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.

Will Mortgage Relief changes in 2017 hit buy-to-let landlords in Bristol?

The team at City Rental Services have been speaking to some concerned buy-to-let landlords in Bristol recently – and their cause for concern is over upcoming property legislation for 2017 around the subject of Mortgage Relief.

Advice for buy-to-let landlords in Bristol from City Rental Services

From 06th April 2017, the Government is introducing new legislation affecting the current mortgage relief rules for property investors and property landlords.

This measure will restrict relief for finance costs on residential properties to the basic rate of Income Tax. This will be introduced gradually from 6 April 2017.

Finance costs includes mortgage interest, interest on loans to buy furnishings and fees incurred when taking out or repaying mortgages or loans. No relief is available for capital repayments of a mortgage or loan.

Landlords will no longer be able to deduct all of their finance costs from their property income to arrive at their property profits. They will instead receive a basic rate reduction from their income tax liability for their finance costs.

Landlords will be able to obtain relief as follows:

  • in 2017 to 2018 the deduction from property income (as is currently allowed) will be restricted to 75% of finance costs, with the remaining 25% being available as a basic rate tax reduction
  • in 2018 to 2019, 50% finance costs deduction and 50% given as a basic rate tax reduction
  • in 2019 to 2020, 25% finance costs deduction and 75% given as a basic rate tax reduction
  • from 2020 to 2021 all financing costs incurred by a landlord will be given as a basic rate tax reduction

This could potentially restrict the profitability for some buy-to-let landlords in BS postcodes, leading to a slowing down of property investment in the city.

You can read more about the potential legislation and upcoming changes here.

What we would advise at this stage is not to panic, or to pull any potential property investment deals, but to instead monitor and review the legislation and make a fully-informed decision based on your existing property portfolio.

If you’re looking for advice on 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.

Wavering property landlords could force up rental prices in Bristol

The team at City Rental Services came across a useful industry news article recently, and wanted to highlight the concerns in the news story for our readers.

The news article, which can be read in full here, discusses growing concerns in the PRS over hesitant property landlords feeling unsure and uncertain about the property market after the Brexit vote.

advice for property landlords in Bristol from letting agency City Rental Services

Although, according to the article, the industry overall has responded to Brexit in a calm and organized way, there are pockets of buy-to-let property landlords in Bristol and across the wider UK that are faltering on growing their property portfolios, for fear of negative financial implications post-Brexit.

As one of Bristol busy Lettings Agents we are finding that the demand for rental property continues to grow and has not in any way faltered since the leave vote.

Those buy-to-let landlords in various popular postcodes such as BS7 who have both student and professional well maintained reasonably priced properties appear continue to keep their properties tenanted all year round.

If you’re looking for advice on 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 team member joins our Gloucester Road lettings agency

The team at City Rental Services are pleased to announce the arrival of a new team member.

Scott Matthews, pictured below, joined our lettings team at the end of July 2016 having come from a postgraduate teaching background in Bath.

Bristol letting agency City Rental Services

Scott has expressed a keen interested in property management, and we have been very impressed with his varied skills and his ability to settle into his role with ease and efficiency.

Scott is based in our central Bristol office and has already enjoyed meeting many of our valued Bristol landlords. We feel sure that over the coming months Scott will grow into and excel at becoming a fine ‘Lettings negotiator’.

Commenting on the new role, Scott said:

“Having recently been a student myself, I am familiar with the experience of renting while studying away from home. Though exciting, it can be pretty daunting – especially when it is a new experience. I am therefore keen to help in making tenants feel at ease when renting properties through our agency.”

Scott will be working closely with both tenants and landlords over the coming months, as well as helping to oversee the day-to-day running of the agency rented property portfolio. Welcome on board, Scott!

If you’re looking for advice on 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 has the Brexit decision affected Bristol property landlords?

This is a question which the management team at City Rental Services have been asking in recent weeks, following the huge build-up to the Brexit vote in England.

Advice for Bristol property landlords on Brexit from City Rental Services

And whilst opinion to remain in or leave the EU had pretty much all of us divided across Bristol, the impact of the UK vote has had Bristol property landlords pondering the future profitability of their rented accommodation portfolios in various BS postcodes ever since the results came out.

We came across a brief but useful article around the Brexit issue from industry body NLA, which can be read in full here.

We think the simple but practical advice given – to, basically, take a deep breath, be calm, and continue on as usual until new measures come into place which require attention and action – to be a wise piece of advice.

It’s unclear how the decision to leave the EU will affect Bristol buy-to-let landlords and property investors in the city in the short-term, but one thing that hasn’t changed in the city is the demand for reasonably-priced, good quality rented properties in all the usual rental hotspots across the city.

Our team of experienced rented property professionals and lettings negotiators are on hand in our Gloucester Road office to advise and assist landlords, as always. Pop in for a chat to see us and discuss Brexit further.

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

Another successful student changeover for our Bristol lettings office

The management team here at City Rental Services are recovering after the annual student changeover – but what exactly does it entail, you might ask?

Student accommodation in Bristol from City Rental Services

After months of careful planning, legislation compliance and 1000’s of forms being electronically signed we at City Rental Services are proud to say, “It all went very well”.

On the 01st and 2nd of July, our office team moved approximately 400 City Rental Services students, into a range of student accommodation in Bristol.

It became clear that many months of forward planning in the cleaning, gardening and general upkeep departments made the swap a much smoother and easier task than in previous years.

With most of the work being carried out prior to the move in date by City Rental Services the landlords had only to test the fire and smoke alarms while checking in their tenants leaving time for resolving any deposit disputes and arranging for deposits to be refunded to outgoing tenants whilst attending to the needs of new tenants taking up occupation of their chosen homes for the student season 2016/2017.

This year our portfolio of letting-only landlords in Bristol have relied on whatever help they can get from us to help them cope with the ever-increasing legislative burdens imposed on property landlords.

Maybe the recent Brexit developments will keep the policy makers busy and give hard-pushed buy-to-let landlords more time to get on with the job of providing fairly priced and good quality rented accommodation in the BS postcodes that remain popular each year.

It won’t be long until November comes and it will be time to start over again!

But until then, we hope that all of our new students, their families, and our student property landlords in Bristol have a lovely summer.

Perhaps by choosing City Rental Services as your Letting only Landlord agency you will have more time for the summer pursuits, whether it may be festivals, football, tennis or just watching the tide roll in and out we wish you all well.

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