THE Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.
Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Jane Hamilton, property expert
Get the best deal for home buyers and sellers
ONE in nine homes on the market is selling for MORE than the asking price, fresh figures from estate agent body NAEA Propertymark reveal.
The bidding frenzy, driven by the stamp duty holiday and people changing their homes and lifestyles following lockdown, has soared to the highest level since 2016.
So how can you negotiate in such a hot market? We reveal what to do as both a buyer and a seller.
SELLER: HOW TO GET OVER ASKING PRICE
- Set a realistic price – or even price marginally below the market level – to create lots of interest.
- Hold a launch day. Stage your home and ask your agent to invite all interested buyers on the same day. Seeing others who are keen on the same property could prompt a flurry of offers.
- Go to sealed bids. Best and final bids are a way of flushing out who is really interested. But get your agent to only take offers from buyers who can proceed and with finance in place.
BUYER: HOW TO SECURE PROPERTY
- Be straight with the seller. If you want it, offer a fair price. Don’t haggle over small issues and risk losing their goodwill.
- Ask if the vendor will take it off the market, to prevent anyone else viewing the home. You may need to pay a little more, but it shows you are serious.
- Stay in touch through the conveyancing process to reassure the sellers.
BUY OF THE WEEK
THIS Easter weekend, why not treat yourself to the perfect chocolate-box cottage?
This cracking Grade II-listed, thatched two-bedroom home near Barnstaple, Devon, has character and charm to spare.
It can be yours for £230,000. For details, see the property here.
DEAL OF THE WEEK
SHOW your walls some love. Get 30 per cent off all Desenio prints until April 6, including the best-selling Artful Lines No2, pictured.
Was £12.95, now £9.07 at desenio.co.uk.
THE price of a garden shed could rise by as much as 50 per cent due to a global shortage of timber.
Shed manufacturer Kybotech has warned that warmer Scandinavian winters have hit wood supplies, while the pandemic continues to disrupt supply lines.
Its founder, Charles Walton said: “We’re now in the second year of timber shortages and the impact is beginning to be felt.”
Judge Rinder, legal expert
Ex-husband told me in a 2017 email that I could keep all equity in our house . . . now prices have soared he wants half
Q) MY ex-partner emailed me in 2017 stating I could have any equity from our joint matrimonial house. He had moved out in 2008 and I currently live in the house with our children (by him) and my new husband.
In the email, my ex wrote that I could have the equity to pay off a legal aid bill and to use for a deposit on a new house for me and our boys. I was married to my new husband who was living with us at the time and still is.
My ex knew I wanted a solicitor’s binding letter but said I didn’t need it because he stands by his word. My husband and I have spent time and money upgrading the house and now want to sell.
But because the house is worth more than it was three years ago, my ex now wants half the equity and won’t agree to sell the property until I agree.
Was his email a contract between us?
A) I’m sorry to start my answer like this but it’s important that readers learn from other people’s mistakes.
Your initial instinct that you should obtain legal advice and a formal binding agreement at the time your ex-husband sent his email offering you full equity was entirely correct.
Any lawyer would have advised you to specify precisely the amount your ex-husband would be entitled to in the event that your home appreciated in value. As it currently stands, you’re in a bit of a legal mess.
While the email may not be a binding contract, you would have a strong case in court that you are entitled to the full equity as it was a promise made by your ex which you have subsequently relied on. And the plain meaning of his message to you was that you would be entitled to “any equity” in your home, so the fact it has gone up in value is irrelevant.
This problem is unlikely to be resolved by a straightforward letter. While it’s always wise to avoid conflict with your children’s father, this is a case where legal advice and solicitor’s correspondence is essential. There are plenty of decent lawyers out there who can handle this and it shouldn’t cost you a fortune.
I AM having problems with a fox in my garden. My neighbour refuses to let me put spikes a few inches tall on our shared fence to stop it getting in.
Has she that right to stop me?
She has every right to stop you. It is unlawful to put spikes or any sharp objects on a boundary fence. Not only could she sue you if you did, she could report you to the local council who could take legal action against you.
There are a range of perfectly effective products you can put on fences that deter foxes.
Go and purchase one and, for heaven’s sake, get your neighbour’s consent before doing anything.
Q) I WAS left my late father’s house 18 months ago. This was subsequently let. The tenants owe four months’ rent and are ruining the house. To add insult to injury they have registered the house as a limited company without my permission. They are storing vast amounts of computer equipment in the garage and utility room and the rooms are full of junk.
They were served a Section 21 notice in August 2020 and a Section 8 notice in January, but due to Government rulings they cannot be evicted until the end of May.
They have been told to stop this behaviour but have ignored the letting agent. Is there anything I can do to stop this behaviour and abuse of my property? We have served an accelerated eviction notice to the court but this may take months.
A) I wish there was more I could do to help you. You have done all you can.
One additional option is that, as these tenants appear to be using the property for commercial purposes in breach of the lease, you could consider obtaining an injunction to make them stop storing their equipment and force them to remove their goods.
You would need to ask your lawyers to assist you with this but this approach is likely to be expensive and will take you no further.
The good news is that, by the sound of it, these tenants have almost no chance of defending your application for eviction so – at least – you’ll get your home back.
Mel Hunter, reader’s champion
TAKEN FOR A RIDE OVER BIKE SALE
I PLACED an order in June 2020 with Evans Cycles for a Specialized bike, using a Cyclescheme voucher from my work.
In August I was told that the bike would be delayed to October due to stock issues. Given the pandemic, I was fine to wait.
When I chased the order in November 2020 I received no reply. When I chased again in December, I was told the order had been cancelled by Evans Cycles due to lack of stock.
This was the first I’d heard of it, and no one had offered me my money back. Since then, numerous emails have gone back and forth.
I’m now told that the bike is back in stock, but the price has gone from £580 to £650 and that if I wish to re-order, I have to pay that extra £70.
Craig Jones, Darlington, Co Durham
A) This was out of order on so many levels. In my book, if the bike was now in stock, nine long months after you’d ordered it, you should have received it without delay, paying no more than the original price, and with a chunky discount to make up for the appalling customer service you’d experienced.
I got on the case for you but, unfortunately, by then your chosen bike was out of stock again.
Evans said it would work with you to find a replacement but, as you’d already received a Specialized helmet and pump which you’d ordered at the same time, you wanted a Specialized bike to match. Finally, the retailer agreed to let you upgrade to a better bike from the same brand.
Evans told me: “We are extremely sorry that Craig’s experience has fallen short of Evans Cycles’ usual high standards.
“The team have worked extremely hard to navigate unprecedented levels of demand, alongside a range of supply issues, but are pleased that almost all of these issues have been resolved.”
RYANAIR REFUND WITH NO ETA
Q) OUR Ryanair return flight from Malaga to Birmingham on March 31 last year was cancelled due to Covid. Ryanair offered free rebooking but the link didn’t work as the airline hadn’t unchecked us from the cancelled flight.
We booked another flight with the same airline to get home. This cost 729 euros, but I wasn’t worried as Ryanair had said we could rebook for free.
I filled the necessary forms in for a refund but to no avail.
Chris Haseley, Pershore, Worcs
A) Queries on Ryanair refunds still keep coming, even though boss Michael O’Leary said months ago customers who booked directly had got their money back – and repeated the claim on Good Morning Britain earlier this week.
Soon after I contacted the airline for you, months ago, they came back to you to check your bank details.
A month later you got £154 back for the cancelled flight, but still nothing for the extra plane home.
I had to chase for three months before the full refund arrived in your account. Ryanair said they regretted it had taken so long.
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