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What Property Checks Must a Landlord Make?

Property Checks for Landlords

Property Checks for Landlords

When you make a property investment for a buy-to-let or HMO property, you become a landlord and need to be aware that there are many different legal checks that a letting agent must carry out on behalf of the landlord. This month for example it was announced by the Government that landlords will be required by law to make sure that inspectors they hire to carry out electrical safety inspections have the necessary competence and qualifications to do so.

The Government also said that it will press ahead with plans first announced last year to introduce regulations requiring landlords to undertake five yearly safety checks of electrical installations in their properties. The new law doesn’t have a date set yet for introduction and will be phased in when it does begin, but good practice would be to start these checks now so there is no issue in the future.

When you hire a letting agent to look after your investment portfolio you need to ensure that they are covering these legally required checks for you as you will also be held responsible if something goes wrong. Here are some other key safety regulations you need to be aware of:

Gas Safety Checks

An annual gas safety check must be performed by a Gas Safe Registered engineer at no longer than 12 months intervals and copies of the certificate given to the tenant.

Fire Safety Order

There must be a risk assessment in place to comply with the Fire Safety Order. It should be in writing.#

Electrical Appliances

If your property is furnished with electrical appliances it is the landlords responsibility to ensure that they are safe when you start a new let. It is also advisable to perform regular tests of any portable appliances to ensure they are safe.

Fire alarms and fire safety

The landlord is responsible for ensuring any fire alarm systems are checked regularly. It also a requirement that you make sure that the means of escape from the property ,such as the hallways ,stairs and landings, are unobstructed.

Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

Landlords (in England) are required to provide smoke alarms on every floor of their property and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room which has a solid fuel source.

This is not a full list of all of your paperwork and certification requirements but an illustration of the considerable amount of work needed to keep yourself compliant.

Mistoria Group celebrates 1o years this year of working on behalf of investors who become landlords through their HMO investment portfolio and during this time has built up an expert team at Mistoria Estate agents who have many hundreds of properties under management.

If you are thinking of making an HMO investment you also need to consider who will be your agent once you have purchased the property. We would love to talk to you about our services. Please give us a call on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk to drop us a line.

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Home security advice for landlords

landlord safety responsibilities

Security was recently revealed as one of tenants’ top three concerns, so it’s worth spending some time and a little money on ensuing they feel safe in your property. Many landlords don’t realise they have a level of responsibility to make sure a property offers security for tenants.

Locks

It is a legal requirement for a landlord to provide a secure lock to external entrances. For wooden front doors should be made of solid timber and fitted with a five-lever mortice deadlock that can be locked on either side. External uPVC doors should have a three-point multi-locking system.

Patio doors are a target for intruders so they too should have solid locks and be fitted with double-glazed casement windows.

All windows on the property should have lockable handles.

Other ways to make your property safer include fitting window locks to non-escape windows and installing door chains.

Lights

Motion-activated external security lights will help tenants feel safer when leaving or entering a property during hours of darkness, whilst also deterring would-be burglars.

Another good deterrent are timer switches inside the property, which can be used by tenants to set lights to come on even when they’re not home.

The garden

If your property has a garden, ensuring your tenants keep the bushes and hedges trimmed will mean one less place for burglars to hide, a clearer escape route in the event of a fire and less potential for a trip or fall due to overgrown shrubbery.

A clause about simple garden maintenance in your tenancy agreement should suffice.

Fire hazards

Landlords are required, by law, to install working smoke alarms in all rental property.

Any electrical appliances you provide; fridges, washing machines, ovens, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, etc, must undergo annual electrical safety testing by a qualified electrician and a certificate of proof provided to the tenant.

Gas safety checks must also be carried out every year, again by a registered gas safety engineer and a certificate issued. This includes your boiler and cooker or hob if they are run by gas.

You might consider asking tenants to carry out weekly or monthly checks of the smoke alarms in the property by including this in their tenancy agreement. Similarly, a ban on smoking and the use of candles in the property will also reduce the risk of fire.

Intruder alarm

An intruder alarm can help keep your property and your tenant safe. Devices that emit sound and light when motion is detected, as well as when a connection is lost, say on a door or window, are most effective.

Insurance cover

Landlord insurance is vital, and you must make sure you have valid cover in place before you rent out your property. Tailored landlord cover may include loss of rent, property owners’ liability, alternative accommodation and landlord home emergency cover.

For tenants, we strongly recommend they have appropriate contents insurance to cover their own belongings as well as accidental damage they may cause to their rental property, furniture or fixtures or fittings.

Tenant security packs

Tenant packs are a great way of providing your tenants with all the necessary information they need about the property. Include codes for alarms and emergency contact numbers. Instructions on where everything is kept and how to keep the property safe.

At Mistoria Estate Agents we issue all tenants with a Welcome Pack detailing everything from security measures to deposits, dos and don’t to inventories and inspections.

If you’re a landlord with Mistoria Estate Agents we can offer you a variety of highly professional and tailored property management solutions, including full property servicing and management, and tenant finding services. If you choose, we can ensure all aspects of home security are taken care of as part of our landlord management service. This means peace of mind for you that your property and your tenants are well looked after, and that you are compliant with all legal aspects of landlord safety responsibilities.

For more information on how Mistoria Estate Agents can help manage your investment property please call the team on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

Background photo created by topntp26 – www.freepik.com

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A Landlord’s Guide to Periodic Inspections

landlord inspections

It’s very important to carryout periodic inspections throughout each tenancy to ensure your property is in a reasonable state and your tenants are complying with the tenancy agreement.

You should evaluate the overall condition of the property, including both the interior and exterior.

Periodic inspections are typically conducted on a quarterly basis, but can be reduced to bi-yearly after frequent, positive inspections to the same tenants.

At Mistoria Estate Agents, we conduct these regular inspections on your behalf as part of our standard landlord service. We supply all our landlords with a report afterwards detailing the condition of the property and any problems uncovered.

To ensure piece of mind that your property is being taken care of, here are some of the things we check for:

Repairs and maintenance issues
The primary objective of a periodic inspection is to spot any obvious maintenance issues. However, it is the perfect opportunity to uncover and repair any minor problems, before they spiral out of control and become major issues. Remember that it’s always easier and cheaper to repair problems at their early stages. Something simple, such as a small leak, can transform into a terrible disaster if it’s neglected for too long. Relying on tenants to report issues isn’t enough to ensure that everything is in working order. While most tenants will report serious issues, many won’t report the small ones until it’s too late. Moreover, some tenants – through no fault of their own – will be completely unaware of potential problems. For example, they may have become accustomed to the smell of damp, but you will notice it as soon as you walk through the door. It is always wise to have a fresh pair of eyes (and a nose) to look over the property.

Tenants’ living conditions
While the property may be in a generally 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 the contract at the end of the tenancy agreement. As a landlord, you cannot tell your tenant how to live if they are untidy, but if we find that they are unclean, we can inform them that this will resort in damage to the property. For instance, if they leave clothes hanging around, that is their lifestyle choice, but if they do not clean the bathrooms, this could result in staining of the fixtures and fittings.

Some more specific areas of inspection will include:

Damp and mould
Damp and mould are some of the most important issues to look out for, as the tenant often overlooks them. 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 special attention to rooms prone to moisture, such as the bathroom and kitchen, as well as pipework hidden away in kitchen units, and ensure that all extractor fans work – this will help to prevent mould infestations in the future.

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 and condition of the property. 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 give all of the fixtures and fittings – and any other items you have provided – within the property a once over to check that they are in a good condition and suitable working order.

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 and other unwanted wildlife.

The loft
It is very unlikely that your tenants will pay attention to the loft, so we will have a quick look around with a torch to check for any leaks, holes or rodents.

Fair wear and tear
A common dilemma with periodic inspections is that there is often a fine line between fair wear and tear and actual damage. You must remember that 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).

We understand your property is your investment. As such, part of our service to you as valued landlord, is to ensure your property is fit for purpose, in good working order and is being looked after by your tenants. 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.

Some parts of this article were taken from an article first published by Just Landlords in November 2016.

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We’ve been “Under the Hammer”

Homes Under the Hammer is one of the most popular property programmes on TV and we’re delighted that our CEO Mish has made an appearance on the last episode of the current series.

Here he is explaining how he purchased a property in Liverpool and turned it into a beautiful new student HMO property.

The programme is in two parts; the “before” story…

And “after” where we get to see the renovation work carried out to create the finished project…

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Mistoria Group continues expansion with purchase of Student Haus

Mistoria Group, owners of Mistoria Estate Agents, North West specialists in residential and student property sales and lettings, have purchased “Student Haus”, the Salford based lettings and estate agency who have approximately 150 properties under management across the whole of Manchester and Salford.

The acquisition of the business is part of Mistoria’s continuing growth strategy and follows on from the launch of their third estate agency office in Bolton and the acquisition of Pick My Pad announced earlier this year. All Student Haus staff will continue in the new business and the brand will continue to trade under its own name. They currently manage properties for more than 100 landlords covering city centre locations based around the main universities in Manchester and Salford.

Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of student property investment specialist The Mistoria Group comments: “We are delighted to take over the management of Student Haus, including properties, landlords and tenants and to consolidate our position in Salford. Dilan and Edouard have done a great job with Student Digz / Haus over the last 5 years in Salford by building Student Haus into a very a successful business.

“I am glad that they both chose Mistoria to sell their business so that they can both pursue their academic interest. I fervently believe there is a market for both Mistoria and Student Haus brands hence we will continue to trade under both brands in Salford with Hannah Goodman heading the Student Haus division. Over the next few next few months we will be implementing best practices in both businesses that will benefit both our tenants and landlords.”

Commenting on the sale Dilan Omari-Clark said: “We started the company when we were 23 years old after graduating from University. The past 5 years have been a great adventure and we are proud of what we have achieved.

It felt like the right time to sell and we are now ready to take on the next challenge. We are pleased that Mistoria have taken on our staff and we wish Mistoria all the best for the future.”

The Mistoria Group are high yielding student buy-to-let investment specialists, offering HMOs and armchair investments in the North of UK, generating combined net cash yield up to 13% (Rental and Capital Growth). For more information on the firm’s current available investments and the services we offer email us at info@mistoriagroup.com or call 0800 500 3015.

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Further Growth at Mistoria Group with Purchase of “Pick My Pad”

Mistoria Group, owners of Mistoria Estate Agents, North West specialists in residential and student property sales and lettings, have purchased “Pick My Pad”, the Walkden based lettings and estate agency who have approximately 200 properties under management across Greater Manchester.

The acquisition of the business is part of Mistoria’s continuing growth strategy and follows on from the launch of their third estate agency office in Bolton announced earlier this year. All Pick My Pad staff will continue in the new business and will aim to build on their extensive landlord support services. They currently manage properties for more than 150 landlords covering areas from Widnes to Oldham and across the whole of Greater Manchester.

Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group comments: “The friendly acquisition of Pick My Pad is in line with my vision in the next three to five years for Mistoria to manage over 1000 properties and over 5000 tenancies and to be the preferred employer in the real estate industry in the North of England. With this acquisition the number of branches will also increase to five.

Pick my Pad, under Oliver Press has been a very successful business over the last 9 years especially in the Walkden and Little Hulton areas so it is an excellent fit with Mistoria geographically, operationally and financially. It was an easy decision for Mistoria to make to acquire this business and take it to the next level with my team.”

Commenting on the sale Oliver Press said: “I have stepped away from the business as I felt I had taken it as far as I could, and it was time for it to grow. I feel with the current set up at Mistoria it is perfectly placed to go from strength to strength.”

For further information about Mistoria’s landlord, lettings and estate agency services please contact our HQ team.

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Mistoria Estate Agents expands with launch of new Bolton office

estate agents north west

Mistoria Estate Agents, part of the Mistoria Group, specialists in residential and student property sales and lettings, is opening their third office in the heart of Bolton to cater for the growing demand they see in the area. This will be Mistoria’s third estate agency office in the North West following on from their first two locations in Salford and Liverpool.

The new office located at 21a Market Street, Little Lever, Bolton, BL3 1HH will serve the residential property market as well as offering lettings for students and professionals. Mistoria have operated from their Headquarters in Salford since 2009 and expanded initially into Liverpool three years ago.

Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group comments: “We have had a great 12 months and are now expanding our business into Bolton as we see great opportunities there for a quality supplier. Our new team has been carefully selected for their local knowledge and they are raring to go.”

“Since we began operations in 2009 we have seen continuous growth and this expansion into Bolton will not be our last. With our expertise in the North West property market, we’ve been able to concentrate on providing the key services that landlords, tenants and those looking to buy and sell their property really want. We’re excited about the future of the region and the great opportunities there are for us.”

With an opening offer to sell your home for just £750 the Mistoria team are competing against both traditional “bricks and mortar” agents as well as the newer online companies. Mish commented further “We have invested heavily over the last few months in our technology platforms and will market our customer’s properties through the market leading property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla as well as through our own websites and traditional channels.”

The Bolton branch will be holding an open day to celebrate their launch where homeowners looking to sell their property, those wishing to buy or rent a home, as well as landlords searching for a local agent can come along and meet the team. Full details will be announced soon.

The Mistoria Group are high yielding student buy-to-let investment specialists, offering HMOs and armchair investments in the North of UK, generating combined net cash yield up to 13% (Rental and Capital Growth). For more information on the firm’s current available investments and the services it offers, visit us at www.mistoriagroup.com or email at info@mistoriagroup.com or call 0800 500 3015.

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Landlord’s Guide

investment property salford

Being a landlord in 2018 isn’t the same as it was ten years ago, or even two years ago! With ever- changing buy-to-let legislation, whether you are an existing or first-time landlord, there are many recent changes that you need to be aware of.

2016 – Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

The raise in stamp duty implemented in April 2016 on buy-to-let properties and second homes is by far the biggest change to landlord regulation in recent years, and one you are no doubt already aware of. The rules on this are straightforward; if you are already a property owner (i.e. are currently paying or have finished paying a mortgage of a residential property in the UK), and you purchase an additional property, whether it be a second home or a buy-to-let investment, you are subject to a higher rate of stamp duty.

Property ValueProperty Value Standard rate SDLTNew additional property rate SDLT
£0* – £125k0%3%
£125k – £250k2%5%
£250k – £925k5%8%
£925k – £1.5m10%13%
£1.5m+12%15%


2017 – Tax changes

In addition to higher stamp duty, landlords should also be aware of changes to tax relief. The change only affects those paying a higher rate of tax, who will see a substantial drop in income from their investment property.

Previously, interest on your mortgage and other costs associated with buy-to-let property have been deducted from rental income before any tax is due. However, effective April 2017, landlords are only able to claim tax relief at the basic tax rate of 20%, meaning basic rate tax payers will be unaffected.

This is the one to look out for as the impact won’t be felt until you receive your 2019 tax bill, however it’s vital you evaluate your portfolio now to ensure your investment(s) remains profitable.

It’s also worth noting that this a reduction in tax liability as opposed to a reduction to taxable income. The new rates will be introduced gradually at 25% per year from April 2017, meaning it will be the 2020/21 tax year before they come into full effect.

Tax YearPercentage of finance costs deductible from rental incomePercentage of basic rate tax reduction
2017/1875%25%
2018/1950%50%
2019/2025%75%
2020/210%100%


2018 – Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)

As of 1st April 2018 the MEES makes it unlawful to let out a property in the private rented sector with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G (unless exemptions apply). From this date landlords cannot renew or grant new tenancies on a residential property if it does not meet the MEES regulations.

Beyond April 2020, the continued private rental of all buildings failing to meet the minimum standard will be outlawed entirely.

Local councils will have the power to enforce compliance of the MEES, with penalties of up to £5,000, so it’s important landlords carry out the necessary remedial and maintenance work on their buy-to-let properties now to avoid prosecution.

For clarity, this information should be treated as a guide, and is in no way financial or legal advice. Should you require financial or tax assistance in relation to your buy-to-let property or position as a landlord, please speak to our partner company MMC Accountants Ltd.

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Leaving your Mistoria property

liverpool student lettings

To ensure a smooth exit from your Mistoria Salford or Liverpool student lettings there are a few things we need you, the tenant, to do. Most of it is common sense and involves cleaning up after yourself to ensure the property is left in the same state you found it in when you moved in.

The less cleaning up and maintenance work the Mistoria team have to do at the end of a tenancy, the quicker your deposit can be returned to you, in full.

So we all know where we stand and to ensure a happy outcome, we’ve put together the following check-list so you know what is expected of you before you leave.

Kitchen
Please ensure the fridge freezer is defrosted and that there is no food left inside it, or in the kitchen cupboards.

Do not leave any cutlery, cups, glasses, pots and pans or any other kitchenware behind.

Please clean oven and hob. We recommend ‘Oven Pride’. This is a fairly cheap product that can be purchased from any leading supermarket. (Please ensure you read and follow the instructions on the packaging when using this product).

Bathroom
Please ensure the seal around bath/shower is cleaned and that no bathroom products are left behind. Please ensure bath/shower plugholes are draining and that there are no blockages (from hair for example).

Bedrooms
Please ensure no personal items are left behind. When cleaning your bedroom, please pull-out and clean behind the bed and wardrobe. For safety, ask another housemate to help you with this as these can be heavy items.

Floors and Surfaces
Please ensure that all surfaces all cleaned (desks, wardrobes, windowsills, etc). Ensure all carpets have been hoovered and floors mopped, where applicable. Please empty the hoover when finished.

Rubbish
Remove all rubbish from the property and ensure it is placed into the correct bins. (Failure to place the rubbish in the correct bins may result in the council refusing to empty the bins. Should this happen, tenants will incur a charge for this removal).

Please note, if any rubbish is left behind, you will be charged. This is classed as Tenants Damage and can be deducted from your deposit.

If you have had any pictures or posters etc. hanging on the walls of your bedrooms, please ensure no marks are left from blue tac, Sellotape, etc.

If you would like any further advice regarding what could be classed as Tenant Damage in your property please do not hesitate to call Ian, the Mistoria Maintenance Manager, on 07794 913 390. He will be more than happy to help.

If your property is left in the same condition as when you were given the keys, we will endeavour to return your deposit within 14 days of the final utility bills being received by Mistoria.

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Tenant duties in a Mistoria Liverpool or Salford student house

Salford student house

There’s lots going on throughout the academic year, and we understand that studies, sports and socials sometimes take priority to your responsibility in your student house. So, we thought it worth reminding you of your duties as a Mistoria tenant.

When you first moved in, you and your housemates will have been told how we expect you to behave and look after your property whilst you’re living there, but here’s a reminder of your the simple dos and don’ts…

  1. Keep the property clean and tidy at all times – common sense, surely you do this at home, so why not in your term-time house.
  2. No food to be left/eaten in bedrooms – we know you do this, but be smart and don’t leave evidence of it.
  3. No Blu-Tac on walls – it causes grease marks.
  4. Rubbish to be removed, do not pile up bags in the yard – again, common sense, who wants to live in a rubbish tip?
  5. Keep all rooms vented – open windows a little whilst you’re at home, use extractor fans in bathroom when showering and the kitchen when cook, or open the windows and back door.
  6. Tenants are shown how to top up boiler, clean out hoover and clean out filters in washing machine – stuff you may not have known before to a little maintenance on your part will ensure these essential; household items stay in a good state or repair and effective working order.
  7. Tenants to be shown what the likely cause of black mould is and shown how to avoid black mould and condensation in the property by using the silent fans as well as opening the windows and doors frequently – as in point 5, plus don’t put wet clothes directly on radiators. Also see our dedicated condensation page.
  8. Smoking is NOT allowed in properties, especially Cannabis – make your student house a nice environment for everyone and smoke outside, away from open windows and doors.
  9. Drug taking is Forbidden. Any form of recreation drugs are Forbidden – it’s illegal. End of.
  10. Baby wipes/wetwipes and kitchen roll must be disposed of in a bin and NOT flushed down the toilet – these wipes do not break down like toilet tissues and can cause blockages.
  11. Shower plugs to be kept clean as they will clog with hair – a quick wipe with some toilet roll after each shower should do the trick.
  12. Use boiler timers or set rooms stats – this help keep the house pleasant, stops mould and prevents pipes from freezing in cold weather.
  13. INTERNET – Downloading/streaming films will reduces speed and restrict other household users.
  14. Use the Freshdesk online ticketing service on the Mistoria Estate Agents website to report maintenance issues – texts and emails won’t be responded to.
  15. Keep gardens and yards clean – see point 4.
  16. Anti-social/irresponsible behaviour will not be tolerated – you each have equal responsibility to make your student house a safe and pleasant place to live for yourselves and your neighbours.

Failure to follow the above points may result in the Mistoria maintenance team being called out and you being charged for any work carried out to fix or replace the problem.

If you have any questions about any of the points listed above, please contact your local Mistoria office on 0800 500 3015.

If you’re looking for a Liverpool or Salford student house, please contact us and let us help you find the perfect place to call home for the next academic year.