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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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Dispelling the Myths

student housing Salford / student housing north west

Many landlords often worry about letting out their properties to students, fearing that they will not receive rental payments, or that their houses will be destroyed during wild parties. However, issues like these are exceptionally rare. We thought we’d dispel some of the popular myths about renting to students in this blog post.

Damage to the Property

A landlord’s worst nightmare is undoubtedly that their property will be destroyed by a particularly wild student party. However, with the rising cost of living, students are increasingly opting to drink and party less, with some studies suggesting that 30% of the student population does not drink at all. With less spare money, students are also more conscious of the need to care for their house to protect their deposit. 

A recent survey by student utility supplier Glide also recently showed that 82% of students would rather stay in to binge watch TV and films than go out to party. Therefore, the chance of a landlord’s property being ruined is now much reduced. 

Payment Problems 

The typical image that society has of a student is of one surviving off pasta because they’ve spent all their money on alcohol. That, alongside the fact that this is the first time many will have had payment responsibilities before, leaves landlords worried that their student tenants will not have enough money to pay their rent. However, such issues are actually relatively rare in student properties, because tenants receive student loan payments termly. Furthermore, if students do miss their rent payments, they are almost always backed by strong guarantors – their parents. 

Noise Complaints

Students are typically known for playing loud music and screaming and shouting late into the night. But as they reduce their alcohol intake and opt to stay in for film nights with friends, landlords should actually see a reduction in the number of noise complaints they receive from neighbours. 

Finding the Perfect Tenants   

One of the best ways to look after your property is to engage with your tenants. If they feel like you are listening to their queries and worries, they are more likely to trust you and therefore respect both you and your property. Having a good relationship with their landlord is one of the key things students look for when renting a home. 

Still Have Concerns?

If you are worried about letting your property to students, come and speak to the experts in student housing North West based Mistoria Estate Agents. 

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Dealing With Damp

Liverpool letting agent

During the colder months damp and condensation can become a problem in your property. Here we take a look at ways you can avoid these issues…

Condensation

The most common cause of damp in a property is the build-up of condensation. It should be made clear to your tenants that it is their responsibility to prevent condensation in the property. Once you have installed extractor fans in bathrooms, stress that tenants should switch these on every time they shower or take a bath. It might be worth investing in an extractor fan that switches on automatically in time with the bathroom light. That way, you won’t have to rely on your tenants remembering to do so. Extractor fans should also be fitted in the kitchen above the hob. Boiling water causes lots of steam to be produced, which will settle on the walls and windows if not removed. 

Advise your tenants to open their windows regularly, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. During the colder months, they may be reluctant to do so, but windows need only be open for ten minutes a day for a noticeable difference in the levels of condensation build-up. Remind them that they need to close and lock all of their windows before leaving their house each day. 

Tell your tenants not to put wet clothing on radiators. The water vapour mixing with the hot air will rise and settle on walls and windows. You may wish to fit a clothes line to encourage your tenants to dry their clothes outside.

Rising Damp  

Rising damp occurs when groundwater seeps through the bricks and mortar of a building because its damp course has failed. It is your responsibility as a landlord to make the building watertight again by fitting a new damp course. The cost should not be passed on to your tenants. You should ask a professional for their advice; rising damp is often misdiagnosed and fitting a new damp course could end up being a needless expense. 

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp occurs when water enters a building via an external wall or the roof and settles inside. This will invariably be because of a fault within the building, such as holes in the roof, damaged gutters, or cracks in the external render. Again, it is your responsibility to ensure that these issues are remedied and that the house is fit for habitation. Fixing penetrating damp is usually a simple process. Make a note of anywhere that the damp appears and find that point on the exterior of your property. Around this area you should be able to quickly find the fault and fix it yourself with some simple DIY. For serious problems, consult an experienced surveyor. A check of the whole building may be required to ensure the damp has not become wet rot, which would be disastrous for the structural integrity of your property.     

Resolving Damp Issues  

Bolton letting agent, Mistoria Estate Agents have a dedicated maintenance team on hand to resolve any property issues for our landlords and tenants. Contact us now to find out how we can help you. 

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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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How to avoid deposit disputes

What to do at the start and end of a tenancy to avoid a deposit dispute

Less than 1% of all tenancy deposits end in dispute, but when it does happen it can end up being an expensive nightmare for all parties involved.

Many potential disputes can be avoided and one of the quickest ways to make sure conflicts don’t happen is to ensure all the correct information is provided to everyone at the right times.

Keeping audit trails of any changes made to the property, both by the landlord and tenant, can drastically improve the chances of a dispute being sorted quickly and reduce the chance of any acrimonious feelings between those involved.

This needs to happen from day one until the last day of the tenancy. Make sure the new tenant knows what is expected straight away. By doing this it will help them as much as it will help you.

Here’s what needs to be done right at the start and right at the end of a tenancy:

When the new tenant checks in

Having a detailed as possible report about the condition of the property is important. This goes further than a full inventory and cleanliness. Make notes of the last time it was professionally cleaned as well as being up front about any marks or scuffs on the upholstery so any new ones can be noted.

Also point out brand new decorations down to the date it was done so it becomes clear what they are getting.

Making a note of different odours could also be a good idea, although smells can be subjective and caused by many things a distinct new one will be hard to avoid.

Always back all of this up with as much documentation and images as possible.

When the tenant checks out

This is where conducting a thorough inventory at the start will pay off. As the house is inspected, refer to it constantly, and if you had a hand in making it to start with you should know exactly what to look for.

As before, keep a note of every detail and compare your new document with the old one once you are finished.

Also, even if it looks clear make sure you touch it! Stickiness and pet hairs are often hard to detect but can be costly to remove.

What to do if you think a deposit deduction is needed

If you find yourself in a situation where the property has not been returned in a satisfactory state, you may need to deduct from the deposit.

This process can often cause disputes and conflict between landlord and tenant, so make sure you’re completely sure and have the documentary evidence to back it up.

Clear, concise reasoning as to why the landlord thinks a deduction is vital.

On top of this pointing out exactly where in the tenancy agreement the landlord believes the tenant has breached will be needed.

If the tenant decides to dispute the claim, then it will need to be taken to an adjudicator.

At Mistoria Estate Agents, part of our landlord service is to conduct inventories and property checks on behalf of our landlords. We carry out thorough check in and check out inspections to ensure there is official paperwork, documentation and photographs at the start and end of every tenancy. Whilst it can feel like an uncomfortable process, we understand how vital it is for both landlord and tenant to be clear and consistent when it comes to the condition of a property.

If you own a rental property and would like help and advice on how to manage a successful tenancy, ensuring you meet all the legal requirements and remain up to date on guidance and legislation, please contact our experienced team. 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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Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton: Gold Winners in the British Property Awards, again!

Mistoria Estate Agents have just won another British Property Award, this time for their Lettings division in the Bolton (South) category.

Their team performed outstandingly throughout the extensive judging period, which focused on customer service levels.

Mistoria Estate Agents have now been shortlisted for a number of national awards which will be announced shortly.

The British Property Awards provide agents throughout the UK with an invaluable opportunity to compare the service that they provide against the service provided by their local, regional and national competition.

Agents who go that extra mile and provide outstanding levels of customer service are rewarded with our accolade, which acts as a beacon to highlight these attributes to their local marketplace.

THE BRITISH PROPERTY AWARDS are one of the most inclusive estate agency awards providers as they do not charge to enter. This has enabled their award to be structured in a manner that ensures maximum participation, on average judging over 90% of agents that meet their minimum criteria on a local level.

The team personally mystery shops every estate agent against a set of 25 criteria to obtain a balanced overview of their customer service levels. The judging criteria is both comprehensive and detailed exploring different mediums, scenarios and time periods to ensure that agents have been rigorously and fairly judged.

Robert McLean from The British Property Awards said “Our awards have been specifically designed to be attainable to all agents, removing common barriers to entry, such as cost, to ensure that we have the most inclusive awards. Our awards have also been designed to remove any opportunity for bias or manipulation. If an agent has been attributed with one of our awards, it is simply down to the fantastic customer service levels that they have demonstrated across a prolonged period of time. Winning agents should be proud that their customer service levels provide a benchmark for their local, regional and national competition”.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BRITISH PROPERTY AWARDS PLEASE CONTACT 0800 987 11 22

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Property market continues to boom despite end of SDLT holiday

bolton property prices.

It’s fair to say the housing market is experiencing a remarkable surge at the moment. And in the words of our own agents; people are making up their own prices… and buyers are paying it, and then some!

The unprecedented boom in the price of property has been put down to the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday, introduced by the Government at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, to keep the market moving during the numerous lockdowns. Nobody could have predicted the impact of this move.

The temporary nil rate for SDLT was introduced in April 2020 when the UK went into its first lockdown, allowing anyone to purchase a primary residential property up to the value of £500,000 without paying stamp duty. From 1st July, the nil rate band was reduced to £250,000 and will be reduced again on 1st October to return to the standard threshold of £125,000 (except for first-time buyers who have a threshold of £300,000).

Whilst potentially saving buyers thousands of pounds on the cost of purchasing a new property, it seems buyers are diverting the money “saved” in stamp duty and putting into the price they are willing to offer vendors. Add into the mix low interest rates, a stagnant stock market, savings made during lockdowns and no overseas travel, buyers suddenly have more disposable income that they are eager to put into a property purchase.

This action has driven up the cost of property to extraordinary levels, across the country. Mistoria’s own estate agents are seeing property selling for 30, 40, £50k more than it previously would have. Sarah Morris-Turner, branch manager at Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton said, “We can’t believe what we’re witnessing in the residential sales market at the moment. Every property that we bring to market we’re having to offer block viewings on due to the demand. From these viewings we’re receiving multiple offers, all of which are over the asking price!”

As original SDLT rates return on 1st October 2021, it was predicted that the end of the SDLT holiday would slow the market but, from Mistoria’s standpoint at least, this shows no sign of happening anytime soon.

Whilst rising prices has made for a seller’s market and boom time for the industry, there are concerns from an agent’s perspective. Morris-Turner continues, “It’s quite challenging valuing property in the current market. Some agents are valuing quite erratically giving false expectations to clients. As agents we have a responsibility to value property accurately, so as not to end up in negative equity. As and when the market dips, negative equity is a real concern for many buyers that suddenly find themselves with a property worth less than they paid for it.”

This call for caution is echoed by Dewi Caughter, branch manager at Mistoria Estate Agents in Cheadle. He says, “Whilst we are currently seeing property sell within seven days of coming to market, and for far more than the asking price, we predict next year may be more precarious for those currently paying overinflated prices for property. Should the market plateau, clients may face negative equity on their mortgages. It will be interesting to see how the market adjusts.”

There’s no doubting the SDLT holiday has done what it was intended to do in contributing towards keeping the housing market moving during the last 18 months of the Coronavirus pandemic but the long-term repercussions of such a rise in the cost of property is yet to be seen.

Bolton property prices

If you’re considering buying or selling a property, the agents at Mistoria Estate Agents can help you navigate, make sense of and accurately value or make an offer on Bolton property prices. Speak to our friendly and expert team on 01204 800 766 or email bolton@mistoria.co.uk. You can find a Mistoria Estate Agent in Bolton, Cheadle, Liverpool, Salford and Walkden.