront sum.

As these fees are set independently by each respective council, it is always best to check directly with yours as second-hand information can easily become outdated or inaccurate. The fee that a landlord paid five years ago may not the same now, and understanding exactly how much a licence will cost means you can make exact deductions to your capital.

Who is responsible for applying for an HMO licence?

The owner or property manager of the HMO in question is responsible for the application of the licence. There is some open interpretation due to wording of legislation as to whether or not property agents are responsible for the HMO licence. However, liability will typically fall onto the landlord ultimately.

Unlicenced HMOs can yield more than a fine, hefty though that fine can be. It is not uncommon for councils to seek legal proceedings against landlords who try to operate without the necessary licence(s), and tenants in some circumstances can apply to have their rent refunded through a tribunal if they’ve been living in your unlicenced property.

How to renew your HMO license

To renew your licence, contact the local council with whom the current one is held. Unless otherwise specified, renewal should only be necessary every five years. However, your licence must be renewed before it runs out, and bear in mind that a licence is needed for each individual property.

Some councils have moved their services for HMO licencing online, making it easy to keep track of your property and renew your licences.

Before renewing your licence, ensure that your data is up to date and correctly represents the property.

HMO Compliance

Running an HMO can be a complex matter, and there are many responsibilities a landlord has.

The GOV.UK website has some handy information on the obligations of landlords, and local councils can give you an exhaustive list of everything they need for an HMO licence application. This information must be prepared carefully, as a failed application does not always mean a return of your fee.

Property management companies like the Mistoria Estate Agents, as well as providing buy to let properties in the North West to get you on the property investment ladder, can even help you to secure your HMO licence so that your HMO is established, compliant, and profitable even faster.

To learn more about our HMO properties available in Bolton and North West England with Mistoria Estate Agents, please contact us today.

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Your Guide to Letting Agent Fees

Letting Agent Fees

The world of lettings is a complex one for an average tenant or a landlord newly acquainted with the property sector.

Letting agents can help take a lot of the stress and worry away from the work required, but with any professional relationship there needs to be understanding and fair gain for both sides.

When faced with letting agent fees, how do you know what’s fair?

Read on for a comprehensive breakdown of the fees you might be charged by a letting agent, what they might be for and how to know you’re getting the best deal for your money.

What fees can a letting agent charge in the UK?

For new tenants, moving into a property can often be the most expensive stage of the renting journey. However, there has been action in recent years against the fees that a tenant must pay when renting in the private sector.

The Tenant Fees Act introduced new legislation in 2019, seeking to ban most letting fees and placing caps on the tenants’ deposits. The act applies to tenancy agreements signed on or after June 1, 2019.

The aim of the act was to reduce the fees that many tenants found themselves facing when seeking to move into a new property. It prevents hidden costs that were not immediately visible in advertisements, ensuring the price shown is reflective of the true costs to a prospective tenant.

Now, new tenancy contracts can only include the following charges by landlords and/or letting agents:

  • Rent payments
  • Payments for early termination of a contract, where requested by the tenant(s)
  • A refundable deposit – capped at five weeks’ rent for properties costing less than £50,000 in annual rent, or six weeks for those costing above £50,000
  • A refundable holding deposit of no more than one week’s rent in order to reserve a property
  • A maximum charge of £50 for agreement amendments such as variation or novation (higher incurred costs can be charged if reasonable)
  • Charges in regard to utilities, TV licence, council tax, etc.
  • Fees for late rent payments or replacement of required access items such as keys or security devices, if specified in the tenancy agreement

Furthermore, landlords are responsible for paying for letting agents’ services, helping to ensure fees charged for their services stay reasonable.

Holding deposit repayments are also outlined in an attempt to speed up the process, dictating that landlords may only hold them for 15 days unless another deadline is agreed in writing.

Something tenants should know is the Tenant Fees Act is exhaustive in its listing of the fees agents can charge. In other words, anything not listed as acceptable is forbidden, including agency and admin charges or inventory and referencing fees.

This makes it easily digestible for new tenants and gives them a ready-made list of charges they are likely to encounter. For people who are new to the concept of renting a property, for example students and young professionals, this is especially valuable and helps them avoid the pitfalls of more dishonest practices.

Attempts to circumvent the act can be met with harsh penalties. The first offence by a landlord or agency can be met with a fine of £5,000; a repeat offence within five years of the first can fetch an eyewatering fine of £30,000.

The upshot is a fairer market that’s more understandable for tenants, more valuable to landlords, and more ethical for everybody involved.

What can real estate agents charge landlords for?

Many landlords might struggle to manage their properties, either because they have a large portfolio or because they have more pressing commitments besides the property they own. Agents need to consider their fees for landlords versus the value and peace of mind they’re giving in return.

What landlords pay first depends on what they require. Some may only need tenants finding for their property, in which case they would be looking for reasonable letting management fees. Others may be in search of a more comprehensive property management service, which will mean fees to reflect the higher number of individual services included.

Agents can charge landlords for various services included in handling a property and sourcing tenants. These can include fees for:

  • Admin
  • Inventory
  • Finding tenants and arranging referencing
  • Rent collection and chasing up arrears

There is no hard and fast rule on how much letting agents charge, or indeed how much they’re allowed to charge, but typically they are set as percentages of rent for the property in question.

This makes shopping around fairly straightforward for landlords, and means they can expect to see fees ranging from less than 10% of monthly rent to up to around 25%.

As with many things, this will be more expensive for those based in London. Some agents may charge a flat fee for their services, but the majority go by percentage of rent.

Averages for services include:

  • Finding a tenant and arranging referencing will usually cost no more than one month’s rent
  • Full property management will typically cost from 10% to 15% of total rent received
  • Rent collection can cost anywhere from around 5% to 15% of total rent

Some agents will structure their fees in slightly different ways, such as charging a proportion of the first month’s rent plus a percentage of the total rent.

Other services, such as inventories, may come as a one-off flat charge. Understand these charges fully so that no hidden costs come out to surprise you later!

Are letting agent fees negotiable?

Yes – at least, they should be!

The market is incredibly competitive and landlords need to be sure that the return on their investment is at least as good as if they spent their own time.

The aforementioned Tenant Fees Act aimed, among other things, to level the playing field. Letting agents now need to incentivise landlords’ business and provide the best value for money that they can.

Landlords are always encouraged to shop around, not only for price but for services included. Some letting agents may include extra services as part of their package cost, whereas others may ask for extra payments to add them in.

How do I know I’m getting the right letting agents?

Choosing the right agents is about more than the letting agent fees you’ll pay for their services. There are lots of factors to consider for both sides of a tenancy agreement. They will often be the first point of contact for tenants and will be the ones making important arrangements such as utility services, repair work, and other solutions that may be necessary during a tenant’s time in a property.

If a letting agent isn’t administering a property to a satisfactory level, this can cause unnecessary friction for both the tenant and the landlord, making the chain of communication more difficult than it needs to be.

To ensure you’re getting the right letting agents for your needs, it pays to look into each of your prospective choices and investigate more closely.

How did you find them? Letting agents who have come through as a recommendation for trustworthy sources may be worth more of your consideration than the first one you found on Google or walking down your local high street.

Property management can cause some emotionally charged situations, such as when emergency work is needed to get a tenant’s hot water running again. Agents who manage these situations and end up with glowing praise are demonstrably performing their roles to a high standard. While all reviews need to be taken with a pinch of salt, letting agents with a high calibre of feedback ought to be noticed.

Another aspect to consider is whether a letting agent is registered with an official industry body. Some names to look out for are the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the UK Association of Accredited Letting Agents (UKALA), and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

Membership of these accredited bodies shows an effort to uphold good business practices and high professional standards. Many letting agents may also include themselves as part of the Property Ombudsman to demonstrate openness to alternative dispute resolution, or the Institute of Residential Property Management (IRPM) as part of continuous professional development for their staff.

There are many different bodies and qualifications out there pertaining to property management – see which ones your prospective agents display on their website.

Additionally, it’s hard to overstate the importance of a letting agent that is local to the area they serve and the property they manage. For property in Bolton, who better to help than agents who understand Bolton?

Local letting agents are more likely to understand the demographics of their location and be involved in local charities and initiatives.

They will also likely have sound understanding of the local authority. This ultimately means a better knowledge to guide landlords and a more dedicated approach to helping people find the right property for them.

Ultimately, the best letting agents will be the ones that give you the services you need for a price that is competitive and represents value for money. Even in this day of contact forms and email correspondence, it pays to pop into your local branch and speak face to face with an agent. As a landlord, this helps you to get a feeling for their customer service and their approach to business.

This ensures that your money is going to the right people and that your name is going on an honest contract.

Can I avoid fees by doing this myself?

As a landlord you can save money on letting management fees by undertaking the duties of managing a property yourself. The question is not whether you’re allowed, but rather whether you have the time and organisation necessary.

Estate agents don’t merely do the paperwork needed to get a tenant into a property. Landlords have a duty of care to the people living in their properties, and letting agents can help to shoulder some of that duty and keep things running smoothly.

This can range from the short notice, reactive work such as arranging repairs or maintenance work, to the general work that goes into ensuring a property is fit for purpose. Letting agents may not only have more time to visit a property and inspect it, but they will have a professional, experienced knowledge of what is needed to ensure a tenant is living safe and sound.

Lettings with Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton

We are award-winning and reputable estate agents who understand Bolton as thoroughly as the people who live here. Our Little Lever office is staffed with friendly, informed people who can help landlords, tenants, and purchasers with any and all property queries.

To learn more about us and our services, get in touch today.

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Should parents invest in buy-to-let to help their children with university?

bolton student houses

A recent survey found a massive two thirds of parents are considering investing in buy-to-let Bolton student houses to assist their child through university as fees and costs of living become more and more daunting.

The rising price of rent as well as high fees is making university a harder and harder prospect for many students who can often struggle to make ends meet with just their maintenance loan and a part time job.

The online mortgage broker Trussle found 66% of parents believe helping their child via purchasing a buy-to-let student property was a smart idea.

The idea is to let their child live in the property while they were at university for whatever in-house rent the family agreed, hopefully lowering their living costs.

Once their child had finished their course and were ready to move onto the next stage of their life the parents would then be able to rent out their house to other students and begin making returns on their investment.

The survey of 2,000 homeowners even found 53% of parents would consider downsizing their family home to help support their child through university.

Parents are not wrong that student buy-to-lets are a sound investment at the moment for the past few years they have outpaced the rest of the rental sector, with yields growing by as much as 17.86% larger than the rest of the rental sector.

The value of the private rental sector as a whole has also soared recently.

According to the Shawbrook Bank the total value of the private rental sector rose by 5.8% between August 2020 and August 2021 to a total of £1.4 trillion.

This is lower than the general rise of all properties which increased by almost 10% in the same period.

Shawbrook bank also found demand for rent was soaring with 42% of landlords saying they had more people than ever looking for a property, with a third of landlords adding they are looking to add another property to their portfolio in the next year.

Trussle did note in their survey that tax changes had skewed against landlords in recent years making buy-to-let investments not the super lucrative investments they used to be.

However, Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at Trussle said their data showed “that property is still seen as a safe and reliable way of generating extra income.”

The investments also make sense in the medium term through rental income and in the long term through the rise in property prices.

So, although the cost of entry may be higher than before, and the returns may not be as massive, there is still a huge demand for rental properties plenty of room to grow and huge amounts of confidence the rental market will remain strong.

One way to maximise your returns is to get the best advice on where to invest and how to manage the property.

The multitude of taxes and regulations that come with managing a buy-to-let student property can be mind boggling at first and this is where Mistoria can help.

Mistoria manages 1000 properties in the private and student rental sector and is a specialist in helping investors interested in getting involved in the market.

On top of this Mistoria can also give advice on where to invest, the dozens of university towns and cities across the UK present plenty of options but some offer vastly higher returns than others.

Rents may be high in London but property prices are even higher.

Whereas Bolton student houses and other areas like Liverpool and Salford, property prices are low but the ever-increasing student population means yields are only going to increase over time.

Call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

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State of the market: Is now the time to invest in Bolton property?

invest in Bolton property

With lockdowns now firmly behind us and no prospect of them returning in full force any time soon the property market has come roaring back – could now be time to invest in Bolton property?

There is certainly plenty of evidence the housing market is booming –although figures have been inflated by the rush to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday which came to an end in October.

According to HM Revenue and Customs, in the UK in last month an estimated 160,950 homes changed hands, which was almost 70% higher than in August and 68% higher than the previous September.

Compared to the 50% drop in sales which occurred in April and May 2020 due to the pandemic, it is clear the market has put Covid behind it.

Zoopla has predicted 2021 will be the strongest year in the housing market since 2007, with around £500bn in sales.

Now that the stamp duty holiday has come to an end it is expected the residential sales market will slow and price growth is set to stall making now a perfect time to invest in Bolton property.

Sensing opportunity of a market lull before further growth, investors are out in force cash buying property left right and centre after laying low throughout the pandemic.

Property is on the verge of flipping from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.

What does this mean for rental?

Research from Zoopla found rents were rising at their fastest pace in over a decade in all places in the UK except London.

They found rent would be on average £500 more per year by the end of 2021 compared to 2020.

Demand for rental properties across the country is expected to rise in the coming months.

As people decided to stay put during lockdowns, and with evictions made temporarily very difficult, tenants very rarely moved.

But now the economy is looking increasingly strong and lockdowns fading into memory more and more tenants will start looking for a place to move.

With a rise in demand, it could be the perfect opportunity for House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) property investment.

With the ability of being able to house multiple separate tenants into a single property, HMOs can easily absorb any rise in demand.

Combined with a rise in rents and the reproductive growth HMOs offer, they could be a wise investment.

If you are thinking of investing in property for rental and would like help and advice on how to manage a successful tenancy, please contact our experienced team or visit our contact page to find your local branch.

We manage 1000 properties and 3000 tenancies in the private and student rental sector and can help you with all aspects of rental property management.

Call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk

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Right To Rent changes from 30th June 2021

right to rent changes

Changes to Right to Rent legislation in the UK come into effect from 1st July 2021, ending the grace period put into place following the country’s exit from the EU. The change means that letting agents will move from checking nationality to checking the UK immigration status of all adult tenancy applicants.

Right to Rent is the legislation that requires landlords and agents to check the immigration status of prospective tenants to ensure they have the right to rent in the UK. The temporary changes meant that citizens of European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland only needed to prove their citizenship while applying for settled status in the UK. When the interim measures lift, it will mean that these people need to provide evidence of their UK immigration status too.

New guidance has been issued by the Home Office for agents and landlords to follow from 1st July 2021. The Home Office has been working with ARLA Propertymark, who says that “From this point, if someone is an EEA, EU, or Swiss national, you will need to see evidence of their UK immigration status rather than their national identification”. Anyone who has applied for and been granted settled status will have digital evidence of their application, and this should be shared digitally using the online Right to Rent services from the Home Office on the Gov.uk website.

Digital checks have been an option since December 2020 and involve the prospective tenant sharing a time code and their date of birth, which landlords use to check their immigration status online. However, not all applicants will use the digital service and may have other evidence of their immigration status, including physical documents.

Another change to Right to Rent checks is related to Covid-19. The way that checks were carried out was temporarily readjusted to make them safer during the pandemic. From 1st September, landlords and letting agents will be returning to face-to-face and physical document checks. This is in accordance with the easing of lockdown rules and social distancing measures, aligning with the roadmap for England set out by the Government. This change has been postponed twice, first set for 16th May, then 20th June.

Currently, Right to Rent checks can be made over video calls and tenants can send scanned documents or photos of documents using email or a mobile app. The online Right to Rent service can also be used during a video call if the prospective tenant has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system. When these temporary changes end on 1st September, landlords and their agents must either check the applicant’s original documents or check their right to rent online if given their share code for the service.

Both landlords and EEA/EU/Swiss citizens applying for tenancies should be aware of these changes related to Brexit and to Covid-19. The situation regarding Covid-19 could also be subject to change, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s happening.

Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton are Bolton property experts and can help guide both landlords and tenants through any property related matter. If you need help and advice on the new Right to Rent changes and what is means for you, please contact our team on 01204 800 766 or use our contact form.

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Two Views on the Ending of the Evictions Ban in the UK

rental property bolton

For the pandemic period, a “new normal” has been in place. This new normal has included an unprecedented financial package from the government to help individuals who have lost their incomes to support themselves and find new work. One helpful measure has been the “eviction ban” that prevents landlords from evicting tenants who can’t pay their rent. But as the pandemic nears its end this ban has been lifted prompting concerns on both sides of the divide. In this article our rental property Bolton experts look at the views of both landlords and tenants, each of whom has equally valid views on the government’s latest pandemic decision.

The view of tenants

As the Covid-19 pandemic draws to a close the government has decided to curtail the ban on evictions put in place during the pandemic to protect the homes of tenants. Under this law, tenants are not able to pay the rent due to pandemic circumstances – job loss or furlough – we’re not legally obliged to leave the property – that is no longer the case.

As of May 2021 landlords with tenants who do not pay rent or are in substantial arrears can be evicted from the property. This means that those who have suffered a loss of income as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and were not able to pay rent, as a result, might now find themselves homeless.

Who is affected?

According to recent reports, the lifting of the eviction ban could affect up to one million people in the coming weeks and months. It’s estimated that 400,000 people have already been served with an eviction notice by their landlords as a result of unpaid rent or rental arrears. This could precipice a housing crisis.

The pandemic has rocked the country as a whole and uncertain times lay ahead, but for renters, with low paying work or zero-hours contracts, their position was already precarious. The eviction ban was a lifesaver for many people as it allowed them some breathing space after losing a job and going onto benefits. While many of those people now have paid work again, rent arrears still put them at risk of eviction.

A housing crisis

Those same people who are only now getting back on their feet now have to stress about whether they will have a bed to sleep in after their shift or if they have to find a way of securing a new property on a low-income wage. Up to a million people are expected to be affected by the lifting of the eviction ban, raising the thorny question of where they are expected to go.

The view of landlords

When the pandemic struck it is fair to say it affected everyone. It’s also fair to say that the response to the pandemic was fair to governments, individuals, businesses, and landlords. It’s hard to imagine a landlord objecting to the eviction ban in the first few months of the pandemic. But now things are different.

As the pandemic grinds on and things appear to be looking more promising with the rollout of several vaccines, the government has decided to lift the eviction ban and give landlords the power to demand their rent from tenants once again. This has not been easy for tenants with high arrears but there are good reasons for it.

The counter-argument

It’s easy to take the side of tenants who have been affected by the pandemic and can’t pay rent temporarily, it’s even easier to take their side when the landlords in question are portfolio landlords with many properties on their books. But that isn’t always the case, and in fact, the majority are single property owners.

Single property owners use the rent from their tenants to pay for their own mortgage, so when this isn’t coming in their mortgage stops. With the eviction ban in place, landlords were finding that tenants didn’t respond to letters asking for rent because they knew they were safe from eviction – some even told their landlords to take mortgage holidays.

The future

As we leave the pandemic and the eviction ban is lifted it would seem to spell the end of a difficult financial time for landlords – but that isn’t necessarily the case. If tenants don’t pay their rent the landlord will be forced to evict them and shoulder the weight of arrears there are owed. Under present circumstances, there is no guarantee of a new reliable tenant either. What is needed is a benefits package from the government to help tenants pay landlords in the short term.

Rental Property Bolton

As experts in rental property Bolton based Mistoria Estate Agents understands the property industry in detail. We specialise in student accommodation but can offer expert help and advice on all forms of property letting. For more information on what we do, contact us on 01204 800 766 or use the details on our contact page.

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Why Little Lever?

residential sales little lever

Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton is based in the village location of Little Lever. This ever popular area is currently experiencing unprecedented demand with many of our instructed residential sales Little Lever being sold within 24 hours and exceeding asking price.

Despite the buoyant sales market countrywide, purchasers seem to be prioritising village locations to be closer to relatives and raise their families.

Bolton Masterplan

Little Lever has the added bonus of a draft framework masterplan in place to boost the economic prospects of the area by providing a growth strategy which will enhance the quality of village life whilst also providing much needed new housing and improved infrastructure. The ethos is to return to a more traditional style of town centre providing a social, economic and community hub with more local, independent shops and more emphasis on leisure and healthy spaces.

The existing parade of shops is earmarked for a complete overhaul with a new adjacent health centre and library which is already under construction.

There are plans for new outdoor seating spaces for people to meet and sit, making the town centre a destination for residents and visitors alike.

There are also several sites proposed for new build houses and apartments which will also provide an economic boost for local businesses.

Residential sales Little Lever

We are proud to be well established in this sought after area and have helped several vendors and landlords secure successful sales or lettings for their properties, and we hope to continue to do so during the next exciting phase of new development.

If we can assist with any property related enquiries please do not hesitate to give us a call on 01204 800766 or call in to see us in our busy Market Street branch or use the form on our contact page. The branch also offers a FREE valuation service, which you can request by clicking here. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, rent or let, the Mistoria Bolton team is on hand to help.

We are members of ARLA and NAEA Propertymark which means 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.

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Preventing Deposit Disputes with your Lettings

Bolton letting agents

Deposit disputes can be difficult and time-consuming for tenants, landlords and letting agents alike. Fortunately, with proper planning and preparation, most can be avoided altogether. Here are some things our Bolton letting agents think landlords and fellow agents should know about that reduce the likelihood of this happening.

Schemes, Agreements and Legislation

The Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) Scheme and Prescribed Information

As a landlord, you must put your tenants’ deposits in one of three government-approved tenancy deposit schemes (TDP), which protect the deposits, within 30 days of receiving them. Within the same timeframe, you must serve all ‘relevant persons’ the Prescribed Information which contains information about the scheme, including how the deposit is protected and how to apply to get it back. A ‘relevant person’ is any person, company or organisation that contributes to a tenant’s deposit payment, which often happens with student lettings. Failure to place the deposits in a TDP and serve the Prescribed Information within 30 days will incur penalties.

The Tenancy Agreement

Knowing what to include in the tenancy agreement will ensure that your tenants know what is your responsibility and what is theirs, which is crucial to preventing disputes. Two aspects of the tenancy agreement that are often overlooked are:

  • Joint and several liability
    This means that all of your tenants are equally responsible for adhering to the tenancy agreement, so for example if one tenant cannot pay the rent, then the other tenants are liable for that as well.
  • Cleaning and maintenance responsibilities
    This should state who is responsible for things like mowing the lawn and cleaning the gutters. In student lettings, it’s also important to state that every tenant is responsible for keeping communal areas clean and tidy because many of these are let to individuals by bedroom.

The Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) legislation

If your letting is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) then you as the landlord have extra legal responsibilities. This is primarily to reduce the risk of fire and ensure tenants have adequate facilities. It includes ensuring that annual gas safety checks are carried out and making necessary repairs to communal areas of the property.

Furthermore, the HMO may require a licence. This generally applies if it has five or more unrelated people living in it or two or more separate households living there; however, some local councils require all HMOs to have a licence so it’s worth checking with them.

Helpful Tips

Know your tenants’ contact information

A simple but oft-forgotten way to reduce the risk of deposit disputes is to maintain clear and open communications with your tenants. Obviously, you cannot do this if you don’t have their up-to-date contact details, such as email addresses and phone numbers. As students often change these, it is important to check in with them occasionally to ensure you have the correct information.

Market early for student lettings

Students often begin their property searches around October-time for the following academic year. This is ideal, because it means you can ensure everything is ironed out in plenty of time before the tenancy begins. Therefore, you should try to market your property early. If you need help, Mistoria Estate Agents have an expert marketing team who can help with compelling advertisements, shrewd social media management, to-let boards and floor plans and more, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Further Information about our Bolton letting agents

Bear these points in mind and you’ll drastically improve your chances of a successful, dispute-free tenancy for your property. However, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Mistoria Estate Agents specialises in student tenancies in the areas of Bolton, Liverpool and Salford. We offer extensive reference checks so you can find the “right” tenants for your property, and our Comprehensive Property Protection means all properties go through our inventory service to include photographic or video evidence, protecting both landlord and tenant.

If you’d like help, or simply wish to know more about, TDP schemes, tenancy agreements, HMO legislation or anything else related to student lettings, contact us on 0800 500 3015 so we can advise you further.

We are members of ARLA Propertymark which means 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.