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Surviving in a Shared House

houses to rent worsley

Living with your friends in a shared house can be brilliant.  But maintaining domestic harmony can sometimes be a struggle, especially during stressful periods. That’s why we’ve written this blog post – so that you know how to survive in a shared house! 

Choose Your Housemates Wisely

Before you even start looking for a house, you need to sort out who you’ll be living with. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. A good idea is to live with the people who you get on with and who you know can live without mess and drama. Alternatively, you could live with people from your favourite sports club, as that way you’ll have something in common (though that’s no guarantee they’ll be good housemates!). 

If there’s something you find irritating about a friend, remember that this will be much more noticeable when you see them all the time in your own home. You should also consider how many people you want to live with; in larger houses, there’ll be more chance of arguments and less chance of privacy, but if you’re a social butterfly, a large house might be perfect for you. 

Room Allocation

When you move into your new house, there’ll probably be a desperate rush for the biggest room. But to avoid arguments, deciding who gets which room should be a democratic process. Each room will have its advantages and disadvantages and you should consider what’s most important to you. If some rooms are considerably bigger than others you may consider splitting them by price, or you could allocate on a first come first served basis.  

Keep Things Tidy

To keep up good relations with everyone in your house, try and avoid conflicts wherever possible. Arguments usually start over the cleanliness of the house. It’s fine to have a messy room, but in communal areas, you should make sure your things are packed away after you’ve used them. Make sure you wash your dishes once you’ve used them. It’s really easy to let plates build up until you have a festering mess in your kitchen and nothing to eat from. 

It’s worth sitting down with your housemates to write up a cleaning rota. That way, every part of the house will be cleaned regularly and no one will be able to argue about whether it’s their turn later down the line.

Ask To Use Your Friends Things

If you’ve run out of cutlery because you’ve not done the washing up, it’s tempting to ‘borrow’ your friends’ things. If you come in drunk and have no food in, you may even decide to steal some of your friends’ food from the fridge. That can cause huge arguments, especially if someone comes down to find they have nothing for breakfast. It goes without saying that you should always ask before taking anything. It may also be a good idea to mark your things with your name.

Don’t Let Your Partner Move In

There is usually only enough space in communal areas for the number of occupants in your property. It can be really frustrating when someone you barely know spends all their time hogging the kitchen or taking lazy showers when you need to get ready to go to lectures. Your housemates will also get irritated that your partner isn’t paying rent or bills but is still using the house’s facilities. No one is stopping you having your partner over a few times a week, but if they’re there all the time, don’t be surprised when your friends get annoyed. 

Pay Your Bills

If your house has opted to pay their own bills rather than move into a bills-included home, it’s best to have one person responsible for collecting all utility payments. Make sure you pay them the right amount, on time. It’s unfair on the lead payer if you’ve not paid your share and they’re left covering for you. Remember that everyone is sharing the cost, so don’t turn up the heating just to walk around in shorts!

Looking For A Shared House?

If you’re looking for houses to rent, Worsley based Pick My Pad have a wide range of properties available. Contact us now. 

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Dealing With Damp and Condensation in Your Property

estate agents worsley

The days are getting shorter, the leaves are falling from the trees and there’s a noticeable chill in the air. That must mean it’s Autumn! It also means it’s time to start thinking about ways to prevent damp and condensation in your property. 

Condensation

The most common cause of damp in a property is the build-up of condensation. It should be made clear to your tenants that it is their responsibility to prevent condensation in the property. Once you have installed extractor fans in bathrooms, stress that tenants should switch these on every time they shower or take a bath. It might be worth investing in an extractor fan that switches on automatically in time with the bathroom light. That way, you won’t have to rely on your tenants remembering to do so. Extractor fans should also be fitted in the kitchen above the hob. Boiling water causes lots of steam to be produced, which will settle on the walls and windows if not removed. 

Advise your tenants to open their windows regularly, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. During the colder months, they may be reluctant to do so, but windows need only be open for ten minutes a day for a noticeable difference in the levels of condensation build-up. Remind them that they need to close and lock all of their windows before leaving their house each day. 

Tell your tenants not to put wet clothing on radiators. The water vapour mixing with the hot air will rise and settle on walls and windows. You may wish to fit a clothes line to encourage your tenants to dry their clothes outside.

Rising Damp  

Rising damp occurs when groundwater seeps through the bricks and mortar of a building because its damp course has failed. It is your responsibility as a landlord to make the building watertight again by fitting a new damp course. The cost should not be passed on to your tenants. You should ask a professional for their advice; rising damp is often misdiagnosed and fitting a new damp course could end up being a needless expense. 

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp occurs when water enters a building via an external wall or the roof and settles inside. This will invariably be because of a fault within the building, such as holes in the roof, damaged gutters, or cracks in the external render. Again, it is your responsibility to ensure that these issues are remedied and that the house is fit for habitation. Fixing penetrating damp is usually a simple process. Make a note of anywhere that the damp appears and find that point on the exterior of your property. Around this area you should be able to quickly find the fault and fix it yourself with some simple DIY. For serious problems, consult an experienced surveyor. A check of the whole building may be required to ensure the damp has not become wet rot, which would be disastrous for the structural integrity of your property.     

Resolving Damp Issues  

Pick My Pad estate agents, Worsley, have a dedicated maintenance team on hand to resolve any property issues for our landlords and tenants. Contact us now to find out how we can help you. 

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The Mistoria Group Eyes £10k Challenge Supporting Liverpool Hospitals

The Mistoria Group Eyes £10k Challenge Supporting Two Liverpool Hospitals

The Mistoria Group is raising a total of £10k to help fund important research for the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and the Liverpool Oncology Centre to mark the 10 year anniversary of their North West property business. Mish Liyanage the Groups CEO has experienced first hand the excellent work that both hospitals undertake following his treatment for eye cancer.

The Liverpool Oncology Centre specialises in cancers and tumours of the eye and patients travel across the world to be treated by their dedicated team. Their success is down to patients who donate tissue for research and also from generous financial support provided by previous patients helping to purchase state of the art equipment to study eye tumours.

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, the second of The Mistoria Group charities, provided Mish with important radio proton therapy and delivered successful treatment on his optical nerve, saving the sight in his eyeHe was very impressed by the dedicated care and attention provided by the hospital team not just to himself but also the support provided to his family.

Mish’s personal experience with the Liverpool Oncology Centre and the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre shows the importance of continued investment in new research facilities whilst delivering a high level of care to patients and their families.

His successful treatment, the dedicated staff and the excellent care provided by both hospitals made them both natural choices for The Mistoria Group when deciding to choose two charities in Merseyside to mark the company’s 10 year milestone.

Mish Liyanage CEO ‘The Mistoria Group’ commented:

“Following life changing surgery and the world class care that I experienced, I am proud that The Mistoria Group is supporting the Liverpool Oncology Centre and the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre as part of our 10 year anniversary celebrations.’’

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How To Make Your Bedroom Feel Like Home

flats to rent Little Hulton

You’ve probably seen hundreds of pictures on Instagram of beautifully decorated rooms with hanging fairy lights and plants on the windowsill. Now, you might want to recreate that aesthetic for yourself. We’ve put together some tips and tricks to achieve the same look without breaking the bank. Your bedroom will look gorgeous in no time!

Fairy Lights

Fairy lights are possibly the most instagrammable part of your room. Their soft light makes everything look great and can be really soothing when you’ve had a tough day at work. You can buy them shortly after Christmas for a massively discounted price. Make sure you buy ones that plug into the mains so you’re not constantly paying for new batteries. Drape a strand around your bed or over your noticeboard if you have one. Remember to turn them off before you fall asleep, though.

Print Out Family Photos

A good way to stay connected with your family is to print out pictures of them along with ones of your friends and pets. Having these familiar faces around you can be really comforting if you’re having a bad day and can really cheer you up. There are many online services that allow you to upload your pictures, print them as polaroids and have them sent straight to your door. You can then hang them from a piece of string with wooden pegs you’ve decorated yourself.  

Plants

A great way to make a room prettier is to buy some potted plants. They boost your mood and add a splash of colour and lots of oxygen to your room. Given that you’ll probably forget to water them from time to time, we recommend going for hardy cacti. If you know you’ll never remember, consider getting some realistic plastic plants to brighten up your room.  

New Bedding and Pillows 

Your bed will obviously be the most noticeable thing in your bedroom, so really make it stand out with some new bedding. You can go for something plain, something wacky, or something nostalgic (Disney duvet cover? Don’t mind if I do…). You can often find duvet covers and pillow-cases on sale at Primark. If you really want to go all out and make your room extra comfy, get some more cushions from a charity shop. 

Posters

Show off your individuality with a few posters. They might be of your favourite TV show or film, or your favourite band. Make sure you don’t use something to stick them up that will leave a mark though, such as greasy blu-tac.   

Keep Things Tidy

Buy a laundry bag so you don’t have to wade through mountains of clothes when you wake up every morning. Tidy up the rest of your room by putting your books and folders on shelves and buy storage boxes that fit under your bed to put some of your stuff in.

Good Speakers

Whether you plan to rock out to your favourite tracks, or host film nights for you and your friends, a good pair of speakers is essential. There are lots of cheap options available online. 

Looking To Rent A House?

If you’ve just begun searching for flats to rent, Little Hulton and Walkden based Pick My Pad is here to help. Speak to our expert team now.

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Capital Growth vs Rental Yield – Do You Know the Difference?

estate agents walkden

If you are considering investing in Salford student lettings, two phrases will have popped up more than any others; capital growth and rental yield. But do you know what they mean? In this blog post, we break down the difference between the two; understanding these phrases is key to successful investing. 

Rental Yield

Rental yield refers to how much profit you will make by renting out your property. There’s an easy way to calculate it too. Just divide the annual rental income amount by the price for which you plan to purchase your property. Times your result by 100. Now you have your rental yield value.

Here’s an example:

You buy a property for £90,000. Your gross annual rental income is £6500. Your rental yield is therefore (6500/90,000) x 100, which gives a value of 7.2%.

You can expect particularly high rental yields in the student rental sector. At Mistoria Estate Agents, the rental yield on many of our Salford student lettings is far higher than can be achieved on a traditional Buy-To-Let (BTL) property. This is because when you rent out an HMO, or ‘House in Multiple Occupation’, to students, you are able to collect rent from every tenant. This is not possible in a conventional BTL property, in which you might only receive one monthly payment.

Capital Growth

Capital growth is the value by which your property will increase over time, from the point of purchase to the point of sale. So if you buy a property for £90,000 and sell it five years later for £120,000, the capital gain is £30,000.  

There are many factors which affect this value, from potential area regeneration to new transport links. Researching the area in which you wish to invest is key if your ultimate goal is capital growth. 

Investors should note that population growth does not necessarily lead to capital growth. You need a combination of an attractive property type, an increasingly attractive location and a large population with the finance to be able to buy property. Investors should research locations to see if any regeneration projects are in the pipeline and what the demographics are in a certain area. Investors should also be aware of stamp duty which now runs at 8% for properties over £250,001 if it is a second property.

How Pick My Pad Can Help

If you are considering investing in property but are unsure about the jargon and legislation, come and speak to Pick My Pad Estate Agents, Walkden.

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The ‘Tenant Tax’: Advice for Landlords

walkden property

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 Walkden property, North West 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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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