5 major problems you can have with a property

Abandoned house and stormy weather

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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

Bungalow at edge of cliff

Bryony Nierop-Reading lived in her Norfolk home for years, despite the coastal erosion nearby.

Bryony Nierop-Reading stands on the cliff edge next to her Happisburgh home Bryony Nierop-Reading stands outside her home

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 home

wooden holiday home Tony and Shirley Pearson purchased their Spanish holiday home in 2008
Tony and Shirley Pearson Tony and Shirley Pearson celebrate buying a holiday home
house in pieces By 2014 the couple's home was sold off for the value of the materials

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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Nightime home

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

Langford family

Caroline and Jeremy Langfords' home in Moorland, Somerset was flooded in February 2014.

Mould in a room Everything in the house became mouldy.

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.

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.

Laura Sheridan

The residents built a legal case by taking pictures and recordings.

In September 2013, the neighbour was banned from keeping animals.

5. I was gazumped three times

Sold sign

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.

Rachel Kelly Rachel Kelly was 'gazumped' three times

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.

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