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Rent Reduction Negotiations Down

salford lettings agents

According to the latest Private Rented Sector Report, produced by ARLA Propertymark, the number of tenants negotiating for a rent reduction has reached its lowest rate since the organisation began compiling its monthly records. 

Just 1.1% of tenants negotiated a reduction in December of last year, representing a considerable year on year drop; in 2017 the figure was 2.6% and in 2018 it was 2.2%. Even in November, the number was still as high as 1.6%. This is somewhat surprising, as the number of estate agents reporting increasing rents hit 32%. In December 2018, only 18% of agents had reported price hikes. Even so, it appears that the time tenants spend in their rental properties has remained stable; the average is still 19 months. 

Perhaps in part due to increasing costs, tenant demand fell for the third consecutive month, with an average of just 56 prospective tenants per branch, one less than in November. Yet the number of properties managed per branch rose from 203 to 206 in the same period.

In recent months much has been made of a ‘landlord exodus’ from the BTL (buy-to-let) market, with investors supposedly increasingly choosing other methods of revenue production. However, ARLA’s figures suggest that this is not entirely the case. Whilst an average of four landlords per branch did sell their properties in December, this was the same in November. 

ARLA Accredited Estate Agents

At Salford lettings agents, Mistoria, we are members of ARLA Propertymark. That means that we meet higher industry standards than the law demands. Our experts undertake regular training to ensure they are up to date with best practice and complex legislative changes so they can offer you the best advice. We are also backed by a Client Money Protection scheme which guarantees your money is protected.  

If you are a landlord with a property which you’d like to let in Salford, Liverpool or Bolton, please get in touch with the team. Alternatively, if you are an investor interested in purchasing a property, please visit our investment site https://www.mistoriagroup.com/. Our North West rental properties regularly achieve combined yields of 13%. 

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Welcome to Mistoria Villa

On 13th February, 4pm – 7pm, we’ll be hosting an Open Day at our latest luxury development, Mistoria Villa, in the heart of bustling Bolton. If you’re a North West investor or landlord, come and join us and discover the opportunities for exceptional returns that our newest property can offer you. 

Mistoria Villa has undergone extensive redevelopment and is now home to 15 beautiful en suite rooms, spread over 4 floors, each with a large bed, wardrobe, chair, desk and modern furnishings. They are complemented by well-appointed kitchens and large communal social spaces. 

Located within the Trinity Gateway Zone of Bolton, the property is excellently located for easy access to the town centre, the University, and, thanks to its fantastic transport links, Manchester and further afield. The accommodation is therefore perfect for both students and professionals. 

The event will take place at:

Mistoria Villa

106A Castle Street

Bolton 

BL2 1JL

If you wish to attend the Open Day, please email natasha.cross@mistoriagroup.com.

To get just a flavour of what awaits you at the Open Day, watch our short video below.

 

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MIstoria Villa: Open Day

mistoria villa

On the 13th February 2020, 4pm – 7pm, we’re inviting our landlords and investors to look around Mistoria Villa, our latest brand new luxury development, aimed at students and young professionals. Will you be joining us?

The event will be held at:

Mistoria Villa

106A Castle Street

Bolton 

BL2 1JL

Following a full renovation and high specification upgrade, Mistoria Villa now boasts 15 luxury en suite bedrooms, complemented by well equipped kitchens and comfortable communal social spaces. The stunning bedrooms, each with a unique contemporary design, are spacious and airy and all come fitted with desks, chairs, wardrobes, large, comfortable beds and modern furnishings. 

Situated within the Trinity Gateway Zone, the property offers excellent road and rail transport links, with easy access both to the bustling Town Centre with its wide variety of shopping and leisure opportunities and the academically excellent University of Bolton, just a ten minute walk away. 

You can view further images of the property and find out more by clicking here

To confirm your attendance, please email natasha.cross@mistoriagroup.com.

We look forward to seeing you!

Know someone who might be interested in the event? Don’t forget to spread the word amongst your contacts.

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Improving Your Property’s EPC Rating

salford student accommodation

Since April 2018, it has been illegal for landlords to let properties which do not achieve a minimum performance rating of E on an EPC. Should landlords fail to comply with this legislation, local councils have the power to mete out fines as high as £5,000. 

What is an EPC?

An EPC, or ‘Energy Performance Certificate’ is a piece of documentation which tells potential renters how much it will cost to heat and light a property, as well as the amount of CO2 the property produces. An inspection of the property must be carried out by an accredited assessor and will take roughly two hours to complete. The EPC is then valid for ten years. The ratings which can be achieved range from G (the worst rating) to A (the best). The assessor will rate your property on a scale from 0 – 100; certain numbers fall within each band. A register of EPCs for England and Wales can be found here

Properties which fall into the upper bands are the most energy efficient, have the lowest energy bills and are arguably more attractive to tenants. A higher rental yield can often be commanded on high performing properties. 

If your property has a low EPC rating, don’t despair. There are a number of ways you can improve it and ensure your property meets regulations. Follow our advice below and remember, any changes you make to the property must be permanent to count towards your rating. 

Insulation

The best way to improve your property’s EPC rating is to install insulation. If your property was built before the 1920s, it is highly likely that it has solid walls. If this is the case, solid wall insulation can be fitted from inside each room. Rock wool should be used, at a minimum depth of 270mm. If the property was built after this date, it will probably have cavity walls. The cavity can be pumped with insulating expanding foam easily and cheaply. If you install insulation in a property which originally had none, you can improve your EPC rating by 15 points.

Roughly a quarter of a property’s heat is lost through the roof. You should therefore make fitting insulation in the roofspace, and in the attic, if you have one, a key priority. 

Windows

10% of a property’s heat is lost through its windows, so you need to make sure that they are suitably insulated. Though expensive, the best way to do this is to fit double glazing. Doing so will not only increase your EPC rating but will also make the property much warmer and quieter and reduce the chance of condensation forming. You could also consider secondary glazing, which is cheaper but less effective at keeping heat in the property. 

New Boiler

If you’ve got a boiler that’s been in place since you bought your property, it’s probably time to consider replacing it with a modern ‘A-rated’ one. The latest boilers are hugely efficient and usually have features such as a programmer and thermostat built in. If you have a hot water cylinder, you should also buy an insulating jacket for it – they can be purchased for as little as £20. Given that as much as 55% of a property’s energy costs go on heating, it’s of little surprise that fitting a new boiler and improving your central heating system has an enormous effect on your EPC rating. 

Lightbulbs

In 2018, it was announced that traditional halogen bulbs would gradually be phased out; they are now no longer available for purchase on the high street. You should instead opt for LED bulbs for your property. Not only are they brighter and more energy efficient, they can also last between twenty and thirty years, saving you money in the long term (halogen bulbs typically only last for two years). Fitting LED bulbs will only make a small difference to your EPC rating, but the savings you make are worth the initial higher purchase price. 

Renewable Energy

If you really want to bring your home into the 21st Century, you may decide to invest in some renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, though these are expensive and if you want to see their advantages, a long-term mindset is required. Fitting solar panels may increase the value of your property, especially in a few years’ time when there is an even greater pressure to move away from fossil fuel usage.  

Mistoria’s Services

If you need advice about bringing your property up to standard and improving your EPC rating, please speak to a member of our maintenance team, who will be happy to help. For further information about investing in Liverpool, Bolton and Salford student accommodation, contact us or visit https://www.mistoriagroup.com

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ARLA Accreditation Success

propertymark protected

We are delighted to announce that, after three months of hard work, five members of our team have achieved ARLA Membership (MARLA) status. Congratulations go to Mish, Tanya, April, Julie and Daniella, who each successfully passed four exams after their extensive Level 3 training programme on both property management and sales. The four units covered; Health and Safety, Security and General Law; Legal Aspects of Letting and Management; Residential Property Letting Practice; and Residential Property Management Practice.  

Why You Should Use an ARLA Propertymark Protected Letting Agent

When you let your property, you want to know that those to whom you entrust the management of the process know what they’re doing and know how to manage the issues which regularly arise. By choosing a company such as Mistoria, who have voluntarily chosen to become regulated by ARLA, you can rest easy knowing that they are committed to raising standards within the industry and providing the best possible service to you. 

ARLA Propertymark Protected agents offer a highly professional service and have the ability to manage your property portfolio with a high degree of skill. We work to higher standards than the law demands to ensure the best possible experience for our landlords. 

But there are also advantages for tenants. By choosing to be regulated by ARLA, Propertymark Protected companies commit themselves to helping the tenancy run smoothly and hassle free. For example, any maintenance issues which may arise will be resolved quickly and efficiently. If you want to avoid a terrible agent who does not care for your needs and who may not follow the law, choose an ARLA Propertymark Protected agent. 

The Propertymark Protected Offering

All agents who are recognised as Propertymark Protected are backed by a Client Money Protection scheme, are members of an independent redress scheme which has been approved by the Government, attend regular training courses to ensure continued professional development, are informed of the law and new legislation to ensure they remain compliant, submit financial records to Propertymark and adhere to a nationally recognised code of practice. As a result, their service is as transparent as possible and all they do is subjected to review by an external body. 

Further Qualifications

Other members of the Mistoria team are now also working their way towards NAEA Membership status. The in-depth training programme requires great effort on their part, but will be worth it in the end!  We’ll let you know how they’re getting on in the new year. In the meantime, if you have any questions, contact us

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How To Protect Your Property Over Christmas

liverpool letting agents

The Christmas holidays are nearly here, which means thousands of students will be heading home later this month. But that can cause quite a headache for landlords, as many houses will be left vacant for a number of weeks. So what can you do to safeguard your property this festive season? Read on to discover Mistoria Estate Agents’ advice. 

Keeping Burglars Out

Perhaps the biggest problem landlords face during any vacant period is that of the increasing chance of burglaries. This is especially the case in student houses, because it is easier for thieves to guess when properties will be empty. But the problem is exacerbated during winter, when the clocks have gone back and burglars can operate under the cover of darkness. The best way to protect your property during this period is to make the house look occupied. You can do this inexpensively by purchasing timers for lights that plug into the mains. Lights with built-in timers are also available. Depending on how sophisticated you want the system to be, you might have the lights turn on in a pattern which reflects that of ordinary use throughout the evening. If you haven’t already installed them, it would also be a good idea to fit some motion detecting lights outside the property too, especially near doors and windows. 

Before they leave, you should also advise your tenants not to leave their valuables and possessions in view and to ensure that they lock all of the property’s windows and doors. If you have installed a burglar alarm, make sure your tenants know the code and encourage them to make use of the alarm when they leave the property. 

Festive Issues

Students love a string of fairy lights and Christmas gives them a great opportunity to get creative with their displays. Remind them to buy high quality lights from a reputable source which are appropriate for their location – some lights are only suitable for indoor use. Advise your tenants not to overload plug sockets when they put up their lights, too. When it comes to leaving their property for the holidays, they may forget to unplug their decorations. This is of course a major fire risk, so you need to make sure you remind them to switch off any electrical equipment that doesn’t need to be on throughout the property.

Fire Safety

Of course, Christmas lights are not the only source of fire in the home. With no one around to discover blazes in a vacant property, the results can be catastrophic. But you can reduce the chance of a fire breaking out, just by following your duties as a landlord. You are legally required to fit smoke and fire detectors throughout your property and to check them regularly. Further, you are expected to to carry out gas safety checks and organise for a registered electrician to carry out PAT Testing, to ensure that all the electrical appliances in the property are functioning correctly. 

You may also consider switching to LED bulbs. They produce more light, but less heat than traditional bulbs. Not only will you save money on your electricity bills, but the chance of them overheating and causing a fire if they’re accidentally left on over the holidays is also massively reduced. 

More Information

For more information about getting your property ready for winter, read our blog post. If you have any other questions about letting an investment property to students, get in touch with the team at Salford, Bolton and Liverpool Letting Agents, Mistoria.

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How To Decorate Economically

letting agents salford

When decorating their student rental properties, many inexperienced landlords spend too much time and money creating an aesthetic that appeals to them, but not to their tenants. 

We’ve written this blog post to provide landlords with guidance on best practice when decorating, to ensure they save money and attract tenants.

Paint vs Wallpaper

You should always avoid wallpaper when decorating your property because of its tendency to tear and mark. It’s difficult to repair such issues without having to repaper the entire wall, but it’s easy to touch up knocks with a light application of paint. In the void period between tenancies, landlords often wish to refresh the look of their property. This is easy with a new coat of paint; the same effect cannot be quickly achieved with wallpaper without quite some expense. 

When choosing a paint colour, landlords should pick one which is neutral and bright and which does not clash with many other colours. Whether the property is modern or traditional, a neutral tone such as magnolia will always look good and will not look dated after a few years.    

Saving Money On Paint 

If you are a portfolio landlord with a number of different properties, it is best to use the same colour scheme throughout all of them, buy your paint in bulk and keep an eye out for special promotions and discounts. Choose a popular colour from a well-known brand so that you know shops will always have it in stock. When a tenant moves out at the end of their tenancy, don’t change the colour of paint you originally used. By using the same colour, you won’t have to use several coats, saving you valuable money. 

Before You Begin

Before you start painting, check the walls for signs of damp. Covering them up and leaving the damp to spread could cost you an eye-watering sum of money later down the line. If it is ignored, it will lead to cracking paint, mould, and will eventually leave the house unfit for human habitation. If you do discover damp, fixing the issue should be your number one priority. The room may have to be replastered and fitted with a new damp course. Remember to allow the plaster to dry completely before painting it. 

Use a Paint Sprayer

Before you begin painting, wipe down the walls and fill in any small holes. Then, invest in a paint sprayer. Whilst there will be some expense when you first buy the product, you will thank yourself later, when decorating large expanses of wall becomes easier and ultimately cheaper (using a paint sprayer is far more efficient than using a roller). Take the same precautions when paint spraying as you would when painting normally, such as using sheets to cover carpets and affixing masking tape around windows, skirting boards and light switches. 

Flooring

Once you have decorated the walls of your property, you may notice the flooring looking the worse for wear. Consider replacing the carpet with something new, but again, keep it plain (but don’t go for something too light, as stains will show up easily).  Don’t be tempted to buy the cheapest carpet though, as it’ll quickly wear down in high traffic areas. 

Don’t have the time to decorate?

If you don’t have time to decorate yourself, come to Mistoria letting agents, Salford. Once we have sourced suitable properties for investors and landlords, we then fully decorate them in a style that we know appeals to tenants, leaving you to relax while we do the hard work for you. Contact us now on 0800 500 3015. 

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Making Your Property Ready For Winter

investment hmo manchester

As Winter begins, it’s time for landlords to start thinking about getting their properties ready for the cold weather.

We’ve written this blog post to explain a few of the steps you can take to ensure your property is not affected by the adverse conditions.  

Check The Roof and Gutters

You should make sure that your property’s gutters are free of leaves and any other debris to prevent rain overflow. Water damage and damp can be particularly problematic as the results are not immediately obvious; tenants may therefore not report the issue until it has become a major problem. 

Damp and water ingress can also be caused by missing roof tiles. These are easy to spot and fix. Slightly harder to see are cracked tiles, so they require a thorough inspection. Splits can become far worse during winter, as water freezes and expands, breaking the tiles even further. 

Lights

As the nights get shorter, it’s worth ensuring that if your property has external lights, they are working properly. This will make tenants feel safer and should hopefully reduce the chance of break-ins. Whilst tenants are expected to change their own lightbulbs within their property, doing so in external fittings can sometimes be difficult. It might therefore be worth taking the time to change them yourself. 

Check Pipes 

You should check all the pipes to which you have access to ensure they are not leaking or broken. As they are prone to freeze up and burst during Winter, it may be worth fitting lagging  Ensure they are properly secured to the wall and that the brickwork around them is showing no sign of cracking where water might get in.  

Void Periods

It’s likely that student tenants will go home over the Christmas holidays. Before they vacate the property, you should advise them to set the heating to 7-10 degrees, to ensure that the property’s pipes don’t freeze up. Ask that they don’t leave any valuable items in sight in their rooms to reduce the chance of the property being broken into. Remind them to close and lock all windows and doors.  

Check the Heating

The property’s heating system may not have been used for quite some time, so it’s worth having the boiler serviced, checking all pipes and bleeding the radiators, which should warm up the house more efficiently. Take the time to ensure the property’s insulation is in order, especially in the loft, through which a quarter of the heat in a house can escape. Also consider fitting draught excluders to doors.

Ventilation

When it’s cold, tenants often don’t open their windows for months on end. However, if they remain closed, condensation can quickly build up. We’ve previously written a blog post about damp and condensation. You’ll find lots of helpful advice about protecting your property during the colder months there. 

Fix Small Issues

You may have let lots of little issues build up over time that you haven’t got round to doing. It’s a good idea to sort these issues out whilst you carry out your Winter checks. If they are not addressed, small problems can quickly become much worse when the cold weather sets in. 

Mistoria’s Services

If you are looking for an investment HMO, Manchester, Liverpool and Bolton based Mistoria Estate Agents are here to help. Once you have made your purchase, we have a dedicated Maintenance team who can assist with any issues around your property. Contact us now to find out more.

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Letting To Students: Dispelling the Myths

student housing Salford

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, Salford, Liverpool and Bolton based Mistoria Estate Agents. 

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Dealing With Damp and Condensation in Your Property

Liverpool letting agent

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are falling from the trees and there’s a noticeable chill in the air. That must mean it’s Autumn! It also means it’s time to start thinking about ways to prevent damp and condensation in your property. 

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  

Salford, Bolton and Liverpool letting agent, Mistoria 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.