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Periodic Inspections: A Guide

salford student letting agents

If you’re a landlord that lets out a property to students, you’ll be well aware of the importance of carrying out periodic inspections throughout each tenancy. Doing so allows you to check your house in good condition and your tenants are complying with the tenancy agreement. 

At Liverpool, Bolton and Salford student letting agents, Mistoria, we conduct these inspections on your behalf, on a quarterly basis. We  evaluate the overall condition of the property, including both the interior and exterior, looking out for maintenance issues, tenants’ living conditions, damp and mould, leaks, fixtures and fittings, the garden’s condition and fair wear and tear. After our inspection, we will provide you with a report detailing any issues we found.

Repairs and Maintenance Issues

The main reason we carry out periodic inspections is to spot any obvious maintenance issues. It is the perfect opportunity to uncover and repair any minor problems, that if ignored could become much worse. It’s always easier and cheaper to repair problems as early as possible. Whilst most tenants do report the serious issues they find, relying on them for information isn’t enough to ensure that everything is in working order. We often find that they do not report minor issues until it’s too late. Moreover, some tenants, through no fault of their own, will be completely unaware of potential problems. It is always wise to have a fresh pair of eyes to look over the property.

Tenants’ Living Conditions

Whilst the property may be in a good condition, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your tenants are looking after your investment. Although you may not be able to evict them based on their living conditions, you may decide that you do not wish to renew their contracts at the end of the tenancy agreement. Of course, you cannot tell your tenant how to live if they are untidy, but we will inform them that their actions will damage the property if this is the case. For example, if they do not clean the bathrooms, this could result in staining of the fixtures and fittings.

Damp and Mould

Some of the most common issues we come across are damp and mould, the prevention of which tenants tend to overlook. Many tenants simply don’t realise how dangerous and serious mould infestations can be, but you must be aware of them. We will look around windows and sinks and pay particular attention to rooms prone to moisture, such as the bathroom and kitchen, as well as pipework hidden away in kitchen units. We’ve produced more detailed advice about preventing mould, damp and condensation in a separate blog post, which you can read here. 

Leaks

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

Fixtures and Fittings

We check all of the property’s fixtures and fittings to make sure they have not been damaged and are still in good working order. We will do the same for any other appliances you may have provided.  

The Garden

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

Fair Wear and Tear

There is a fine line between fair wear and tear and actual damage, so one of the objectives of our inspections is to assess whether issues we discover in the property have been caused by tenant negligence. You can only make your tenants liable for damage, not fair wear and tear. As we look around the property, we will consider which issues were caused by reasonable use of the property on a daily basis (such as scuff marks on the walls).

More Information

Our maintenance team has inspected hundreds of properties and knows exactly what to look out for, ensuring your property is kept in top condition and is fit for purpose. If you are a landlord and would like to discuss in more detail the service Mistoria Estate Agents can offer you, please contact us on 0800 500 3015.

You can be assured that you are receiving the highest quality service when you use Mistoria Estate Agents because 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. 

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Electrical Safety Legislation for Landlords

student houses liverpool

Under recently proposed Government legislation, which looks set to be approved, landlords in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) must arrange for an electrical safety assessment to be carried out by a qualified and competent inspector. Failure to comply with the new laws could leave landlords facing hefty fines.

Mandatory Testing 

The new legislation, formally called The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020, is due to be rolled out over the next two years. Inspections will be compulsory for all new and renewed tenancies from 1st July 2020 and for existing tenancies from 1st April 2021. 

As a result of the legislation, every fixed electrical installation must be assessed every five years and should meet the 18th Edition of Wiring Regulations. The qualified person who carries out the inspection must also produce an electrical installation condition report (EICR) for the landlord, which presents the inspection’s findings and which must be given to any existing tenants within 28 days. The landlord should keep a copy for their records until the next inspection. If a new tenant moves into the property, they must be supplied with a copy of the most recent report prior to moving in. Furthermore, should the local housing authority request a copy, this must be supplied within seven days; if a prospective tenant makes the request, it must be provided within 28 days.   

If a landlord fails to organise for the inspections to take place and cannot provide a written report to the local housing authority when asked, they will be liable to pay fines of up to £30,000. 

Industry Response 

ARLA have for the most part been supportive of the proposals. Chief executive, David Cox stated “It will create a level playing field for all agents and landlords as well as ensuring improved safety standards for tenants.” He stressed that landlords who act professionally will hardly be affected by the legislation and that many already carry out effective testing voluntarily. ARLA were initially concerned that there would be insufficient engineers to carry out the testing, but assurances have been made by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government that this will not be an issue. 

Although they do not believe it is the intention of the bill, the RLA has highlighted the fact that in its current form, the legislation invalidates any existing non-mandatory EICRs that do not meet the requirements of the 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations. These Regulations were only introduced in 2019, rendering the majority of EICRs invalid. It is hoped that when the legislation’s wording is finalised, it will allow for existing EICRs to remain valid. 

Issues Discovered

If the competent inspector discovers an issue with your property, you need to ensure that they carry out the work, or further investigations, within 28 days. This timeframe may need to be reduced if that is the recommendation of the report. Once the remedial work has been carried out, a new written report is necessary which declares that the property now meets the legislation’s requirements and can be deemed safe. This report must then be submitted to the local authority. 

How Mistoria Can Help

If you would like some more information about obtaining an EIRC and your duties as a landlord, please feel free to get in touch with the team at Mistoria Estate Agents on 0800 500 3015. We have a dedicated maintenance team who will be able to ensure your property is compliant with any legislation the Government demands. We can also help if you are looking to purchase student houses in Liverpool, Salford and Bolton. 

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.

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Take a Tour Of Mistoria Villa

Following a full renovation and high specification upgrade, we can now unveil our flagship development in Bolton: Mistoria Villa. 

Perfect for students and professionals alike, the luxury accommodation boasts 15 spacious en-suite rooms and studios, complemented by well equipped kitchens and comfortable social spaces. The stunning bedrooms, each with a unique contemporary design and finished to a superb standard, are light and airy and all come fitted with desks, chairs, wardrobes, large, comfortable beds and modern furnishings.

A communal living area has also been added, providing the perfect space to socialise, watch TV or catch up with a book. Whether you want to relax with friends or unwind on your own, Mistoria Villa has it all. 

Situated within the Trinity Gateway Zone, the property offers excellent road and rail transport links, including the A666 to Manchester and beyond and Bolton Trinity Street train station, which is just a five minute walk away. Residents can also benefit from easy access both to the bustling Town Centre, with its wide variety of shopping and leisure opportunities and the academically excellent University of Bolton. 

To make life as easy as possible for you, your rent includes all of your utility bills as well as a fibre optic WiFi connection at no extra cost.

Call the office today to speak to one of our helpful team and arrange a viewing.

Take a tour of the property:

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New Services at our Bolton Office

bolton student house

Our popular Bolton branch is about to get even busier! Known for their attention to detail,  exceptional customer service and expert local knowledge, the team of property professionals at Mistoria Bolton are expanding their service offering. Although they are already known for their residential sales and lettings, consistently negotiating the best price for sellers and finding buyers their dream homes, they have recently introduced a new auction facility and have started handling commercial tenancies and HMOs. 

New Auction Facility  

In partnership with Pattinsons, the branch has now also launched a Modern Method Auction service facility. This comes with a number of advantages over the more traditional property sale method, including; your sale will be handled with no agency fee; you have the power to set your reserve price to get the price you want; a fast timeline, with both 28 and 56 day auction periods available; immediate exchange of contracts; and complete transparency. 

With an auction, the lengthy sales process, lack of buyer commitment, high risk of an aborted sale and no firm sale date, all well known pitfalls of the traditional sales method are avoided. You can find out more about the auction process here

HMOs

The branch has now also started to undertake work on every aspect of HMO ownership, from the initial purchase of the property, through renovation and conversion works, to the finding and vetting of suitable tenants. This type of property is particularly popular both amongst students looking to live with their friends during their time at university and young working professionals hunting for affordable accommodation. Given the plans for expansion at the academically excellent University of Bolton as well as the new jobs currently being created in the area, which are attracting a new population of young people, there has never been a better time to invest in a Bolton HMO property. For more information on the HMO opportunities offered by Mistoria, please visit our dedicated property investment website by clicking here

Commercial Tenancies

As Bolton town centre and the surrounding regions develop and thrive, the number of commercial tenancies the branch has been handling has increased massively. With the town set for further growth and expansion, the team is now calling on all individuals either looking to let or rent such property, whether it be office space, retail locations, industrial warehouses or leisure facilities, to get in touch.  

Talk to the Team

Whether you are a seller or buyer, investor or landlord, or you’re looking for a Bolton student house, please contact the team on 01204 800 766; they’ll be more than happy to answer any queries you may have. 

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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.