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Merry Christmas from Mistoria Estate Agents!

The term is coming to a close. It’s time to finish off half-written coursework, pack up your dirty laundry and travel home for the Christmas holidays – at last!

To those currently living in a Mistoria student house, we hope you’ve had a pleasant first term and are enjoying your stay in our property.  Make sure everything is locked up while you’re away, and be sure to check out our tips for keeping your student house safe over the Christmas holiday.  We look forward to seeing you again after your much deserved break!

We’d also like to extend a big thank you to those who have recently put down a deposit for a student house with us for the next academic year – have a happy new year and we’ll see you in 2014.  If you’re still looking for next year’s digs, why not check out our available properties and give us a call on 0800 500 3015 – we’d love to have you with us next Christmas!

On behalf of everyone at Mistoria Estate Agents, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – eat, drink and be merry! See you next year.

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New landlord regulations

Last week, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) sent out letters to all relevant trade bodies regarding new landlord regulations, with guidance on how to ensure lettings ads refrain from displaying misleading prices.  To prevent tenants from being landed with unexpected non-refundable fees and charges, which they may not be able to afford, CAP has informed all letting agents and private landlords that all costs must be included in the “asking rent” for the property and displayed prominently on all advertising material.

The regulations come after several landlords have been caught charging one price to draw in potential tenants, before piling on the costs of admin fees and inventory charges at a later date.  As the Chief Executive for the Advertising Standards Authority, Guy Parker, has noted, renting is a “big financial commitment” and becoming more and more common in the UK, as people are unable to afford the cost of buying.  To hide costs in the early stages, only for them to “hit tenants in the pocket at a time when they need every penny they’ve got” is simply not fair. 

From 1st November 2013, websites, property portals and other forms of media advertising will be monitored by the appropriate authorities and any listings which do not include all relevant pricing and fees will be subject to follow-up action.  At Mistoria, we are proud to say that with our costs, what you see is what you get.  Our fees per month or per week are exactly that, with no hidden charges or nasty surprises.  We agree with the ASA, that people should be aware of their monthly or weekly costs and should be able to plan their expenses.  Trust between tenants and landlords is essential and hopefully the new scheme will reduce the number of unreliable landlords ripping off unsuspecting tenants.

Whether you are a landlord and would like to know more about our property management services, or a tenant looking for a room or property to rent, feel free to contact us on 0800 500 3015 to find out more about what Mistoria Estate Agents have to offer.  Alternatively, you can contact us via our website.

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Lettings Regulations explained – what to expect from the new procedures

Formerly, a general lack of regulation in the lettings industry has resulted in some tenants and landlords falling foul of unscrupulous methods, with a reported 40% of letting agents failing to sign up to self-regulation.  The recent changes to the laws governing the lettings industry have stated that, going forward, all lettings agents will be required to register with an Ombudsman, the objective being to uphold best practice and to ensure than both tenant and landlord are better protected.    

Under the new regulations, failure to register with an Ombudsman can potentially result in civil or criminal penalties for agents.  It is believed the amendments will come into force in autumn of this year.  When this is so, should tenants wish to lodge a complaint, they will be able to do so through the appropriate channels.  Prior to addressing an Ombudsman, tenants are being advised to firstly: 

– Ensure that the firm is infact registered with the Ombudsman.

– Ensure that the tenant has written in complaint to the firm in the first instance.

Under the new regulations, any complaint should be investigated within an eight week period, following which, if unresolved, the matter can be referred to the Ombudsman.  If a firm has written to a tenant and the outcome is deemed ‘unsatisfactory’, the case can again, be referred to the Ombudsman.  Sending copies of all correspondence and supportive documentation to the Ombudsman is advised.

However, there are certain matters that cannot be handled by the Ombudsman, these being:

– If your complaint is not against a registered agent.

– If your complaint is being handled by a court or similar body.

– Your complaint refers to an incident prior to the agent joining the lettings part of the TPO (The Property Ombudsman) scheme or more than 12 months before you complained in writing to the agent.

– Your complaint is referred to the Ombudsman more than 6 months following the date of the agent’s final correspondence.

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Why use a property lettings agent?

Do you have a property that you need/want to rent out?

First of all ask yourself how much do you know about property lettings?

It is possible to let your property privately without the use of a property lettings agent, but using one like us has quite a few advantages. We will market your property for you and organise viewings, get references from your tenants and draw up a tenancy agreement for you. We will also manage the property and take care of any maintenance issues, dealing directly with the tenant on your behalf.

A very important task we handle is rent collection. According to The Tenant Arrears Tracker, published by LSL Property Services the number of tenants who are more than two months behind of their rent has risen dramatically in the first quarter of 2013 from 4,000 to 94, this represents an increase of nearly 5 per cent. We take the worry and stress out of this part of letting.

Did you know that your tenant’s deposit must be kept in a government-authorised tenancy deposit protection scheme. It is held there until the end of the tenancy when it should be returned, assuming the tenant has kept your property in good order. The idea is to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords who withold it unreasonably.

WHAT WE DO AS YOUR PROPERTY LETTINGS AGENT

  • Advertise the house for rent
  • Show potential tenants round your property
  • Screen potential tenants
  • Collect rent and security deposits
  • Negotiate rental agreements and sign leases
  • Conduct periodic property inspections
  • Handle repair and maintance issues
  • File evictions, if necessary

Many people don’t want to handle all these extra responsibilities or simply don’t have the time. At Mistoria Estate Agents, your property lettings agent we will ensure that your property and tenants are well looked after.

For more information please see our LANDLORDS page.

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Letting Agents to be more upfront when it comes to cost

A new ruling by The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) now means letting agents must now be much clearer about their fees for rental properties.

Certain estate agencies have been accused of hiding compulsory administration fees making it difficult for the consumer to really know what they were going to be charged for their rental properties.

The ASA have said that all prices now quoted must be transparent to ensure a much fairer system. Now when an agency is letting a property the monthly rent must be advertised alongside any extra admin fee to be paid including information about a property’s deposit, any rent to be paid in advance and also any contract fees involved. These changes are being made to protect all renters but especially vulnerable people such as first time renters and students from looking for a home.

With these new regulations in place consumers will now have all the information they need to compare prices and shop around, so that they can be confident when choosing a property. 

Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, said:

“Hidden fees are not only unfair, they hit those who are struggling hardest. Our ruling today makes clear that Letting Agents need to get their houses in order and treat potential tenants fairly.

Renting a property is a significant commitment. And for those who are new to the rental market, like students, navigating it can be particularly difficult. That’s why the ASA is clamping down on Letting Agents who hide fees. Today’s ruling makes clear that agents must include all compulsory fees and charges in their quoted prices. If the fees cannot be calculated in advance then the agent must make clear that fees have been excluded, and provide enough information for consumers to establish how fees are calculated. It’s now our priority to make sure agents across the sector bring their advertising into line.”