Category Archives: Bristol landlords

Bristol landlords may need to increase rents by up to 30% as a result of tax changes

Rented property tenants with landlords in Bristol could face potential rent increases of up to 30% as a result of tax changes, analysis has found from our reading this week.

Many critics believe that the recent tax changes, in particular, the 3% stamp duty surcharge for those with second properties, are having a negative effect on the supply of rental properties, and are not the neutral non-discriminatory system that the government has suggested.

advice for property landlords in Brisotl on tax changes from City Rental Services

Re-think needed

Professor of financial economics at Imperial College London, David Miles, says that the planned tax changes should be scrapped:

“Stamp duty is now being levied at a higher rate on properties bought to be rented. Most properties bought by private buy to let investors will pay an extra 3% in tax. And starting from April 2017 the rate at which interest on mortgages used to acquire buy to let properties can be offset against tax on rental income will be reduced from an investor’s marginal income tax rate down to the basic rate,” says Miles.

He says that it is difficult to understand why the Government would want to deter provision of private rented accommodation from smaller landlords and that the changes will not make it easier for first time buyers as was planned.

Raising rents

Research suggests that landlords would need to raise rents between 20% and 30% to offset the impact of the Government tax rises.

“The effects of the tax changes are clearly large. Generally, rents would need to rise between 20% and 30% to offset them, more often than not rents need to rise by closer to 30%. The impact of the reduced tax deductibility of interest payments, which affects cash flows every year, is substantially larger than the impact of higher stamp duty, which affects cash flows only at purchase and is spread over the length of the landlord’s investment,” Miles explained.

Passing on costs

Separate research also found that around a quarter of buy-to-let landlords in the UK are passing on increased costs to their tenants as a result of the cap on tax relief being phased in from April this year.

Levels of awareness about the implications of the tax relief changes are rising, with 58% of landlords saying that they have increased rent, or plan to in the near future, the company’s latest Private Rented Sector Trends report, based on interviews with more than 200 experienced landlords, found.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has also found that the majority of landlords will be negatively impacted by the tax changes and has called for the Government to use the extra revenue it will receive from its stamp duty levy to halt the implementation of the mortgage interest relief changes.

The impact on Bristol property landlords and tenants could be considerable – we will, of course, monitor this for our landlord clients and tenant customers alike during 2017.

To find out more, simply contact our independent lettings agency on Gloucester Road here.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bristol landlords need to be aware of smoke and fire alarm changes

This week at City Rental Services we’re taking a closer look at recent legislative changes to smoke and fire alarm provision and testing for rented properties in Bristol and all over England to ensure that property landlords are up-to-speed with their legal obligations.

advice for Bristol landlords on fire and smoke alarms from City Rental Services

Since October 2015, it’s been a legal requirement for property landlords to provide the following level of fire and smoke alarm testing:

Smoke alarms, fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms must be tested ON THE DAY that a new Tenancy commences. Not the day or week before or after.

This is a critical consideration for all tenancies commencing in Bristol during this year’s student swap-over.  We have made our best efforts to inform all of our City Rental Services landlords via email over the past few months.

This means, for example, that on 01st July, we’ll be testing more than 50 rented student properties.

We will be sending one of our qualified and approved electricians to each property with a third party to witness his checks.

This form of third-party self-certification is in place when a tenant will not be present on the date the tenancy starts, which is very common with student properties

We will also make photographic evidence of the visit to the property by the electrician.  This will be kept on record should it ever be required at a later date.

Landlords should note that under the recent alarm testing legislation changes, it is the responsibility of the tenant to then test and change any alarm batteries, as and when needed.

The National Landlords Association has provided a useful fire safety tool, which can be utilized here.

If you’re a property landlord in Bristol and are unsure of your level of compliance regarding any alarms in any of your rented properties, feel free to get in touch with us. Our fully-managed lettings team can assist you further.

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