5 major problems you can have with a property
The average price of a house in the UK has reached £254,000 according to the Office for National Statistics.
Buying a property is a massive investment which, very occasionally, can go badly wrong. Here are five situations every home owner will want to avoid.
1. My home was hanging off a cliff
Bryony Nierop-Reading lived in her Norfolk home for years, despite the coastal erosion nearby.
In December 2013 her home hung off a cliff after a tidal surge.
Since then Bryony has been living in a caravan while she considers her options.
Obviously this an unusual problem but should you find yourself in a similar situation:
- If you're having troubles getting an insurer to cover your home, try contacting companies directly or through a broker via the British Insurance Brokers' Association.
- Ask friends or family to help store belongings.
- If you can safely access parts of the home, lock all doors, windows and board up any gaps to make it harder for thieves.
2. A demolition order was put on our holiday homeContinue reading the main story
In 2008 Tony and Shirley Pearson from Kent bought a holiday home in Spain.
They spent around 110,000 euros on the property but ended up in a legal dispute over where it had been built.
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In March 2014 a court ordered their home to be demolished.
Before the couple were evicted they sold the lodge for the value of its materials. They gave their furniture to charity.
- Research and follow local laws before buying and renting out property.
- Check government information on buying property abroad and detailed advice on how to buy property in Spain.
- If you choose to work with an estate agent, developer or lawyer, check they are qualified, reliable and have experience operating in the country. Ask for examples of projects they have completed.
- Check whether owners of properties on similar developments have had any problems.
3. Our home was flooded
Caroline and Jeremy Langfords' home in Moorland, Somerset was flooded in February 2014.
The family were woken up by a fireman in the early hours warning them that flood water was getting into their house.
They moved in with nearby family while their insurer arranged temporary accommodation. They are now working with their insurance company to restore their home.
- The Environment Agency has advice on what to do in a flood.
- Check out the likelihood of flooding with the Environment Agency flood map.
- If your home is at risk consider joining the National Flood Forum, a charity which represents and supports flood risk communities.
- Only rescue items if it's safe and you have time.
4. Our noisy neighbour gave us years of sleepless nights
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Laura Sheridan and the residents of a suburban street in Nottingham were kept awake at night by the noise of clucking, crowing and quacking for around six years.
Her neighbour had birds in a back garden and the local residents found the sound, smell and conditions disturbing.
They tried to speak to the neighbour but it didn't help.
The residents built a legal case by taking pictures and recordings.
In September 2013, the neighbour was banned from keeping animals.
- Try speaking calmly with your neighbour or write a letter explaining the problem. Stick to the facts.
- If your neighbour is a tenant, you could contact their landlord.
- If raising the issue informally doesn't work, you could use a mediation service which acts like a referee in a dispute.
- If the problem involves noise, you can make a complaint to your local council.
- Contact the police if your neighbour is violent or harassing you.
- As a last resort consider legal action through the courts.
5. I was gazumped three times
Rachel Kelly has been trying to buy a property in London for over a year and has been gazumped (when a buyer thinks they have agreed a deal to buy a house only for another buyer to step in and outbid them) on three different properties.
The first time, Rachel had an offer accepted on a property but a different estate agent listed it at £36,000 more. The seller got a higher offer which they accepted.
The second time, Rachel had an offer accepted on a different property, had paid for surveys and was in the process of arranging a mortgage. However, she was told the seller had accepted a cash offer instead and completed the sale within three weeks.
On the third occasion her solicitor said contracts were being sent out to multiple buyers and whoever exchanged first would get the property. Someone else beat her to it.
Gazumping is legal if you live in England, Northern Ireland or Wales. In Scotland once an offer is made on a house and accepted, it is legally binding.
- One way to reduce the risk of gazumping is to have your mortgage approved in principle. This means you're ready to get the paperwork moving as soon as your offer is accepted.
- Check out Citizens Advice if you have any problems buying or selling a home.
- If you are not happy with an estate agent's service, let them know and give them a chance to resolve your complaint.
- If you are still not satisfied, you can contact the Property Ombudsman.