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Dealing With Damp and Condensation in Your Property

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  

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

student buy-to-let

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whereas student property investments in Manchester and places like Bolton, Liverpool and Salford, property prices are low but the ever-increasing student population means yields are only going to increase over time.

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

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How to avoid deposit disputes

landlords north west

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.

North West Landlords

North West landlords, Mistoria Estate Agents, 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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Right To Rent changes from 30th June 2021

right to rent changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mistoria Estate Agents are North West property experts and can help guide both landlords and tenants through any property related matter. If you need help and advice on the new Right to Rent changes and what is means for you, please contact our team on 0800 500 3015 or use our contact form.

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

north west lettings agents

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

The view of tenants

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

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

Who is affected?

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

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

A housing crisis

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

The view of landlords

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

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

The counter-argument

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

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

The future

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

North West Lettings Agents

North West lettings agents, Mistoria Estate Agents understands the property industry in detail. We specialise in student accommodation but can offer expert help and advice on all forms of property letting. For more information on what we do, contact us on 0800 500 3015 or use the details on our contact page.

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Preventing Deposit Disputes with your Lettings

student letting agents

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

Schemes, Agreements and Legislation

The Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) Scheme and Prescribed Information

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

The Tenancy Agreement

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

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

The Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) legislation

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

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

Helpful Tips

Know your tenants’ contact information

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

Market early for student lettings

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

Further Information about our student letting agents

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

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

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

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Landlords: are you prepared for the EICR deadline?

property management company north west

In July 2020, the Government introduced new Regulations on electrical safety standards in the private rented sector. They require landlords to have the electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested at least once every 5 years. Currently, this applies to all properties that were let from 1 July 2020, but from 1 April 2021 it will also apply to pre-existing tenancies. With coronavirus restrictions ongoing, arranging the electrical safety inspection will require extra preparation, so it’s important you begin the work as soon as possible. Property management company North West, Mistoria Estate Agents has put together some useful information to help you understand and navigate the process.

The Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR)

The electrical safety inspection must be carried out by a qualified and competent electrician. For help finding one in your area, you can use the Registered Competent Person Electrical single mark and register, a Government-approved tool. From the inspection, you will obtain a report, known as the Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR). This will detail the results and set a date for the next inspection and test. As a landlord, you must supply a copy of this to:

  • the existing tenant within 28 days of the inspection and test
  • a new tenant before they move in
  • any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request for the report
  • the local authority within 7 days of receiving a request.

You should also keep a copy of the report to give the inspector when the next test is due. If the inspection reveals that further investigation or repairs are needed, you must ensure these works are completed within 28 days of receiving the report. You are then required to obtain written confirmation from the electrician stating that repairs have been completed, and supply this to the tenant and local authority within 28 days of completion.

Conducting electrical safety inspections under coronavirus restrictions

The inspection requires an electrician to enter the property to assess all electrical appliances – it cannot be done remotely. With stringent coronavirus restrictions still in place, landlords will need to take additional steps to ensure the inspection runs safely and smoothly.

If you have tenants moving out before the April deadline, you should leave a gap before new tenants move in, so that the inspection can be completed whilst the property is empty. For long-term tenants, you must inform them about the inspection and arrange a time and date that is most suitable for both of you. For example, the inspection could be completed whilst the tenant is out at work, or during a time when they are able to remain in one room for the duration, thus minimising any risk of possible infection. It’s also important to listen to any other concerns the tenant may have about the inspection and consider how they can be addressed.

How can a property management company North West help?

As a professional property management company North West, Mistoria Estate Agents understands the property industry regulations in detail. We can help you ensure your property meets these, including preparing for an electrical safety inspection. We specialise in Salford student accommodation but can offer expert help and advice on all forms of property letting. For more information on what we do, contact us on 0800 500 3015 or use the details on our contact page.

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The rise of virtual property viewings

student housing liverpool

Virtual property viewings can take various forms, but the most common is for the seller to show interested renters or buyers around the property via a video app such as WhatsApp, Facetime or Zoom. Their popularity has grown significantly over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling people to keep moving despite the circumstances, and many predict that they will continue to be popular once it is over. So, what’s their appeal? Specialists in student housing Liverpool Mistoria Estate Agents explains…

They’re COVID-safe

Virtual property viewings remove the risk of infection entirely and mean that you don’t need to worry about safety measures such as masks, handwashing and social distancing which, although absolutely necessary for in-person viewings, can make them trickier and more stressful.

Quicker, easier and more convenient

By conducting virtual viewings of properties that initially appeal to you, you can quickly draw up a shortlist of those that fit what you’re looking for. This saves time and effort you’d usually spend traipsing around multiple properties that aren’t suitable, and not having to travel between properties saves money on fuel and reduces carbon emissions. Also, virtual property viewings offer more flexibility. You’re more likely to be able to book in for a time and date that suits you, and if there are multiple people searching together, they don’t need to be together for the viewing – internet access is all that’s required! In addition, in many cases an agent will participate in the viewing along with the seller, so you can get answers to all your questions about a property as normal.

In-person viewings are still possible

Before purchasing or renting a property, it’s natural to want to have a look around in-person at least once, and this shouldn’t be an issue despite the ongoing pandemic. Virtual property viewings haven’t overtaken in-person viewings completely; they simply offer a quicker, easier, COVID-secure way of determining which properties really appeal to you. Most sellers, landlords and estate agents are still happy to conduct in-person viewings for those who are serious about a property, and these should involve rigorous safety procedures including social distancing, mask-wearing and sanitised surfaces to minimise the risk of infection.

Virtually viewing student housing Liverpool Mistoria Estate Agents

The pandemic shouldn’t stop you from moving; it simply means that everyone involved must take extra precautions where possible, and virtual viewings are a great way of doing this. Mistoria Estate Agents specialise in student housing Liverpool and we are offering virtual viewings to help guide people in their property search. To find out more, or for help and advice in any other related area, call us on 0800 500 3015 or use the details on our contact page.

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How to let or rent a property during lockdown in England

estate agents north west

In these difficult times, dealing with property-related matters, such as viewings and move-ins, can be very stressful, as there are additional safety considerations involved for all parties. With this in mind, Mistoria Estate Agents North West will explain what falls within the rules in England whether you are looking to rent or let a property in lockdown, and how to minimise the risk of infection in the process.

Advice for letting in lockdown

In England, government guidance says that estate agents, letting agents and removal firms can continue to work. This means you can let a property in lockdown to new tenants

The rules state there should not be more than one household in any home at any time, so ideally yourself and existing tenants should be absent from a property during an in person viewing. You should also ensure all surfaces are thoroughly disinfected before and after the viewing.

You can still bring in a professional cleaner if needed before new tenants move in, and tradespeople can carry out maintenance and repair work on the property provided they follow the safety guidelines.

Advice for renting in lockdown

In England, you are allowed to look to rent a property in lockdown. Carrying out activities related to renting a residential property is considered a reasonable excuse to leave home. However, the government says you should carry out initial property searches online if possible, rather visiting your local estate agent.

If you are considering renting a particular property, you can still book to attend a viewing in person, though it is advisable to request a virtual viewing first. Many agents and letting services have taken steps to enable this.

Should you wish to view a property in person, you must abide by the rules and take measures to avoid spreading the virus. This will include wearing a face mask, staying two metres away from other people, and washing your hands before and after the viewing.

When you are ready to move into a new property, people outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless it is absolutely necessary.

Properties available with Mistoria Estate Agents North West

Mistoria Estate Agents North West has a wide range of impressive student properties in Bolton, Liverpool and Salford available for rent and for buy-to-let agreements. We have implemented measures to ensure the safety of our existing tenants and those looking to rent with us. If you’d like to know more, please use our contact page or call us on 0800 500 3015.

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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New Mistoria HMO property video walk-through

We’re delighted to present a video walk-through of another recently renovated and refurbished HMO property.

This 4 bed, 1 bathroom, 1 reception room house share property in Salford is an example of the Mistoria Standard.

Tenants

This property is available for the next academic year (from 1/7/21). Please contact our Salford branch to request a viewing.

Rental properties from Mistoria are renovated to a similar standard. We have HMO and student house share properties available in Bolton, Liverpool and Salford. Contact your local branch or visit the websites for current listings.

Bolton – 01204 800 766

Liverpool– 0161 707 6106

Salford – 0161 707 6106

Landlords

Are you interested in investing in an HMO or student property like the one shown here? Speak to our Property Investment team on 0800 500 3015.

5 Wythburn Street, Salford