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How To Choose Your Next Student Home

salford student house share

Moving in to a Salford student house share some time soon? Before you do, read our advice about choosing the right one for you and your friends.

Choose Your New Housemates Wisely
If you want to have a great year in your new house, you’ll need great housemates. That’s why choosing them is such a hard task. Living with your friend that goes out every night to party might seem like great fun, but later in the year when you’re deep in an essay on an all nighter, you won’t want him banging on your door and making a racket when he comes home drunk at 4am. Make sure you trust them too; you don’t want them stealing your food when they can’t be bothered to cook for themselves.

Create a Budget That Works For Everyone
Once you’ve chosen your new housemates, it’s time to agree on a budget. Don’t forget that some people may have more money to spend than others. You need to work out a budget that everyone can afford and that everyone is happy with. Keep it realistic and within your student finance allowance.

Don’t Leave It Too Late
We can’t stress this one enough! One of the most common mistakes we see students make is leaving house hunting to the last minute and having to settle for something they’re not entirely happy with, or having to live with other students they don’t like. You should give yourself lots of time to find the house that’s right for you and your friends. You should have signed a contract at the very latest before everyone goes away for summer. Ideally though, you’ll want it sorted by Easter.

Pick An Area To Live In
Unsurprisingly, student houses tend to be close to university campuses and various shops and supermarkets. Living near other students is the best option. That way, you’ll be with people who have the same interests as you and you won’t be disturbing families with your antics. Also consider what kind of vibe you want; do you want loud and bustling or quiet and relaxed?

Get Familiar With The Legal Stuff

Contracts
When you’ve chosen the house you want, you’ll have to sign a contract. You may want to show your documents to the student advice centre at your university for them to check so you have peace of mind. Tenancy contracts are legally binding so make sure you definitely want to live in a property before signing.

Rent
One of the key components of the contract is the statement of how much rent you’ll pay and when it should be paid. It will also detail any instances where extra fees may be imposed, such as when a key has been lost and needs replacing.

Tenant Obligations
This part of the contract will explain what your duties are as a tenant. Typical responsibilities include being respectful of your neighbours, carrying out minor maintenance work such as changing light bulbs and keeping your house clean.

Landlord Obligations

Your contract will also show the landlord’s duties whilst you are a tenant in the property. Examples include major repair work and ensuring the house is compliant with gas, fire and electricity legislation.

Check Out The Property Yourself
If you’ve seen a property you like the look of online, don’t go signing for it straight away without having a look at it first. Speak to a member of the team at Mistoria Estate Agents and they’ll be able to book a viewing for you. You’ll be able to get an idea of whether you see yourself living there for a year or more and whether it meets your needs in terms of size and facilities.

Need Help Finding a Salford Student House Share?
Then come to Mistoria Estate Agents for advice. Our professional team will be able to answer any questions you have and will help you find a property that suits everyone in your group. Contact us now.

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The ‘Tenant Tax’: Advice for Landlords

student houses manchester

A change to the so-called ‘Tenant Tax’, officially known as Section 24, could leave as many as 28% of landlords subsidizing their rental properties.

This tax is nothing new though. It was introduced in April 2017, but many landlords still know very little about it. Currently, they can offset mortgage interest against their income from rentals before calculating their profits and taxes. However, the latest change to the legislation means that by 2021 landlords with mortgages will not be able to claim mortgage interest as tax deductible. Rental profits will now be taxed with a maximum deduction of 20%.

Those landlords who own their property outright will not be affected by the changes.

Will The Change Affect Me?

You will be affected by the Section 24 changes if you have any kind of loan or mortgage interest on your BTL property that is a considerable proportion of your costs. You will now have to pay tax on these costs, as well as any profits you make. You should not assume that this change won’t affect you. Instead, carry out a thorough assessment of your finances, or talk to a tax specialist, such as those at MCC Accountants.

How Can I Minimise The Effects Of The Change?
The effects of the ‘Tenant Tax’ are expected to be significant. On average, it is thought that landlords will have to pay an extra £2000 in tax once the change has been fully implemented.

You should be wary of raising rents to compensate for the tax increase, though 44% of respondents in a recent survey by online letting agency Upad stated that they would be doing so. There is potential for this activity to harm your rental yields. Instead, you should consider setting up a company to purchase BTL properties, or transferring properties you own as an individual into a limited company.. It may be necessary to sell some lower yielding properties and reduce mortgage payments. Alternatively, if your partner is in a lower tax bracket, transferring the properties into their name may be an idea, though this may have repercussions on inheritance and capital gains tax.

Other Changes
Mortgage arrangement and broker fees will also no longer be tax deductible under the new legislation. Before 2016, if a property was rented out in a furnished state, HMRC allowed landlords to offset 10% against their income every year. This could be done whether furniture was replaced or not. Now, however, this can only be done if furniture is actually replaced on a like-for-like basis. You should therefore be cautious of replacing furniture unless it is absolutely necessary.

How Mistoria Can Help
If you are interested in renting out student houses, Manchester based Mistoria Estate Agents are here to help. Our property professionals are on hand to assist with any query you may have, including the complex legislation, such as the Tenant Tax, which surrounds properties of this kind. Give us a call for more information.

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Moving into your new student home

Moving into your new student home

It’s an exciting time when you move into your new student accommodation. If you’re away from home for the first time it’s even more of a change for you as you find your way around your new home. We want to make the experience as simple as possible for you, so our website has lots of help available.

Here are a few key things to be aware of…

Firstly we operate a ticket system for any maintenance issues you have. At Student Haus we operate our own dedicated team and you can find the link to report a problem on our website’s header. It is also listed below:

Student Haus Maintenance System

For small non-urgent problems, we will try and get these fixed either over the phone or if that’s not possible, arrange a time when we can call in.

For emergencies we will do our best to respond immediately. If you need to report an emergency repair outside the office hours of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, you should call our Student Haus office line on: 0161 694 6427 giving as much detail of the problem as possible.

If you smell gas you must call NATIONAL GRID on 0800 111999.

Secondly, we want you to be safe in your new home so make sure you keep doors and windows locked when you go out. Be aware of your surroundings and take sensible measures to look after your own security and that of your friends.

Some properties are fitted with burglar alarms, please learn to use these and set them correctly. We don’t want to disturb the neighbours with constant false alarms.

Talking of neighbours, be respectful of your neighbourhood and remember that people around you may work different hours to you so please keep music and noise to a minimum. Having good relations with your neighbours can be a benefit if you ever need to ask for help.

Fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are fitted in all properties and it is your responsibility to check these are working and keep a log of these checks.

Keep the property clean and make sure you are using the bins properly. Food waste can attract pests so please make sure your bins are put out for emptying on the correct day and that they are not left overflowing. Keeping things clean and tidy will make your home a much nicer place to live.

Damp and condensation are generally caused by lack of ventilation so when you are in open windows when the weather allows, and keep rooms well aired particularly those where there is a lot of moisture such as bathrooms and kitchens. If windows are never opened then condensation will increase and can lead to issues with damp.

Keep an eye on your utility usage. Where bills are included, they are done so on a fair usage basis. This means there is an upper limit to what you can use without incurring additional costs.

Look after the property and report breakages. Accidents do happen and we realise that and we will replace items but this may incur a charge.

If you have any questions please drop your local office a line or call them and they will do their best to help.

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Buy to let remains a popular investment despite recent changes to legislation

A recent survey of 5000 investors by a London based agency had reported that the Buy-to-let investment model remains the most popular amongst those surveyed.

Although the market is currently seeing a raft of new legislation, covering all aspects of the rental market, 73% of these investors still see property investment as the most stable, least volatile long-term investment available.

Recent legislation has changed stamp duty, tax-relief and tenants fees, making the sector less profitable but the long term impact of these changes is seen more as a bump in the road by many businesses with the size and scale to make adjustments for the long term.

Smaller rental operators may have lost interest and be leaving the sector and certainly the government is seeking to weed out unscrupulous landlords and improve the quality of the businesses that own and manage rental properties, but those with scale are coping well with the new rules.

With Brexit looming there will no doubt be further changes made as the impact of this significant political development  feeds down into the nuts and bolts of property management. However the fundamentals of the investment are still there for the responsible landlord.

Renting property is popular amongst students and young professionals as well as many families. Having the right partner to help you find and manage your tenants will help you generate a steady, reliable income. Buying and maintaining the right kind of property, in the right area, means that you will have capital appreciation as well as this rental income.

Knowing all of the legislation can be difficult for landlords but that’s where choosing the right lettings agent as a partner can be a great help to you. Your agent will manage hundreds of rental properties so will be fully up-to-date with both local and national legislation.

Mistoria operates a team of local offices, staffed by knowledgeable,  friendly staff who work with dozens of landlords in the property rental sector. We cover all of the paperwork for you, ensuring you and your property are fully compliant. We will also source your tenants and manage their tenancy. And of course we handle payments and the money side of things giving you regular monthly statements of all income and expenses and making sure your payments are promptly made.

If you are currently struggling to manage your portfolio or are looking for a new partner to help you with your properties then please drop us a line or call us and we would be happy to show you our range of lettings services.

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What is the difference between fully managed and let only?

Fully managed landlords service Manchester

When someone is thinking of letting their property out via an estate agent, they are usually offered a choice of going for ‘fully managed’ or ‘let only’. It’s an important decision and depends on the needs of each landlord. Student Haus offers both forms of service and can offer expert advice to any landlord who is thinking of using an estate agent.

A let only house means the estate agent, for a fixed fee, will market the property across their website and other services as well as showing prospective tenants around the property. Once a student or group of students say they’d like to move in the estate agent will then undertake the necessary referencing process, sort out the contract and ensure they’re the right fit for the house. They will then usually take the first month’s rent in advance.

The estate agent will then typically take their fee from the first month’s rent and forward everything else to the owner, but once the tenants have moved in everything else is the responsibility of the landlord. The collection of future rents, any problems that may occur with the tenants and as well as the basic maintenance of the property.

At Student Haus we collect deposits for our fully managed properties but where we are handling a let only agreement, the landlord will collect this directly and register it.

Where a let only deal is basically paying a letting agency to market your property for you and finding the right match for both parties, a fully managed property takes all the work away from the landlord.

In addition to everything that was outlined above, the letting agent is also in charge of documenting a full inventory of the property, inspecting it regularly, dealing with day to day issues the tenants may raise and carrying out routine maintenance work using approved and qualified tradesmen. At Student Haus utility bills are included (or not) at the discretion of the landlord and we do not manage these elements.

Finally, they collect all rent payments on behalf of the landlord and take an agreed percentage cut of each payment to cover their costs.

Whichever is best for your needs Student Haus is happy to accommodate both and provide expert advice to any interested party.

Student Haus can offer both a fully-managed and let only option through either our own team or a sister company. Please contact us to discuss your landlord requirements.

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What can you get for your money when renting as a student ?

Whether you’re just starting university or have been studying for a while, the yearly cycle of finding a place to live somehow manages to be frustrating and exciting at the same time.

The first decision you’ll have to make is house or halls, so which is better?

Assuming your budget is limited (and let’s face it, no student is flooded with cash), keeping your rent low is always high on the list of priorities.

Student Halls of Residence

Student halls are notoriously expensive, the University of Liverpool’s in-house halls are advertised at almost £150 a week. The private ones aren’t much better with most costing more and a few offering rooms for below that.

What do you get for that price? A standard room (which is what £150 per week will get you) will usually have enough room for a single bed, a desk, somewhere to put your clothes and that’s about it.

You’ll have access to a kitchen too, but that will likely be shared by five or more people, the same can be said for the showers and toilets.

It’s worth noting that in most cases halls also cover bills so you won’t need to worry about paying for your wifi.

There’s also the social aspect, especially for first years, flat parties in student halls are the way a lot of people make their first friends while at university. They also tend to be extremely messy and annoy the security staff who work in the building.

Student Rental Houses

Your other choice is to get a student house in any of the central areas of the city. If we carry on using Liverpool as an example, you can find a pretty big bedroom for around £80 to £110 a week. Sometimes they’ll include bills, sometimes they won’t, but if they don’t adding £10 a week to your calculations should roughly be right. So, you’re going to save hundreds in the long run.

By picking a house you also have much more flexibility in choosing who you live with. If you have a group of mates who want a place together then you can all find a house to fit you all. If you’re on your own you will at least usually get the chance to meet the people who will be living there before you sign any contract.

If you do go down this route, the house will also more likely have more communal space in the kitchens and living rooms shared with three to five people rather than the more crammed halls.

Don’t think this means you’re going to miss out on the social aspect of it either. What’s stopping you going to any of the party’s other people will inevitably host in their halls? At least you won’t be responsible for cleaning up the mess when you’re hungover the next day.

Contact our local team or browse our properties in Salford and Manchester.

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3 Benefits of using a Student (HMO) Letting Agent

  1. Letting Agents help landlords to stay compliant
    Unless the individual is a full time landlord or works in the property industry for a living, chances are the landlord will be busy with their day job, family, hobbies and other things. Letting Agents work in property day in and day out and stay on top of changing industry laws, tax and other regulations which in turn will better help the landlord stay compliant which is especially important when it comes to the letting and management of HMO accommodation.
  2. Letting Agents provide landlords a professional set up
    Being a landlord is equal to running a (small) business. You provide a product (the property) as well as a service (the ongoing management of the property). To get the most from a student property investment the landlord should therefore approach it in a business-like manner. This includes but is not limited to reliable and speedy communication with your tenants, fast organisation of maintenance and repairs, timely deposit returns, professional arrears chasing and debt repayment negotiation, receipting rent and administering invoices for year end tax reports and other business-like processes. These are all processes and procedures a student letting agent can provide to landlords in a professional manner.
  3. Letting Agents provide an objective and professional buffer between the landlord and the tenants
    Disputes can arise between landlords and tenants and it is definitely helpful to have a 3rd party involved to manage the situation. It can be equally beneficial to have a Letting Agent involved if things are going well between tenant and landlord to ensure the relationship stays professional and neither side slacks off when it comes to their responsibility to pay rent on time or get maintenance organised efficiently.If you are a landlord or student and need help with your property needs feel free to contact our team via info@student-haus.com and they’ll be happy to help!
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Tenant Fees Bill

It has been announced that the Tenant Fees Bill is set to come into force on 1st June 2019.

The Bill will ban letting fees paid by tenants in the private rented sector and cap tenancy deposits in England. The ban will apply to all tenancies signed after 1st June.

The aim of the Bill is to deliver a fairer, good quality and more affordable private rented sector by reducing the costs that tenants pay at the beginning and throughout a tenancy and improving the relationship between tenants and landlords.

The ban will allow tenants to see how much a property will cost them with no hidden costs.

For landlords, this means you will only be allowed to take payment for rent and deposits from tenants. There are just three other ‘default fees’ you will be able to charge a tenant for, and they will also be limited;

Damages
If a tenant causes damage to your property beyond reasonable wear and tear, you may charge them for the cost to repair the damage.

Loss of keys
You may charge the tenant for the cost of replacing them and reasonable costs and evident must be provided in writing (receipts etc). You cannot charge for your time or inconvenience.

Late rent payment
You can charge 3% above the Bank of England base rate in interest.

Landlords can still charge for changes to a tenancy requested by the tenant. £50 would be considered the norm and any charge above this would need to be justified. If tenant wants to leave the contract early, they will be liable to pay the rent up to a maximum of the length of the fixed term of the contract.

Deposits will also be restricted to the equivalent of five weeks rent where annual rent is below £50k.

Failure to comply

Failure to comply with the Tenant Fees Ban could land you in a whole heap of trouble. If you charge a fee that is not permitted, tenants will be able to reclaim the money they have paid, plus interest, via the county court. Trading standards will also have the authority to fine you up to £30k.

You will also be unable to serve a Section 21 notice if you have charged a tenant a fee where you shouldn’t have and kept the money.

How Mistoria Estate Agents can help

At Mistoria Estate Agents, we can manage your buy to let property, including tenant finding and management, on your behalf. This means we can take the burden out of staying compliant with new areas of legislation, including the Tenant Fees Ban. Let us do the hard work of managing your investment whilst you get on with the other areas of your life. Call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk to see how we can help you.

A full guide to the Tenant Fees Ban can be found on the RLA website www.rla.org.uk/feeban.

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Street-wise: knowing the exact street you want to live on…

Last week, new research by Zoopla revealed a third of buyers already know the street they want to live on. In some cases, even the exact house has been identified before a buyer starts their purchasing journey.

As a local estate and letting agent, we are very aware of this trend. We often have potential buyers, and even tenants, looking to purchase or rent property in very specific areas. Often enquiries can be property type specific; a semi-detached, or a certain number of bedrooms or other specific criteria, however we are experiencing more and more of the type of query the Zoopla survey suggests. We are contacted most days via telephone, email and social media asking if we have property available on a particular street or post code.

Online portals like Zoopla, Rightmove and OnTheMarket allow anyone to browse the market, regardless of whether they are actually thinking of moving or not. Window shopping online and creating a wishlist or shortlist of ‘future property purchases’ isn’t uncommon. People are able to glimpse into nearby homes and properties and get a flavour of the interior and exterior of the property that previously would have only been accessible via a physical property viewing.

Fuelled further by the likes of Pinterest and Instagram and other social media platforms, where property or home enthusiasts can save photographs of beautiful homes, interiors, gardens, bedrooms, kitchens etc means people are choosing their ideal home, or future property purchase, long before they actually intend on moving.

As property professionals, with experience and knowledge of the local area, we know the sought after streets and post codes. This means working harder to secure the listings of favourable properties within Bolton, Little Lever and the surrounding areas.

Do you already know the exact house or street you wish to live in? Contact us and see if we can’t find you something that meets the same or similar specification to help get you into your new, dream home faster!

Car photo created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

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Does your student property stand out?

In recent years there have been significant changes in the student housing market in Manchester with a gradual shift from traditional student areas of south Manchester to the City Centre and surrounding areas.

There are several reasons for this shift, some of them are the changes in student funding as well as the changes to the student Visa process. Another major reason are the growing alternatives of high-end private sector purpose-built student blocks especially because they are in close proximity of the main University campuses.

It is important for you, the traditional student property investor, to recognise this trend and to understand the effects this has on your student property investment.

According to a report by the Manchester City Council, MMU has seen a decline in the numbers of first year students applying to stay in their own managed Halls, and Salford University has also reported a 6% increase in students commuting from home from last year.

This means that the student housing market is increasingly competitive and you need to ensure that your student property stands out. For you as an investor, it is important to understand the students’ search behavior for their housing. What do they look for when choosing their accommodation? When is the right time to put your property on the market so you don’t miss the rush? What is the best price to market your property at? How and where do students look for properties? What other extras do you offer to make your property more competitive?

If you would like an answer to any of these questions or if you are looking for help with your student property then please contact our office on info@student-haus.com to book in your free “Student Property Appraisal” and a one to one consultancy slot.