A new career at City Rental Services

This week at City Rental Services, we’re handing over our Bristol rented property blog to new recruit Scott Matthews, to highlight his new career so far with us:

Scott Matthews at independent letting agency in Bristol City Rental Services

Having worked for City Rental Services for just over six months, I have learnt a lot in my short time here, including the ins and outs of not just letting a property but maintaining it throughout its tenancy.

Having been a student myself, I have found an enthusiasm for helping students find their ideal properties at this time of year when there is such a competitive demand.

For students it can be a stressful and time-consuming time whereby in most cases, they have had just months to kindle new friendships and must commit to finding accommodation for the next year of study.

I have had the opportunity to meet some of these students facing the challenge this year and I have taken great pride in being able to help them find their perfect home.

At City Rental Services, we strive to make our application process as easily accessible as possible.

Through the use of electronic application forms and online payment details, the large majority of the process can be completed from the comfort of their own homes.

We also offer a lot of flexibility for when they do need to pop in to see us.

Each day at City Rental Services has brought something new, and I have enjoyed rising to different challenges and the experience that it brings.

As we move closer to the start of the next academic year we are preparing for the period in which we move students in and out of our properties.

I am very much looking forward to this time, where all of the work pays off and the students, in their hundreds, embark on the next chapter of their life at university.

Scott

How important are inventories for property landlords in Bristol?

The management team at City Rental Services have been assisting more property landlords in Bristol with inventories so far in 2017, and we decided to write a full blog post highlighting the importance of full inventories for rented accommodation.

advice for property landlords in Bristol from City Rental Services

One of the first questions many property landlords in Bristol ask us is whether an inventory is compulsory. Our response is always the same.

Tenancy deposit protection does not make inventories compulsory. However, in practice, they are essential.

Not only is an inventory needed in the sense of a list of items included in the tenancy but will have to record any damage the condition of each item. Any existing defects at the beginning of the tenancy will need to be set out.

If your deposit is intended to cover damage to the property itself, you will also need a condition schedule.  Again, this will need to record any damage, which exists when the tenancy starts.

An inventory and condition schedule should be taken at the beginning of a tenancy with the tenant present where possible. The tenant should then sign that they are in agreement. This same documentation will then be used whilst conducting the check out at the end of the tenancy.

If an item of furniture is new or if the property has been recently internally decorated this will need to be recorded in your conditions schedule and a full photographic record is advisable. It is advisable to have any photographic evidence dated.

Published articles have said that there have been a number of decisions by adjudicators under existing voluntary schemes, which show that unless you follow these rules there is little or no chance of you recovering anything out of the deposit for damage.

Likewise, decisions by a District Judge in County Court small claims have also shown that without an inventory and schedule of condition, it is less likely that you will be awarded any part of the deposit to make good any damage caused.

In our experience, it is common for a tenant to claim that the damage already existed when the tenancy started!

If, following the end of the tenancy, you have to make good any damage it is advisable to have proper receipts, estimates and invoices.

If you’re looking for advice on managing rented accommodation in Bristol, please call into 58 Gloucester Road to see us – as an independent letting agency in Bristol, we’re here to help.

What documentation should Bristol landlords give their tenants?

We’re all busy here at City Rental Services dealing with new tenants for rented accommodation across Bristol, and handling new tenancy agreements in various BS postcodes.

Registering Deposits

As we all know deposits have to be registered with a registered deposit scheme and the relevant documentation has to be issued.

Advice from City Rental Services on documentation bristol landlords should give tenants

Deposits should be protected and documents served within 30 days of receipt of the funds.

Here are the guidelines on documentation to be issued to tenants after registering their tenancy deposits in an approved scheme.

  • Copy of the deposit protection certificate/receipt
  • Prescribed Information
  • The deposit protection scheme leaflet for tenants

It’s a good idea to check with your deposit scheme’s rules and guidance as they may require you to give your tenant further information to the standard requirements listed above.

Deposits should be protected and documents served within 30 days of receipt of the funds.

The tenancy deposit scheme with which you have protected your deposit with will provide you with your tenancy deposit certificate and receipt.

Under legal requirements, it is required that you give a copy of the deposit protection certificate and prescribed information to the tenants, and any third parties that have contributed to the deposit. I.e. if a parent has contributed to the deposit they also require a certificate and prescribed information.

Failure to give the prescribed information to the tenant or any third party can leave the deposit registration invalid, and landlords may be subject to penalty.

The RLA strongly suggests that all recipients should sign a document to confirm they have received the prescribed information, along with the accompanying documents.

Here at City Rental Services our T’s and C’s clearly state that all applicants agree to receive emails from us and with that in mind, all essential documents are emailed at the very beginning of our application process to both the tenants and the guarantors.

If you’re looking for advice on managing rented accommodation in Bristol, please call into 58 Gloucester Road to see us – as an independent letting agency in Bristol, we’re here to help.

Looking for student accommodation in Bristol in 2017?

Firstly, the management team at City Rental Services would like to wish our landlords and tenants a very Happy New Year.

And, with the student lets for 2017 have already taken off in a whirlwind of enquiries, viewings and applications.

student accommodation in Bristol from City Rental Services

With many properties already let and more in the process of being let to those looking for student accommodation in Bristol, the City Rental Services team are as busy as ever running around BS7 carrying out numerous viewings.

In the office this week, for example, the phones are ringing red hot, with over 70 more student houses to let being uploaded to RightMove.

During this early stage of student lets for 2017, there are many properties for prospective tenants to choose from, and it’s already noticeable that the more up together and well-presented properties are letting first.

And for property landlords in Bristol, it’s a good time to consider a few minor improvements to make your property more attractive, such as painting front doors, tidy the gardens, and cleaning the windows.

This year, CRS has made some improvements to its systems and sees the launch of a new bespoke property letting database that’s able to deal quickly and efficiently with all applications from start to finish online.

City Rental Services groups have been instructed to make ONE whole DEPOSIT payment per group this year, in an attempt to eliminate multiple single payments being received over a long period of time from student tenants in Bristol.

This is a new concept that we hope will make our landlords’ accounting easier and clearer.

All deposits should be registered within 30 days of receipt and a copy of the certificate sent on to admin@citypropertylets.co.uk for our records.

City Rental Services will issue a copy of the certificate to all groups as a standard part of the application process.

Coming soon will also be a New Tariff of Services for letting only landlords, which we’ll discuss in further on a blog post.

City Rental Services are proud to be offering a new comprehensive “Tariff of Services” this year in an attempt to assist our letting only landlords in the run-up to, and changeover period, of student houses.

Services will vary from simple key holding to complete handling of the changeover period – watch this space for further details in coming weeks.

Please feel free to drop in, email or call us with any enquires.

If you’re looking for advice on managing student accommodation in Bristol, please call into 58 Gloucester Road (hyperlink with http://www.city-rental-services.co.uk/find-us) to see us – as an independent letting agency in Bristol, we’re here to help.

Wishing our valued CRS property landlords a very Merry Christmas & a Healthy, Happy New Year

It’s now our 20th year of providing simple specialist services to a selected group of letting only landlords operating in the Bristol area – and we wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Christmas wishes for property landlords in Bristol from City Rental Services

As we all look forward to our long-awaited time off for Christmas and the New Year we also take a bit of time to reflect on our successes.

Our success is based upon the objective of letting your properties satisfactorily at a fair and reasonable rent that is sustainable for your tenants.

Whether you are a student landlord with a 12-month let, six months already completed, or a professional landlord with steady tenants in a one or two bedroom flat or family home, we aim to ensure that you are so satisfied with our service that when you are ready to re-let in Bristol, your choice will once again be City Rental Services.

During the last 12 months, we have become aware that there are other services that our letting-only landlords would like some help with, so we will be offering a new range of services tailored to individual needs.

Some of you experimented with these during the Summer changeover weeks and we felt confident that we were able to help you enjoy the Summer, secure in the knowledge that CRS would be caring for your clients – namely, your tenants.

This year has seen the completion of the installation of our new database and electronic systems.

We are now proud to announce that we are running a fully electronic and online application and payments system, bringing new expertise and speed to our busy student and professional lets.

With the letting of our 2017 student properties already well underway, we prepare to take on new challenges in the coming year.

As the industry is constantly changing and it seems like new legislation every ten minutes, we have kept our ear to the ground and passed on as much information to our landlords to keep them within the ever changing new guidelines.

Throughout the year there has been a great deal of demand for both the smaller properties and larger houses with an increased demand for professional sharers.

This is due to the increased cost of living and as budgets are squeezed the prospect of renting alone with all the associated costs is less appealing so groups of young professionals get together.

With regard to student properties, the larger properties are very popular with the student groups with property sizes ranging from 2 beds to 12 beds.

It is our duty to ensure that as we provide a wider variety of services that the rules and regulations set up to protect tenants and keep them safe in their rental properties are adhered to. This protects them, which in turn protects our property landlords too.

There are more onerous laws and regulations for the larger properties associated with letting these bigger units. The regulations can be reviewed here

So as we reach the end of 2016, a big thank you to you all for letting us let your rented properties in Bristol for you.

If you’re looking for advice on managing rented accommodation in Bristol, please call into 58 Gloucester Road to see us – as an independent letting agency in Bristol, we’re here to help.

How to prepare rented properties in Bristol for Winter weather

With the onset of Winter weather upon us, the team here at City Rental Services have been advising property landlords on how to prepare their rented properties for colder, windier and wetter weather ahead.

advice on preparing rented properties in Bristol for Winter weather form City Rental Services

The importance of getting rented houses and flats in Bristol ready for Winter weather cannot be under-estimated. A well-prepared rented property portfolio can save landlords thousands of pounds.

Remember that landlords in Bristol have a ‘duty of care’ for their tenants – this includes providing tenants with adequate heating, a water supply, sanitation, and safe gas and electricity supplies.

Our top tips for preparing rented properties in BS postcodes for Winter weather include the following:

Protect the pipes – frozen pipes can be a huge concern for landlords and the cost of repairing them is usually high.

Prepare the heating system – check all heating appliances, to prevent costly call-out charges and repairs if they break during freezing temperatures with unhappy tenants to also deal with.

Remember general maintenance – look at all general jobs in your rented properties to ensure that all items are up-to-date before the Winter weather sets in for the long haul.

Check the roof – look for any slipped, cracked or loose roof tiles. Remember to check the condition of chimney pots, TV aerials and satellite dishes.

Prepare the pipes – check external pipes for breaks, leaks and blockages. Also fit pipes that are vulnerable to frost and freezing water with insulation.

Supply stop cock information – find out where the stop cock is for each property, and inform tenants where they can find it, in case they need to shut off the water supply during an emergency.

Clear all guttering – remove leaves and any debris, to prevent the chance of blockages and water damage.

Get Gas Safe – ensure that a Gas Safe-registered installer certifies all boilers, cookers, gas fires and flues.

Bleed all radiators – if a radiator is colder at the top, it needs bleeding. Doing this will release trapped air, as well as helping the radiator to work more efficiently and put less pressure on the boiler.

Little and often – ensure that tenants leave the heating on low during any periods when they are away from the rented property – for Christmas, for example. This maintains a constant temperature around the pipes.

Prepare your tenants – provide your tenants with an information pack showing the stop cock location, appliance and boiler instructions, and a list of numbers to call during an emergency. Provide them with spare bulbs for external and internal lights, a torch in case of power cuts, and grit for icy pathways.

If you’re looking for advice on managing rented accommodation in Bristol, please call into 58 Gloucester Road to see us – as an independent letting agency in Bristol, we’re here to help.

New legislation could impact Bristol property landlords with HMOs

This week at City Rental Services we’ve noticed that the Government has published a consultation document which proposes extending the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation, or HMOs.

advice for Bristol property landlords from City Rental Services

This could, of course, potentially impact many property landlords in Bristol – particularly those dealing with groups of student tenants or young professionals sharing rented properties in various BS postcodes.

The main proposals are:

  • Removing the storey rule, so all rented houses – regardless of how many floors – with five or more people from 2 or more households are in scope – we think that this will further enable local authorities to tackle poor standards and the problems being seen in high-risk smaller properties as the sector has grown
  • Extending mandatory licensing to flats above and below business premises (regardless of the number of storeys), as evidence suggests that there are more problems in these type of rented properties in Bristol
  • Setting a minimum room size of 6.52sq-m in line with the existing overcrowding standard (Housing Act 1985) to close a loophole recently created by an upper-tier tribunal ruling. This is enabling some landlords to let rooms far too small for an adult to legally occupy.

In addition to the main consultation proposals, Chapter 4 seeks views on a number of measures within licensing, and is seeking views to making changes regarding:

  1. the evidential basis for determining ‘fit and proper’ – dealing with some of the current difficulties around disclosure checks
  2. refuse disposal in licensed properties
  3. the treatment of certain types of purpose-built student accommodation, and whether these should have a license

You can find the full consultation document and a link to respond here.

The response deadline is 13 December 2016, so we advise Bristol landlords to ensure they’re up-to-speed on this.

If you’re looking for advice on managing rented accommodation in Bristol, please call into 58 Gloucester Road to see us – as an independent letting agency in Bristol, we’re here to help.

Fire regulations updated for rented properties in Bristol

This week at City Rental Services  we’re going to discuss the need to check tenants in properly, promptly and professionally.

Our letting agents have recently been advised that it’s now a necessity to check that any fire protection system is in working order on the day any new tenancy commences in any rented property in Bristol.

fire regulation advice for landlords of rented properties in Bristol from City Rental Services

There are so many different types of fire protection systems – with the minimum legal requirement being 10-year-guaranteed smoke detectors on each level, and the maximum requirement being a full panel alarm in a rented house or apartment.

Bristol landlords who manage their own properties need to be fully aware of the need to comply with the legislation.

This means that they should not only ensure that at the very least 10-year-guaranteed battery-operated alarms are fitted, but also to ensure that the systems are checked and signed off as safe and fully operational on the first day of any new tenancy.

In addition, fire alarm systems need to be checked every six months and the certificates kept safely. This should also include Emergency Lighting Certificates, if fitted.

Tenants in rented properties in Bristol need to be given some understanding of how these systems work, and reminded NOT to interfere with the workings of the systems.

Tenants should also be educated on the importance of not removing or damaging detector heads, to respect the alarm systems and to take notice if the alarm actually rings.

A few moments spent with your tenants at the start of their tenancies can protect them should there be a fire. Potentially, it could save lives.

For further information on this important aspect of letting your property, check out the free downloadable PDF booklet for property landlords in Bristol here on The Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

If you’re looking for advice on managing rented accommodation in Bristol, please call into 58 Gloucester Road to see us – as an independent letting agency in Bristol, we’re here to help.

Bristol landlords – are you ready for Property Ombudsman rules?

This week at City Rental Services we’ve been considering the effect of new Property Ombudsman Regulations and their new Code of Practice for Residential Letting Agents, which came into effect on 01 October.

Advice for Bristol landlords from letting agency City Rental Services

There is a huge amount of information and direction to be found in the new Codes and Guidelines – which can be read here and this should be read by all letting agents and buy-to-let landlords in Bristol.

They will benefit from appreciating how tenants should be treated.

The sister organisation to City Rental Services, City Property Lets, has been focusing on the regulation relating to access to tenanted properties in various BS postcodes across the city.

We’re asked to ensure that all tenants grant permission before we go into a property on behalf of a landlord.

Property landlords must also be aware of the need for permission and so it would be advisable to obtain this in writing by email to let your tenants know of an imminent visit.

This way, it should make relations between you and your tenants more transparent and professional, as they know when you may be ‘popping in’ for a maintenance visit or property viewing.

Respecting tenants is vital: after all, it’s a two-way road between landlords and tenants. One party provides the property and the other the payment. So we’ll be revising our systems for keeping tenants fully informed of any visits and updating where needed.

We hope you’ve found this useful – but don’t forget to also check out the Property Ombudsman’s new guidelines here.

If you’re looking for advice on letting rented accommodation in Bristol, please call into 58 Gloucester Road to see us – as an independent letting agency in Bristol, we’re here to help.

Top tips to enhance your rented property in Bristol this Autumn

It’s the time of year when everyone at City Rental Services is advising our property landlord clients in Bristol on how to improve and spruce up their rented property portfolios.

tips for property landlords on preparing rented property in Bristol for Autumn from City Rental Services

And with Autumn well and truly upon us, now is the time to consider a few simple and straightforward tips on how to enhance the appearance of rented properties in BS postcodes, to generate more interest from potential tenants.

Our top tips for sprucing up rented properties in Bristol this Autumn include:

Focus on appearances – tidy up the area in front of the property, including washing windows, clearing leaves, pruning the front garden and cutting trees.

The clearing of gutters is always essential to stop the build up of leaves and blockages and always best to stop further damage to the exterior when the weather gets colder and not so easy to attend to.

Mould is always a problem when the heating gets switched on and the windows and doors are shut, especially in rented accommodation with more than two people sharing.

Make sure the mould is cleaned off and removed, bathrooms and kitchens should be repainted with anti-mould paint to not only to give a fresh appearance, but to also to prevent it from coming back.

Ensure all little jobs are completed such as dripping taps and leaking gutters.

Check all appliances are in order, including boiler and water heaters, are in warranty and covered for Winter usage and colder wetter weather.

If you’re looking for advice interior design for rented accommodation in Bristol, please call into 58 Gloucester Road to see us – as an independent letting agency in Bristol, we’re here to help.