Category Archives: Landlords in Bristol

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.

Top tips on getting the perfect tenant for Bristol rented property

For any rented property landlord in Bristol looking to bring a tenant on board, there’s no doubt a temptation to get everything signed, sealed and delivered in terms of getting them moved in and settled.

It’s the quickest way to start bringing in rent and making a solid return.

tips on finding the best rented property tenants in Bristol from City Rental Services

However, if the process of onboarding a new tenant is not done right when a new tenant is coming in, it can cause a number of problems down the line in terms of unpaid rent, broken rules, and other issues that can take months to reverse.

For this reason, it always makes sense to ensure that the correct checks are carried out before you allow someone to rent your property, such as:

Employment check

While someone may have a good credit history, it doesn’t always mean that they have the means to keep up with regular rental payments.

It makes good sense to always check that someone has an income that will mean they don’t simply neglect to pay.

Asking for a confirmation letter from an employer and some recent pay slips can go a long way to proving that they have the income to be able to afford their rent.

City Rental Services pays extra attention to the picture that a Bank Statement can paint, as it offers an excellent detailed lifestyle picture.

References

Another thing that is always worth checking when you have a new tenant coming to live in your properties is whether they have a good history as a tenant. If they have rented before, then they will probably have dealt with a letting agent to do so, and that agent can vouch for them on a number of points.

If they paid their rent on time, always kept the place looking as it should and left without any real problems, then the letting agent should be able to give you a positive reference that lets you know you are getting a good tenant moving into your property.

Interview

It may seem a little corporate, but after you’ve checked everything else and it all looks good to go, why not just have a little informal chat with the tenant themselves to ask any questions.

Look for things like what they are hoping to get out of that property in particular, why they are choosing to live in the area, their rental past, and any other relevant factors.

It can help you paint a good picture of whether they will be a good fit for your property and a good tenant moving forward.

Guarantor

Here at City Rental Services if a perspective tenant has not been in their current employment for at least a year, we request that a Guarantor is put in place.  We also often speak with the Guarantor, to ensure that they are aware of their responsibility.

There are many ways to assess a perspective new tenant but we find the above to be the most simple and informative.

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.

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.

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.

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.