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Mistoria Group Celebrates 10 Years of Property Growth in the North West

The Mistoria Group founded in 2009 has just completed 10 years of major growth and expansion into one of the leading providers of student housing in the North West. Over this period the group has also refurbished 250 properties importantly delivering new life into local communities. With over 900 properties in its portfolio alongside over 2000 tenancies under their management Mistoria now employs over 50 staff/contractors across the region.

Responding to the dramatic growth and demand for quality student accommodation Mistoria have expanded their property footprint into Liverpool and Bolton alongside growing their presence in Salford, Manchester. With its entrepreneurial CEO Mish Liyanage at its helm, Mistorias’ assets have dramatically risen over the last decade from £3m to £115m. Meanwhile the groups turnover has been transformed from £578,000 to over £20m in the same period delivering an impressive growth in nett profit after taxes from £15,000 to £337,000 across the Group of companies.

Apart from managing student property Mistoria have also carved out a successful niche in offering investment in the ‘buy to let’ market and with their experience alongside local knowledge they have delivered yields for their investor clients of up to 13%. Meanwhile the recent purchases of regional property businesses Pick my Pad and Student Haus confirm the acquisitive nature of Mistoria to deliver future growth for their rapidly growing business.

Following this impressive growth The Mistoria Group recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary at the Lowry Hotel in Manchester with staff and business partners alongside announcing long service awards for Rob Flint and April Calderbank who have worked for the group for 8 years. In addition the staff and management team also helped to raise £6,000 for the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, Liverpool Hospital Oncology Team and Centrepoint.

Mish Liyanage, The Mistoria Group’s CEO commented;

‘From humble beginnings I am proud to have grown The Mistoria Group into a reputable and fast growing property business here in my home region – the North West. We are committed to servicing the needs of clients who demand the very best possible results in all aspects of property investment and management. With a young and hard working team supporting me we also look forward to supporting the growing needs of our landlords, students as well as residential tenants by delivering high quality accommodation over the next decade. As we celebrated our 10 year anniversary we were very pleased to support three important charities who undertake vital work across our region and which have been personal to me.”

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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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Tenant Fees Act

tenancy fees

One June 1st 2019 the Tenant Fees Act will come into force prohibiting landlords and agents from charging any fees to tenants other than those that have been permitted by the act. Any contract that is signed after June 1 must adhere to the new regulations including those for tenancy fees.

The act applies to all short hold tenancies and student accommodation, but it only applies in England. Letting fees are already banned in Scotland and, while they are currently still legal in Wales and Northern Ireland, a similar policy was put before the Welsh government in June 2018 and is expected to come into force this September.

It’s become tradition in recent years for letting agents to charge administration fees on top of the usual deposit and first month’s rent when moving in a new tenant, but the act bans them as it is not a permitted fee.

What the act defines as a permitted tenancy fee are:

  • Rent
  • The deposit
  • A holding deposit to secure the property which is maxed at one week’s rent
  • Any changes to the property, e.g. the introduction of a pet or a change in the contract – this is capped at £50
  • Utilities like gas and water
  • Council tax
  • TV license fees
  • ‘Communication fees’, e.g. telephone and broadband

The act also allows for a fee to be charged if a tenant terminates the contract early, but in this case the landlord must be able to show reasonable loss has been suffered.

The new legislation also allows for certain fines to be written into each contract, but defines when and how much they a tenant can be charged. Late payment of rent is the main one, this can only be after 14 days have passed and interest at a maximum of 3% above base rate.

Tenancy Fees that are no longer permitted include:

  • Property viewing
  • Referencing
  • Administration charges
  • Guarantors Inventory checks
  • Pet fees/deposits
  • Renewal/exit fees
  • Professional end of tenancy cleaning
  • Third party fees – unless the tenant chooses to undertake the services themselves
  • Gardening services -unless this is included in the rent

The last major change the act implements is restrictions on how much can be charged for a deposit. If the total annual rent is less than £50,000, the deposit is capped at five weeks rent. If the rent is between £50,000 and £100,000 then the landlord can request up to six weeks.

Deposits must be protected in one of the three government backed tenancy schemes within 30 days of the payment being taken.

Breach of the legislation is a civil offence and can incur a £5,000 fine. If there is another breach within five years of the initial one, then it becomes a criminal offence which could carry jail time.

In addition to this. the landlord or agent who charged the unlawful fee will not be able to evict a tenant until they have repaid all of the illegal charges.

If in doubt the full policy can be found on the government’s website.

We would be more than happy to talk to any prospective tenants about how the new rules will be implemented by Pcik My Pad, so if you have any questions about tenancy fees then please contact our team.

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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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What local amenities are important to you when choosing where to live?

When it comes to choosing somewhere to live, it’s all about location, location, location, right? But just what does this mean to you? What local amenities make a place more desirable?

Is it the shops in the area? The schools, the views, the local pub?

A new study by Good Move suggests a shift in traditional preferences. Living in the catchment area of a good school is slipping in popularity, making way for a new priority; budget supermarkets!

39% of respondents said they would like to live near a budget food retailer like Aldi or Lidl. Just 29% sited a good school as a priority, which had previously been a top preference for many years.

The trend appears to be driven by younger generations, with 54% of Gen Z (those aged 18-24) saying living near a budget supermarket was a top priority. This number steadily dropped with age, with 34% of over 45s placing importance on cheaper stores.

This makes for interesting reading as both Gen Z and Millennials (22-37 year olds) continue to struggle to get on the housing ladder. Despite this, the amenity they place most significance on now ranks second in the overall desirable amenities’ charts.

Across all age demographics, the 10 most desirable amenities are:

1. Scenic views – 44%
2. Budget supermarkets, such as Aldi, Lidl and Iceland – 39%
3. Local restaurants/bars – 37%
4. Traditional pubs – 36%
5. Independent shops – 34%
6. Walking trails – 33%
7. High-end supermarkets, such as Waitrose and Marks and Spencer – 32%
8. A certain school catchment area – 29%
9. Coffee shops – 28%
10. Local library – 25%

Ross Counsell, Director at Good Move, said: “Everyone has their own priorities when moving house, but it’s interesting to see how the overall patterns are changing.”

“Budget supermarkets are definitely growing in popularity, especially among the younger generations, and their presence in a region is now making a place more desirable to live.”

Let the team at Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton help you with your next property move. Be it a purchase or a rental, we can help find you the perfect place based on your requirements and needs. Our team know the local area and property market well so you can trust us to find a home that is just right for you.

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How to avoid pest infestation problems

A recent study carried out by a manufacturer and retailer of blinds, shutters, carpets and curtains showed that 64% of Brits who have experienced a pest infestation in their property were renting at the time. Of the 2,000-people surveyed, 57% responded that they had encountered problems related to pest at some point within their home.

Most of us have once encountered some creepy crawlies in our homes. However, dealing with a recurring infestation is a totally different situation, which may become expensive and stressful at the same time. There are many reasons why a pest infestation may occur. It is worth establishing what exactly led to such a situation, in order to prevent it from occurring in the future. If disrepair of property is the reason for creatures making their way inside and there is a noticeable presence of pest and vermin, it can be a health and safety hazard for who is currently living in the property.

One reason rental properties may be more prone to infestations could be a lack of (understanding of) responsibility. Just who’s job is it to prevent and deal with pests? Is it the tenant or the landlord? With each side (perhaps) presuming the other is on top of upkeep in the home, those pesky pests can make their way in and quickly cause havoc.

At Mistoria Estate Agents we want to remind our tenants of their responsibilities when it comes to preventing pest infestations. At the same time, we want to highlight to other landlords their responsibility when it comes to maintaining their properties to avoid pest problems, and how using a full service letting agent like Mistoria Estate Agents can means we take on that responsibility for you.

Tips to avoid pest infestations

These tips apply to landlords and tenants alike.

In short, if there is disrepair in the property concerning holes in the floor, walls or ceiling, it is the responsibility of the landlord to deal with and solve the pest problem before tenants move in to the property and during the tenancy. However, if poor hygiene and upkeep of the property is the issue, it’s the tenants that need to up their game.

The first and best pest control method is to prevent your property from becoming vulnerable to pests in the first place. When the pest infestation does enter the property, it can be costly to get rid of and repair the havoc caused by the pest.

Communication between landlords and tenants is important as most of the time it is the tenant who will first notice the signs of a pest problem. It would suit the landlord to occasionally check upon the tenants, to see if they have noticed anything that needs further attention. Periodic inspections of the inside and outside of the property can help landlords and tenants to catch troubling pest issues at an early stage. It is advised all rental property undergo quarterly checks to ensure there is no damage or concerns.

Keeping the place clean and tidy is as important as checking for damage. Pests will be attracted to anything that could be seen as a food source. Landlord should inform tenants, via the tenancy agreement, that they must keep the property clean and tidy. Keeping surfaces and floors clean, especially of food, storing leftover food in containers and not leaving rubbish bags unsealed and lying around will help to keep pests away.

The outside area surrounding the property also needs attention. Keeping the area clear from any rubbish and old furniture prevents the chance for pests to build nests in them. Keeping food outside for wildlife such as bird seeds can attract pests to the property. To prevent this, it is recommended to elevated food from the ground and away from the house. This can be easily done by investing in a bird table or feeding stations for the wildlife.

Advice when you have a pest infestation

If there are noticeable signs of damage caused by any infestation, you need to get in touch with your local council’s environmental health department. They should provide you with the details of a pest control service near you and can give you information depending on which species is causing the problem. Alternatively, they may advise you on what to do to sort out the problem yourself, if the problem is manageable.

Private pest control companies are always an option when the problem is not self-manageable. If you choose to hire a private company resolve the problem, it’s going to cost you. It could even cost more than the fees charged by the council. It is always worth a quick call around for some quotes to find out prices differences.

Bear in mind that some landlord or property insurances may provide coverage of the costs and help in such situations. Often a standard policy covers costs for nest removal. Having the right insurance coverage in place can be worth it, as it may save you time and money in case of pest infestation removal.

Mistoria tenants and landlords

In the first instant, Mistoria Estate Agent tenants should contact us to report any pest problems and we will be able to advise you on the next steps. We may need to visit the property to assess the situation and determine how we move forward. Remember, it is the tenants responsibility to maintain good hygiene habits to prevent pests, however if the disrepair of the property is at fault, the landlord/letting agent must repair the problem. If you’re a landlord and would like to know more about your responsibilities and how Mistoria Estate Agents can help manage your property, please call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

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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.

Summer photo created by freepic.diller – www.freepik.com

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‘Right to Rent’ breaches human rights

The High Court has ruled that the current ‘Right to Rent’ checks breach human rights.

The scheme requires landlords and letting agents to check the immigration status of tenants by checking their passport or visas and has been in force across England since 2016. Failing to do so is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment or a fine.

The scheme was introduced under the 2014 Immigration Act which aimed to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in the UK.

In a review of the process, brought by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), judges said the policy had “little or no effect” on its aim of controlling immigration.

It said evidence “strongly showed” the scheme was causing landlords to discriminate against potential tenants because of their nationality or ethnicity, something the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) agrees with. The RLA has welcomed the ruling saying the scheme had turned landlords into “untrained and unwilling border police.” RLA research had found that fear of getting things wrong led to private landlords being less likely to rent to those without a British passport or those with limited time to remain in the UK.

This discriminatory attitude of landlords, through fear of possible prosecution under the Right to Rent scheme, has in part, led to the High Court ruling.

On the flip-side, the Home Office said it was “disappointed” by the ruling and said an independent study found no evidence of systematic discrimination in its policy and the scheme was intended to discourage illegal residence in the UK. The government are expected to appeal against the decision.

What does all this mean for landlords?

For the moment, nothing changes. Landlords and letting agents in England are required to continuing checking applications has they have been doing.

If you are a landlord and require assistance managing the tenants, and/or maintenance of your property, Mistoria Estate Agents can help. Let us take the hard work out of being a landlord and ensure you comply with current regulations, including Right to Rent checks. Call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

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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.