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Landlords: Are You Up To Date With MEES Regulations?

north west letting agents

The domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) regulations set the minimum energy efficiency level for private rented property under the Energy Act 2011. There have been changes to these regulations that you need to be aware of, so here our North West letting agents go over the important details for you.

When you need to take action

Since 1 April 2018, it has been unlawful for landlords to grant a new lease for properties that have an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating below E, unless the property is registered as an exemption. On 1 April 2020, the prohibition on letting F and G properties was extended to all relevant properties, irrespective of whether there’s been a change in tenancy.

If your property is let on an assured tenancy, a regulated tenancy, or a domestic agricultural tenancy, and it is legally required to have an EPC, then it’s covered under the regulations. If it’s covered and has an EPC rating of F or G, you will need to take measures to bring it up to E or above before you can let, or continue to let, the property.

It’s possible that the MEES Regulations will be upgraded further in 2022 to C or D, so now is the time to take action to ensure your property is compliant.

What you need to do

First of all, it’s important to remember that a cost cap of £3,500 (including VAT) applies, so you’ll never be required to spend more than this on energy efficiency improvements.

There are 3 ways to fund improvements to your property:

  1. Third-party funding
  2. Combination of third-party funding and self-funding
  3. Self-funding

Contained in your EPC report, you will find a list of recommendations for improving the energy efficiency of your property, along with the indicative cost, the typical savings per year, and the EPC rating after the improvement has been made. The recommended measures are varied, but could include:

  • Internal or external wall insulation
  • Increase hot water cylinder insulation
  • Low energy lighting
  • Solar water heating
  • Draught proofing

If your EPC rating is F or G, you must make ‘relevant energy efficiency improvements’ to your property, which means using the recommendations on the list up to the £3,500 cost cap. If you reach the cap but your property is still not rated as E or above, you can register an ‘all improvements made exemption’, under which you will not be penalised and can continue to let the property.

Be aware: if your chosen methods for energy efficiency improvements do not appear in the list on your EPC report, and they fail to improve your rating to an E or more, you cannot register an exemption and will be expected to invest further in measures that will help your property to meet the requirements before you can let it.

Exemptions

If you don’t think you can meet the requirements under the MEES Regulations, don’t panic. In addition to the ‘all improvements made’ exemption, there are others under which you can register if your property meets the criteria:

  • ‘High cost’ exemption
  • Wall insulation exemption
  • Third-party consent exemption
  • Property devaluation exemption
  • Temporary exemption due to recently becoming a landlord

These need to be registered on the Private Rented Sector (PRS) Exemptions Register, which can be done online. After they expire, you must try again to improve the property’s EPC rating, or register another exemption.

Penalties

The MEES Regulations are enforced by local authorities, who may serve you with a compliance notice if they suspect there’s been a breach. This will request information to aid their decision. If a breach is confirmed, they may issue you with a financial penalty. There is a maximum £5,000 penalty in total per property. Within these regulations, the amount is decided by the relevant local authority. It’s worth remembering that local councils keep these fines, so they are incentivised to enforce them.

How our North West letting agents can help

Mistoria Estate Agents offers a variety of highly sophisticated, professional and tailored property management solutions. With branches in Bolton, Liverpool and Salford we are a leading North West letting agents. We can go through your EPC and gas and electrical safety certificates with you, to ensure you are complying with all legislation including the MEES regulations and give you peace of mind in the process. If you’d like to discuss options, don’t hesitate to get in touch on 0800 500 3015
today.

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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Surviving in a Shared Student House

property lettings salford

Living with your friends in a shared house can be one of the best bits of your time at university. But maintaining domestic harmony can sometimes be a struggle, especially during stressful times like exam season. That’s why we’ve written this blog post – so that you know how to survive in a shared student house! 

Choose Your Housemates Wisely

Before you even start looking for a house, you need to sort out who you’ll be living with. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. A good idea is to live with the people from your halls in first year who you get on with and who you know can live without mess and drama. Alternatively, you could live with people from your favourite society, as that way you’ll have something in common (though that’s no guarantee they’ll be good housemates!). 

We find that the most popular months or house hunting are October to December, which gives you some time to get to know your friends before deciding to live with them. If there’s something you find irritating about a friend, remember that this will be much more noticeable when you see them all the time in your own home. You should also consider how many people you want to live with; in larger houses, there’ll be more chance of arguments and less chance of privacy, but if you’re a social butterfly, a large house might be perfect for you. 

Room Allocation

When you move into your new house, there’ll probably be a desperate rush for the biggest room. But to avoid arguments, deciding who gets which room should be a democratic process. Each room will have its advantages and disadvantages and you should consider what’s most important to you. If some rooms are considerably bigger than others you may consider splitting them by price, or you could allocate on a first come first served basis.  

Keep Things Tidy

To keep up good relations with everyone in your house, try and avoid conflicts wherever possible. Arguments usually start over the cleanliness of the house. It’s fine to have a messy room, but in communal areas, you should make sure your things are packed away after you’ve used them. Make sure you wash your dishes once you’ve used them. It’s really easy to let plates build up until you have a festering mess in your kitchen and nothing to eat from. 

It’s worth sitting down with your housemates to write up a cleaning rota. That way, every part of the house will be cleaned regularly and no one will be able to argue about whether it’s their turn later down the line.

Ask To Use Your Friends Things

If you’ve run out of cutlery because you’ve not done the washing up, it’s tempting to ‘borrow’ your friends’ things. If you come in drunk and have no food in, you may even decide to steal some of your friends’ food from the fridge. That can cause huge arguments, especially if someone comes down to find they have nothing for breakfast. It goes without saying that you should always ask before taking anything. It may also be a good idea to mark your things with your name.

Don’t Let Your Partner Move In

There is usually only enough space in communal areas for the number of occupants in your property. It can be really frustrating when someone you barely know spends all their time hogging the kitchen or taking lazy showers when you need to get ready to go to lectures. Your housemates will also get irritated that your partner isn’t paying rent or bills but is still using the house’s facilities. No one is stopping you having your partner over a few times a week, but if they’re there all the time, don’t be surprised when your friends get annoyed. 

Pay Your Bills

If your house has opted to pay their own bills rather than move into a bills-included home, it’s best to have one person responsible for collecting all utility payments. Make sure you pay them the right amount, on time. It’s unfair on the lead payer if you’ve not paid your share and they’re left covering for you. Remember that everyone is sharing the cost, so don’t turn up the heating just to walk around in shorts!

Looking For A House For Next Year?

Experts in property lettings, Salford, Liverpool and Bolton based Mistoria Estate Agents have a wide range of student properties available to rent. Contact us now. 

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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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What is Deposit Free Renting?

salford student housing

In partnership with deposit alternative provider, Zero Deposit, Mistoria Estate Agents is now able to offer deposit free renting, making moving into your student house considerably cheaper and easier. 

How Does It Work? 

Zero deposit renting is simple, affordable and easy. Instead of paying your traditional security deposit and one month’s rent, you simply have to pay a one-off non-refundable fee of one week’s rent (a Zero Deposit Guarantee) plus a £26 admin fee. Once you’ve signed the relevant paperwork, you’re all done – it’s now time to move into your new student house and use the money you saved to treat yourself to something nice! 

At the end of your contract, if you owe any rent or you’ve damaged the property, you’ll be expected to pay to cover the costs. The Dispute Service settles all disputes over claims with their impartial arbitration process. If you’ve left your house as you found it when you moved in, you’ll have nothing to pay. 

If you decide to stay in the same house the following year, you’ll only need to pay a small admin fee to Zero Deposit when you renew your contract.   

For absolute peace of mind, you can rest assured that Zero Deposit is FCA regulated. You can find out more about the benefits Zero Deposit renting offers here and download our simple guide to deposit free renting here. 

The Traditional Security Deposit 

SInce April 2007, landlords and agents have had to protect tenant deposits in one of three government-backed tenancy deposit schemes; mydeposits, the TDS (Tenancy Deposit Scheme) and DPS (Deposit Protection Scheme). If you would prefer this traditional method, we can still cater for your needs. No deposits are held by Mistoria Estate Agents. 

Before moving in, you’ll need to pay a deposit to secure your property. Once we’ve received the deposit, we’ll make sure the property won’t be let to anyone else. As we let out the majority of our student properties on a room-by-room basis, every member of your group must pay their own deposit. This keeps you protected if one of your friends suddenly decides to leave the property without paying some of their rent. We’ll then provide you with an inventory of everything in the house and a description of the state of the property. It’s your responsibility to check that you agree with this inventory before signing it.  

At the end of the tenancy, if your house is in the state you found it in, you’ll get your full deposit back. There are a few things for which your landlord can’t deduct from your deposit, including general wear and tear and issues which they were told about but did not act on to resolve. If there are only a few scuffs and marks on the wall, your landlord cannot use your deposit to redecorate the entire room. 

If you’ve caused any damage to the property and haven’t reported it, or you’ve failed to pay rent, you’ll forfeit some or all of your deposit at the end of your contract to cover any costs. If the damage has occurred in a communal area, the cost of repairs will be divided between all tenants; if it’s in a bedroom, only that tenant will have to pay. We will always inform you if we intend to make a deduction. You have the right to appeal our decision, at which point your deposit protection scheme will work to settle any disputes. 

Any Questions?

Mistoria Estate Agents are specialists in Liverpool, Bolton and Salford student housing. If you would like to find out more about our deposit free properties please contact the team 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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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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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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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