Each week I am co-host of the LBC Property Hour. It’s kindly sponsored by Direct Line Landlord Insurance and the main man running the show is legendary host Clive Bull. Our guest this week was property lawyer, Russell Conway.
And to make sure as many people as possible benefit from the show’s help and advice, here are write-ups of the Q&As and extra links to help you if you are in the same boat:
Q – I currently own and live in a mobile home and want to buy a flat. Where will I stand when it comes to stamp duty on second homes?
A – Good news! Mobile homes are exempt so you won't have to pay the extra 3% stamp duty but I would always advise anyone investing in a property to seek personal tax advice first so you understand the implications of adding another property to your wealth
Need some help? Read our buy to let tax checklist.
...and don't forget to check out my articles on the additional stamp duty:
Q – I have been a landlord for many years now but I am now worried that I'm being overcharged by the letting agent. I usually let for between 6-12 months but am currently letting for two years and received a letting agent demand for an extra 10% fee for the second year, is this right?
A – The first thing to do is to check what is written in your management agreement as there may well be an extra charge or get an legal company to do this for you, it shouldn’t cost very much. Worst case if it does apply, see if you negotiate what you pay.
When choosing an agent always make sure they are members of ARLA, NALS or RICS and have Client Money Protection. This means if you are not happy with the current situation or what the agent is doing, you can complain via the redress scheme, especially as they have to abide by an additional code of conduct.
Need to choose an agent? Do just that with our choosing a letting agent checklist.
Q – Is the Help to Buy ISA only available to first time buyers and is it just for houses?
A – My current understanding is this is just for first time buyers, although you can purchase a property through the Help to Buy Scheme for new builds without being a first time buyer. The schemes are different for Wales, Scotland, N.Ireland and for England, so check these out.
Buying for the first time? Download our first time buyer eBook.
Need info on the Help to Buy ISA? Read - Do You Want A £3,000 Free Gift From The Government?
Q – I bought a property a year ago and spent around £20,000 renovating it, it now looks like there is subsidence as the walls are cracking, should I just sell or contact insurers?
A – There are two things you can do. Firstly you can contact your buildings insurer and they will help and advise you and may even send a surveyor around at their cost. Alternatively you can call a local RICS or RPSA surveyor and they will give their opinion. In many cases it may not be subsidence and even if it is, this is often due to collapsed drains, so it isn’t difficult to fix.
You should not immediately think of selling as you have a duty to tell prospective buyers about the problem if you know about it.
Not certain which type of survey to get? Here's how to choose a surveyor and type of survey.
Having problems with subsidence? We've got the articles to help:
Q – I took out a shorthold tenancy with a household association in 2006, the properties were sold on in 2011 and we were told our contracts would stay the same we'd just have a new landlord. Nothing was re-signed and it went over to a periodic tenancy agreement. The current landlord has recently written to us asking us to take out a valid tenancy and wants to charge us £50 to do so, is this normal?
A – Nobody can make you sign a new tenancy agreement and the idea of charging you £50 isn’t reasonable, so it is worth refusing to sign it and tell the landlord you are holding them to the terms of the previous tenancy. Take legal advice if you need to make sure you are looked after.
For more advice contact Russell's law firm, Oliver Fisher.
Q – What legal documents do landlords need to rent out their property?
A - Christina Dimitrov talks about the importance of Legal Documents
Q – I'm trying to sell my flat, I believe I have 72 to 73 years left on the lease, however my buyer's solicitor think it's in 60s. I have approached the leaseholder to check the length of lease and the cost of extending it and they said it would cost £900 just to check it for me - is this correct?
A – It does seems like a high fee, for something like this I'd contact the Association of Leasehold Enfranchisement Practitioners for advice. When applying to extend a lease your landlord is not allowed to charge you an unreasonable fee in relation to legal costs as the amount is regulated by an act of parliament. Ensure you speak to an expert valuer for the cost of the extending lease.
For more from ALEP, read:
Q – My tenant has given two months notice that they are intending to leave which is fine. The trouble is she wants to use her deposit for the remaining two months rent. I haven't protected the deposit, she's an estate agent, what should I do?
A – The first thing to do is to get the deposit protected and give her the statutory information that you will receive from the scheme. She has no right to use the deposit as rent, it's there for a variety of reasons should something go wrong at the end of the tenancy and you may need to use it for damages for example,