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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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Pet-friendly rental property

pet friendly rental property

In the UK, an estimated 12 million households own together around 51 million pets. Recent research carried out by Zoopla discovered that there’s a growing trend in the search for “pet-friendly” rental property. The term ‘pets’ ranked as the third most searched keyword in the latest analysis of the nation’s most sought-after features for rental homes. The ownership of pets is increasing and could represent great opportunities for landlords to invest in line with this growing trend.

The outcome of the research

Zoopla’s discovery of the growing search for pet-friendly rental homes compliments another research on the matter. SpareRoom recently undertook research on the same subject. This research showed that almost 4 out of 5 tenants who own one or more animal have struggled to find pet-friendly accommodation. The study also revealed that 78% of tenants experienced difficulties finding adequate housing due to the majority of landlords not being keen about tenants keeping pets and refuse to allow them. As a matter of fact, 69% will not allow pets in their properties. 21% of tenants surveyed admitted that they currently own a pet without their landlord’s knowledge

As for the reasons landlords refuse pets in their property, 57% cited the smell, 55% are concerned about pets causing potential damage to the property and 37% admitted concern over whether the pet was properly trained. Oddly enough, 88% of pet owners claim they have never experienced any complaints or even caused damage to the property, in contrast to the concerns of landlords.

Benefits of Pet-Friendly Rental Property

Despite landlords’ reservations, there are benefits of allowing pets in rented properties. One of the benefits being the possibility of having a larger potential tenant pool. Having a larger group to choose from allows the landlord to pick the best-suited tenants for their property.  Due to the difficulty in finding other pet-friendly rental housing motivates pet owners to rent for longer in the same location, which can reduce void periods and therefore give landlords a better return on their investment.

The biggest benefit for landlords is money related. The increase in demand gives landlords stronger bargaining power to charge higher rent. Especially when there are few pet-friendly properties around the area. Some surveys have shown pet owners to have a higher income than average , meaning they may be willing to spend more when the property suits their demands.

Pet owners are often mature and take good care of their pet showing their responsibility, a desirable quality for property owners when accepting tenants. Likely these potential tenants will treat the property with care and with respect.

One can argue the social and ethical benefits of allowing pets in properties. Having pets around can have a positive effect on the physical and mental wellbeing of tenants, they can reduce stress and make the owner feel happier. By allowing animals in a property, owners don’t have to sneak in their pets which can result in unwanted conflict between landlord and tenant.

Cons of Pet-Friendly Rental Property

As mentioned before, landlords have multiple reasons why they don’t allow pets, the biggest concern being pet odours. There are ways to decrease or limit odours, including using a professional cleaning firm at the end of a tenancy. However, well trained pets and responsible owners shouldn’t have a problem with pet associated smells.

The potential damage to a property; chewed up carpets and furniture, scratches on the floor and doors and even noise disturbance, are concerns for landlords. Again, properly trained animals with sensible owners are unlikely to display this type of behaviour. Some pets even copy the character of their owner and often won’t miss behave if their owner respects the property.

Some landlords admit concern about the risk of animal liability, particularly biting and other aggressive behaviour when improperly trained. This is a reasonable concern but with good communication and by asking the right questions about a potential owners’ pets, a landlord can gain a better impression of the animal and whether the tenant and their pet(s) are right for the property.

When it comes to HMO properties and house shares, there is always the possibility of losing other tenants when allowing pets into a property. Some tenants may have allergies relating to certain animals or have other personal reasons for not wanting to live with a pet. In order to lower the possibility of losing current tenants, a landlord should make clear to all tenants at the beginning of a tenancy, even those without a pet, if a property is pet-friendly or not.

Pet-friendly Rental Property at Mistoria

Whilst the issue around pet-friendly rental property continues to be one that is hotly debated, at Mistoria we believe in keeping a track of current property market trends and feeding this back to our landlords. Pet-friendly rentals are an area we are often asked about and is something we are advising our landlords on. There will always be landlords that do not wish to allow animals in their property and this is something we fully respect. For those who are more lenient, we hope to work with them to find a happy-medium and a way for us to work together to find and manage suitable tenancies involving pet ownership.

At Mistoria Estate Agents we’re an open-minded, professional team who work hard to build good relationships with both the landlords and tenants we serve. We’re keen to educate both sides on sensible property management and work with all concerned to deliver successful and long-term tenancies.

If you own a rental property and would like help with tenant sourcing and management please get in touch. Similarly, if you’re a tenant searching for a particular type of rental property to meet your needs, please contact us. Call 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

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