<strong>Kate Macintosh</strong>, <strong>John Worrall</strong>, <strong>Frances Holliss</strong>, <strong>Robin Howell</strong> and <strong>Eileen Peck</strong> on a report calling for 3 million new social homes to be built in the next 20 years<p>The Shelter housing commission’s report (<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/08/england-needs-3m-new-social-homes-by-2040-says-cross-party-report" title="">Cross-party call to build 3m new social homes</a>, 8 January) stands in danger of simply racking up change-of-use inflation in land prices, putting the unearned value uplift of as much as 70% into the pockets of speculators. Unless the basic structure of housing provision in the UK is changed to restore to local authorities powers of compulsory purchase, with taxation on the land-value enhancement, this will be the unintended consequence.</p><p>The result of right-to-buy has been the sell-off of 60,000 council homes with a £3.5bn public subsidy, and 40% of that stock finding its way into the hands of private landlords, who rent it back, often to the same local authority at hugely inflated rates. A straight transfer of public wealth into private hands.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/11/new-homes-alone-wont-solve-the-housing-crisis">Continue reading...</a>

New homes alone won’t solve the housing crisis | Letters

Jan 11, 2019 16:51

Kate Macintosh, John Worrall, Frances Holliss, Robin Howell and Eileen Peck on a report calling for 3 million new social homes to be built in the next 20 years

The Shelter housing commission’s report (Cross-party call to build 3m new social homes, 8 January) stands in danger of simply racking up change-of-use inflation in land prices, putting the unearned value uplift of as much as 70% into the pockets of speculators. Unless the basic structure of housing provision in the UK is changed to restore to local authorities powers of compulsory purchase, with taxation on the land-value enhancement, this will be the unintended consequence.

The result of right-to-buy has been the sell-off of 60,000 council homes with a £3.5bn public subsidy, and 40% of that stock finding its way into the hands of private landlords, who rent it back, often to the same local authority at hugely inflated rates. A straight transfer of public wealth into private hands.

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<p>If it wasn’t in the remoter end of the Fens, it would be overrun with tourists</p><p><strong>What’s going for it?</strong> Amazing, the effect of geography. Were King’s Lynn anywhere else in the country but squelched into the remoter end of the Fens, it would be overrun with tourists. They’d be there getting selfies next to some 18th-century townhouses or cutie-pie half-timbered cottages they’d seen in the latest Sunday night costume drama. Bistros and artisan coffee houses would be flush. Various branches of Edinburgh Woollen Mills would have opened. But it is not. It <em>is</em> squelched into the remoter end of the Fens. The wealth of the north Norfolk coast is tantalisingly near, but not quite near enough. That relative remoteness today (I mean, it’s only just over an hour to Cambridge, so it’s hardly Siberia, is it?) has bred an independent spirit: there’s some great local culture behind those pedimented porticoes, and a fair bit of money has been spent on sprucing up the place. Geography favoured King’s Lynn hundreds of years ago, before trade shifted to the Atlantic. That’s why it’s so beautiful today, all cobbles, alleys and warehouses. King’s Lynn was once the biggest port in the country, and its merchants flashed their cash on those 18th-century townhouses. Maybe fortune will smile on it again some day.</p><p><strong>The case against</strong> The poor place has been scandalously knocked about in decades past, to make room for car parks and dual carriageways, meaning that today it’s a slightly surreal mishmash of 18th-century alleys and retail parks.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/11/lets-move-to-kings-lynn-norfolk-it-is-beautiful">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to King’s Lynn, Norfolk: it’s beautiful – all cobbles, alleys and warehouses

Jan 11, 2019 16:29

If it wasn’t in the remoter end of the Fens, it would be overrun with tourists

What’s going for it? Amazing, the effect of geography. Were King’s Lynn anywhere else in the country but squelched into the remoter end of the Fens, it would be overrun with tourists. They’d be there getting selfies next to some 18th-century townhouses or cutie-pie half-timbered cottages they’d seen in the latest Sunday night costume drama. Bistros and artisan coffee houses would be flush. Various branches of Edinburgh Woollen Mills would have opened. But it is not. It is squelched into the remoter end of the Fens. The wealth of the north Norfolk coast is tantalisingly near, but not quite near enough. That relative remoteness today (I mean, it’s only just over an hour to Cambridge, so it’s hardly Siberia, is it?) has bred an independent spirit: there’s some great local culture behind those pedimented porticoes, and a fair bit of money has been spent on sprucing up the place. Geography favoured King’s Lynn hundreds of years ago, before trade shifted to the Atlantic. That’s why it’s so beautiful today, all cobbles, alleys and warehouses. King’s Lynn was once the biggest port in the country, and its merchants flashed their cash on those 18th-century townhouses. Maybe fortune will smile on it again some day.

The case against The poor place has been scandalously knocked about in decades past, to make room for car parks and dual carriageways, meaning that today it’s a slightly surreal mishmash of 18th-century alleys and retail parks.

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<p>Winner received £110,000 after Mark and Sharon Beresford failed to sell enough tickets</p><p>Contestants who entered a raffle to win a £3m luxury home in Hampshire have been left disappointed after the prize was cut to £110,000 when the couple running it said they had failed to sell enough tickets.</p><p>Mark and Sharon Beresford decided to sell their home using a raffle last year aiming to sell 250,000 £25 tickets. Last week, however, they revealed they had only sold 30,000 tickets, raising £750,000.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/11/couple-accused-of-misleading-entrants-in-raffle-for-3m-house">Continue reading...</a>

Couple accused of misleading entrants in raffle for £3m house

Jan 11, 2019 16:09

Winner received £110,000 after Mark and Sharon Beresford failed to sell enough tickets

Contestants who entered a raffle to win a £3m luxury home in Hampshire have been left disappointed after the prize was cut to £110,000 when the couple running it said they had failed to sell enough tickets.

Mark and Sharon Beresford decided to sell their home using a raffle last year aiming to sell 250,000 £25 tickets. Last week, however, they revealed they had only sold 30,000 tickets, raising £750,000.

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After a nine-month wait for a handover date, I couldn’t get our money back<p><strong>I paid a £500 deposit on a new-build flat using the help-to-buy scheme. The development was supposed to be completed three months later, but</strong><strong> nine months on there was still no handover date, so I </strong><strong>withdrew</strong><strong>. But the agent, Claremont Property Group, says the deposit is non-refundable. </strong></p><p><strong><em>DE, Swindon</em></strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/11/help-to-buy-new-build-delay-completion-deposit">Continue reading...</a>

Why can’t I get a refund on my £500 deposit for a help-to-buy home?

Jan 11, 2019 7:00

After a nine-month wait for a handover date, I couldn’t get our money back

I paid a £500 deposit on a new-build flat using the help-to-buy scheme. The development was supposed to be completed three months later, but nine months on there was still no handover date, so I withdrew. But the agent, Claremont Property Group, says the deposit is non-refundable.

DE, Swindon

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<p>Go back to the land on these five rural properties, from Devon to North Yorkshire </p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2019/jan/11/farms-and-smallholdings-for-sale-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Farms and smallholdings for sale – in pictures

Jan 11, 2019 0:00

Go back to the land on these five rural properties, from Devon to North Yorkshire

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<p>Loans lasting up to 40 years can leave buyers unable to save for pension, say regulators</p><p>First-time buyers are taking out jumbo loans on longer terms that will leave four in 10 borrowers paying off their mortgage well into retirement, regulators have warned.</p><p>The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that 40% of borrowers who took out a mortgage in 2017 will be aged over 65 when their mortgage matures – leaving them unable to save for a pension, and vulnerable to any financial shocks.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/10/four-in-10-uk-first-time-buyers-will-retire-with-mortgages-fca-warns">Continue reading...</a>

Four in 10 UK first-time buyers will retire with mortgages, FCA warns

Jan 10, 2019 17:47

Loans lasting up to 40 years can leave buyers unable to save for pension, say regulators

First-time buyers are taking out jumbo loans on longer terms that will leave four in 10 borrowers paying off their mortgage well into retirement, regulators have warned.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that 40% of borrowers who took out a mortgage in 2017 will be aged over 65 when their mortgage matures – leaving them unable to save for a pension, and vulnerable to any financial shocks.

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<p>Once one of the most significant towns in the country, these days it’s left mostly for the townsfolk</p><p><strong>What’s going for it? </strong>So dominated are the Midlands by the great sprawl of Birmingham, you can easily forget what they were like before the industrial revolution. Places such as Warwick were once the metaphorical, as well as the literal heart of the country – as English as oak trees, John Bull and roast beef. Middle England. Middle Earth. Tolkien got married here. Shakespeare would namecheck the town as some kind of epitome of the English spirit. Today, people come with seven-year-olds in plastic chainmail and swords for the humungous castle, equal parts astonishing relic and ye olde theme parke; but the town behind, once one of the most significant in the country, is these days mostly left for the townsfolk. Lucky them. It’s beautiful, high on its bluff above the Avon and scattered with everything you’d expect in an ancient town, as English as, well, you get the picture. Georgian townhouses, Queen Anne mansions, tottering half-timbered Tudor and tea shops with a nice line in toasted teacakes. It’s somehow both utterly ordinary and utterly exceptional at the same time.</p><p><strong>The case against… </strong>Yes, it’s a tad provincial. But what lies on your doorstep – from the theatre at Stratford, the universities in Coventry and the bright lights of Brum – more than makes up for it.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/04/warwick-warwickshire-property-lets-move-to-tom-dyckhoff">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Warwick: as English as roast beef

Jan 4, 2019 16:30

Once one of the most significant towns in the country, these days it’s left mostly for the townsfolk

What’s going for it? So dominated are the Midlands by the great sprawl of Birmingham, you can easily forget what they were like before the industrial revolution. Places such as Warwick were once the metaphorical, as well as the literal heart of the country – as English as oak trees, John Bull and roast beef. Middle England. Middle Earth. Tolkien got married here. Shakespeare would namecheck the town as some kind of epitome of the English spirit. Today, people come with seven-year-olds in plastic chainmail and swords for the humungous castle, equal parts astonishing relic and ye olde theme parke; but the town behind, once one of the most significant in the country, is these days mostly left for the townsfolk. Lucky them. It’s beautiful, high on its bluff above the Avon and scattered with everything you’d expect in an ancient town, as English as, well, you get the picture. Georgian townhouses, Queen Anne mansions, tottering half-timbered Tudor and tea shops with a nice line in toasted teacakes. It’s somehow both utterly ordinary and utterly exceptional at the same time.

The case against… Yes, it’s a tad provincial. But what lies on your doorstep – from the theatre at Stratford, the universities in Coventry and the bright lights of Brum – more than makes up for it.

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<p>Seemingly a sedate affair with prim Victorian hotels, the town has a racy cultural life</p><p><strong>What’s going for it?</strong> I learned to drive on the Malvern Hills, which is probably why I failed my test. Twice. It’s not a spot for a novice. Hairpin bends. Narrow, winding lanes charged down by local Mr Toads in their Morgans (the car factory is nearby). And you want hill starts? You got ’em: 45 degrees steep (OK, not quite). They – well, I – call them the Midlands Alps, rising without warning a thousand feet up from the Severn Valley.</p><p>Elgar, with his thighs of steel, famously walked the rollercoaster slopes of these old volcanoes for inspiration. The reason is obvious. The countryside is perhaps the most stirring in England, all pagan hill forts, ancient oaks and medieval priories. Great Malvern, seemingly a sedate affair of bargeboards, doilies and prim, Victorian hotels, but with a rather racy cultural life (the theatre’s amazing) and a nice line in decent coffee. I adore the place. Which is probably why I failed my test. Too much gawping. Keep your eyes on the road!</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/dec/28/lets-move-to-great-malvern-and-the-malvern-hills-walk-in-elgars-footsteps">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Great Malvern and the Malvern hills: walk in Elgar’s footsteps

Dec 28, 2018 16:30

Seemingly a sedate affair with prim Victorian hotels, the town has a racy cultural life

What’s going for it? I learned to drive on the Malvern Hills, which is probably why I failed my test. Twice. It’s not a spot for a novice. Hairpin bends. Narrow, winding lanes charged down by local Mr Toads in their Morgans (the car factory is nearby). And you want hill starts? You got ’em: 45 degrees steep (OK, not quite). They – well, I – call them the Midlands Alps, rising without warning a thousand feet up from the Severn Valley.

Elgar, with his thighs of steel, famously walked the rollercoaster slopes of these old volcanoes for inspiration. The reason is obvious. The countryside is perhaps the most stirring in England, all pagan hill forts, ancient oaks and medieval priories. Great Malvern, seemingly a sedate affair of bargeboards, doilies and prim, Victorian hotels, but with a rather racy cultural life (the theatre’s amazing) and a nice line in decent coffee. I adore the place. Which is probably why I failed my test. Too much gawping. Keep your eyes on the road!

Continue reading...

<p>Several eras have left an imprint on this south-coast seaside resort, right up to today’s star architects</p><p><strong>What’s going for it</strong><strong>?</strong> What will future historians make of Littlehampton? It’s a curious place, stitched together from various patches that align but somehow don’t connect. At its centre, an old Sussex port on the River Arun, church, quayside, winding lanes and still intact. To the south, facing the sea, a 19th-century resort from the era when salt water and bracing breezes were the cure for all ills. To the west, the dunes and silence of Atherington beach. East? 1920s and 1930s private estates of luxury villas, high walls and climbing roses, as if the upper crust cast of various Agatha Christie whodunnits had settled en masse. Laid over the top, a layer of 1930s to 1960s municipal seasideness – seawalls, proms, concrete, the marvellous bleached-white shelters of Mewsbrook Park, the miniature railway terminus. Here and there, arrivals from the era of regeneration and seaside gentrification (Littlehampton has never quite become the new Margate), designed by assorted young and star architects. It makes for bizarre juxtapositions, surreal even. Littlehampton is a curious place. But all the better for it.</p><p><strong>The case against…</strong> That English south-coast bleakness, the sea often “indistinguishable from the sky”, as Virginia Woolf once put it. Still old-fashioned, in good and bad senses.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/dec/14/lets-move-to-littlehampton-west-sussex-a-surreal-mishmash">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Littlehampton, West Sussex: ‘A surreal mishmash’

Dec 14, 2018 16:30

Several eras have left an imprint on this south-coast seaside resort, right up to today’s star architects

What’s going for it? What will future historians make of Littlehampton? It’s a curious place, stitched together from various patches that align but somehow don’t connect. At its centre, an old Sussex port on the River Arun, church, quayside, winding lanes and still intact. To the south, facing the sea, a 19th-century resort from the era when salt water and bracing breezes were the cure for all ills. To the west, the dunes and silence of Atherington beach. East? 1920s and 1930s private estates of luxury villas, high walls and climbing roses, as if the upper crust cast of various Agatha Christie whodunnits had settled en masse. Laid over the top, a layer of 1930s to 1960s municipal seasideness – seawalls, proms, concrete, the marvellous bleached-white shelters of Mewsbrook Park, the miniature railway terminus. Here and there, arrivals from the era of regeneration and seaside gentrification (Littlehampton has never quite become the new Margate), designed by assorted young and star architects. It makes for bizarre juxtapositions, surreal even. Littlehampton is a curious place. But all the better for it.

The case against… That English south-coast bleakness, the sea often “indistinguishable from the sky”, as Virginia Woolf once put it. Still old-fashioned, in good and bad senses.

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<p>If you want a marina of yachts or kiss-me-quick seaside, this is the place for you</p><p><strong>What’s going for it?</strong> Bangor is quite the surprise. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I think it involved grey pebbledash. The town is full of cheer. Victorian townhouses painted the colour of sweeties. Freshly paved streets with perky new trees, as if civic dignitaries were expecting the Queen on Tuesday. Being a seaside town in the British Isles, it has that inevitable double edge of joy and sorrow, but here joy gets the upper hand. Partly that’s down to wealth. This area has long been nicknamed the Gold Coast, pulling in Belfast’s rich for more than a century. While we’re not quite talking Malibu rich, the town has its share of hefty piles and la-di-da. You’ll have to travel a few minutes out of town for decent beaches. Bangor’s petite bay cuddles a marina of yachts straight out of <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0134250/" title="">Howard</a><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0134250/" title="">s’ Way</a> (extremely woke contemporary cultural reference there). Much of the town, though, is more your bucket-and-spade-kiss-me-quick seaside, and all the better for it. <a href="https://pickiefunpark.com/pickie-puffer/" title="">Pickie Puffer</a>, the miniature steam train that chuffs through <a href="https://pickiefunpark.com/" title="">Pickie</a><a href="https://pickiefunpark.com/" title=""> Fun Park</a>, is a particular high spot. Who says I don’t know how to have fun?</p><p><strong>The case against </strong>Quite pricey, by local standards.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/dec/07/lets-move-to-bangor-county-down">Continue reading...</a>

Let’s move to Bangor, County Down: cheery charm and Belfast’s smart set

Dec 7, 2018 16:30

If you want a marina of yachts or kiss-me-quick seaside, this is the place for you

What’s going for it? Bangor is quite the surprise. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I think it involved grey pebbledash. The town is full of cheer. Victorian townhouses painted the colour of sweeties. Freshly paved streets with perky new trees, as if civic dignitaries were expecting the Queen on Tuesday. Being a seaside town in the British Isles, it has that inevitable double edge of joy and sorrow, but here joy gets the upper hand. Partly that’s down to wealth. This area has long been nicknamed the Gold Coast, pulling in Belfast’s rich for more than a century. While we’re not quite talking Malibu rich, the town has its share of hefty piles and la-di-da. You’ll have to travel a few minutes out of town for decent beaches. Bangor’s petite bay cuddles a marina of yachts straight out of Howards’ Way (extremely woke contemporary cultural reference there). Much of the town, though, is more your bucket-and-spade-kiss-me-quick seaside, and all the better for it. Pickie Puffer, the miniature steam train that chuffs through Pickie Fun Park, is a particular high spot. Who says I don’t know how to have fun?

The case against Quite pricey, by local standards.

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<p>My daughter may pull out of a property purchase – will she have to pay her solicitor for work done so far? </p><p><strong>Q</strong> My daughter is in the process of buying a house, but has not yet exchanged contracts. However, she is thinking of pulling out of the purchase because the surveyor’s report says the property will need a lot of repairs as well as the removal and disposal of asbestos found in the structure of the garage walls. If she does pull out, will she have to pay her solicitor for the work done so far? This is the quote that my daughter received from her solicitor back in October:</p><p>Fee in relation to your £330,000 leasehold purchase would be a fixed fee of £1,160 plus VAT plus £75 plus VAT for completion of the Stamp Duty Land Tax Return and a fee of £25 plus VAT per bank transfer that we make. The anticipated costs associated with your purchase would be;</p><p>• £30 plus VAT for electronic conveyancing;</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/10/do-legal-fees-apply-if-a-house-sale-falls-through">Continue reading...</a>

Do legal fees apply if a house sale falls through?

Jan 10, 2019 7:00

My daughter may pull out of a property purchase – will she have to pay her solicitor for work done so far?

Q My daughter is in the process of buying a house, but has not yet exchanged contracts. However, she is thinking of pulling out of the purchase because the surveyor’s report says the property will need a lot of repairs as well as the removal and disposal of asbestos found in the structure of the garage walls. If she does pull out, will she have to pay her solicitor for the work done so far? This is the quote that my daughter received from her solicitor back in October:

Fee in relation to your £330,000 leasehold purchase would be a fixed fee of £1,160 plus VAT plus £75 plus VAT for completion of the Stamp Duty Land Tax Return and a fee of £25 plus VAT per bank transfer that we make. The anticipated costs associated with your purchase would be;

• £30 plus VAT for electronic conveyancing;

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<p>I’m worried I’ll lose my bonuses in a help-to-buy Isa and/or relief from stamp duty land tax </p><p><strong>Q</strong> My partner and I are looking to buy our first home in London together so have both been saving in help-to-buy Isa accounts. However, I am soon inheriting a share of a property in Finland. I understand that this apparently ruins my chances of benefiting from any first-time buyer advantages here in UK as I am not allowed to own or have owned any other property beforehand, even overseas.</p><p>After a lot of research, I still haven’t quite managed to find a confirming answer if it makes any difference what the value or owned percentage of the property to be inherited is. In some cases I have understood that the higher stamp duty charges can be negotiated, but I haven’t quite found any guarantees about this either. In my case I will be inheriting 50% of a property where my share is worth less than £25,000 – I suppose no matter how low in value or how small percentage I’d own, it wouldn’t make a difference? I am mainly asking, as of course for the papers we can put down just 49% as my share, should this make a difference as it has a massive difference in the cost of buying my first home here in UK.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/dec/17/do-i-count-as-a-first-time-buyer-if-i-inherit-a-share-of-a-home-abroad">Continue reading...</a>

Do I count as a first-time buyer if I inherit a share of a home abroad?

Dec 17, 2018 7:00

I’m worried I’ll lose my bonuses in a help-to-buy Isa and/or relief from stamp duty land tax

Q My partner and I are looking to buy our first home in London together so have both been saving in help-to-buy Isa accounts. However, I am soon inheriting a share of a property in Finland. I understand that this apparently ruins my chances of benefiting from any first-time buyer advantages here in UK as I am not allowed to own or have owned any other property beforehand, even overseas.

After a lot of research, I still haven’t quite managed to find a confirming answer if it makes any difference what the value or owned percentage of the property to be inherited is. In some cases I have understood that the higher stamp duty charges can be negotiated, but I haven’t quite found any guarantees about this either. In my case I will be inheriting 50% of a property where my share is worth less than £25,000 – I suppose no matter how low in value or how small percentage I’d own, it wouldn’t make a difference? I am mainly asking, as of course for the papers we can put down just 49% as my share, should this make a difference as it has a massive difference in the cost of buying my first home here in UK.

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<p>I’m not comfortable having photos of my home and possessions on the internet</p><p><strong>Q</strong> I currently live in a rented flat but I am buying a house. I have given notice to my letting agent and my tenancy is due to end in a month. The letting agent wants to come to my flat and take photos of it so they can put these photos on the internet and market the property. I am not comfortable with photos of my home and possessions being published on the internet. Can I refuse their request?</p><p>I moved into the flat two-and-a-half years ago and the flat was marketed by the same letting agent. I suggested that they use the photos of the flat that were taken before, as it has not changed since then. However, they said they cannot find these photos.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/dec/10/can-i-refuse-to-allow-a-letting-agent-to-take-photos-of-my-flat">Continue reading...</a>

Can I refuse to allow a letting agent to take photos of my flat?

Dec 10, 2018 7:00

I’m not comfortable having photos of my home and possessions on the internet

Q I currently live in a rented flat but I am buying a house. I have given notice to my letting agent and my tenancy is due to end in a month. The letting agent wants to come to my flat and take photos of it so they can put these photos on the internet and market the property. I am not comfortable with photos of my home and possessions being published on the internet. Can I refuse their request?

I moved into the flat two-and-a-half years ago and the flat was marketed by the same letting agent. I suggested that they use the photos of the flat that were taken before, as it has not changed since then. However, they said they cannot find these photos.

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<p>He also said the government’s help-to-buy scheme was only for younger people</p><p><strong>Q</strong> I would like to know if I am eligible for the help-to-buy scheme. I am currently 54 but will be 55 in January 2019 and rent a room for £670 per month. One of my brothers has told me that I would never get a mortgage at my age and also that help-to-buy is only aimed at young first-time buyers. My other brothers say that I am already paying a mortgage by renting. <strong>JH</strong></p><p><strong>A</strong> Your brothers are talking rubbish. Your age is not a barrier to getting help from the help-to-buy scheme which is not aimed only at young first-time buyers. Nor will your age necessarily stand in the way of your getting a mortgage. Since July 2016, for example, at Nationwide building society the maximum age you can be at the end of any mortgage term has been 85 while at Halifax it is 80. And as for already paying a mortgage by renting, the rent you pay might well be paying someone else’s mortgage but it is certainly not yours.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/nov/26/at-55-my-brother-said-i-was-too-old-to-get-a-mortgage">Continue reading...</a>

At 55, my brother said I was too old to get a mortgage

Nov 26, 2018 7:00

He also said the government’s help-to-buy scheme was only for younger people

Q I would like to know if I am eligible for the help-to-buy scheme. I am currently 54 but will be 55 in January 2019 and rent a room for £670 per month. One of my brothers has told me that I would never get a mortgage at my age and also that help-to-buy is only aimed at young first-time buyers. My other brothers say that I am already paying a mortgage by renting. JH

A Your brothers are talking rubbish. Your age is not a barrier to getting help from the help-to-buy scheme which is not aimed only at young first-time buyers. Nor will your age necessarily stand in the way of your getting a mortgage. Since July 2016, for example, at Nationwide building society the maximum age you can be at the end of any mortgage term has been 85 while at Halifax it is 80. And as for already paying a mortgage by renting, the rent you pay might well be paying someone else’s mortgage but it is certainly not yours.

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<p>I have an interest-only mortgage and I’m a bit concerned in case the rate goes up</p><p><strong>Q</strong> My current fixed-rate mortgage deal ends about 18 months before my mortgage comes to an end in 2022. It’s an interest-only mortgage so the last £40,000 should be paid off by my endowment (it was meant to pay off £65,000 but underperformed so this is their latest prediction, and I am too late to make any claim about that). My bank has told me I can’t take out another deal and will have to go on its standard variable rate for the last 18 months of the mortgage. I am a bit concerned in case the rate goes up and I get stung. It seems very unfair. Not only have I had to pay off an extra £25,000 because of the poor investment vehicle but I now might have to pay more interest.</p><p>Is there any course of action I can take to improve this situation? Should I remortgage again at some point so I can fix until the end of the term?<br><strong>AB</strong></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/nov/19/remortgage-loan-interest-only-mortgage-rate">Continue reading...</a>

Should I remortgage for the final 18 months of my loan?

Nov 19, 2018 7:00

I have an interest-only mortgage and I’m a bit concerned in case the rate goes up

Q My current fixed-rate mortgage deal ends about 18 months before my mortgage comes to an end in 2022. It’s an interest-only mortgage so the last £40,000 should be paid off by my endowment (it was meant to pay off £65,000 but underperformed so this is their latest prediction, and I am too late to make any claim about that). My bank has told me I can’t take out another deal and will have to go on its standard variable rate for the last 18 months of the mortgage. I am a bit concerned in case the rate goes up and I get stung. It seems very unfair. Not only have I had to pay off an extra £25,000 because of the poor investment vehicle but I now might have to pay more interest.

Is there any course of action I can take to improve this situation? Should I remortgage again at some point so I can fix until the end of the term?
AB

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You can navigate your way through what can be a long and complex process by following these steps<p>Buying a home can be a long and complex process, but typically it involves going through these steps:</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/24/factsheet-buying-home-property">Continue reading...</a>

Factsheet: Buying a home

Nov 24, 2014 14:10

You can navigate your way through what can be a long and complex process by following these steps

Buying a home can be a long and complex process, but typically it involves going through these steps:

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'How to' guides for a wide variety of personal finance issues including: claiming benefits, taking out a loan, interest rates, buying a house, insurance, pensions, savings and tax<p><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/money/2007/oct/25/state.pensions">State pensions</a><br><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/money/2008/sep/11/taxcredits.familyfinance">Tax credits</a></p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/nov/20/money-factsheets-benefits-loans-interest-rates-buying-house-insurance-pensions-savings">Continue reading...</a>

Money factsheets: How to organise your finances

Nov 20, 2013 12:35

'How to' guides for a wide variety of personal finance issues including: claiming benefits, taking out a loan, interest rates, buying a house, insurance, pensions, savings and tax

State pensions
Tax credits

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<p>If you fancy the excitement of making your perfect home, here’s inspiration</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2019/jan/04/homes-for-new-year-renovation-projects-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Homes for new year renovation projects – in pictures

Jan 4, 2019 7:00

If you fancy the excitement of making your perfect home, here’s inspiration

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<p>Take off into the new year with these well-located properties, from Surrey to Scotland</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2018/dec/28/homes-near-airports-for-easy-2019-getaways-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Homes near airports for easy 2019 getaways – in pictures

Dec 28, 2018 7:00

Take off into the new year with these well-located properties, from Surrey to Scotland

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<p>There’s plenty of space to stash your booze in these properties, from Wales to Wiltshire</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/money/gallery/2018/dec/21/homes-for-sale-with-big-cellars-in-pictures">Continue reading...</a>

Homes for sale with big cellars – in pictures

Dec 21, 2018 7:00

There’s plenty of space to stash your booze in these properties, from Wales to Wiltshire

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<p>You don’t need a rainforest, or even a terrarium, to grow fascinating nepenthes indoors</p><p>When I was a kid growing up in southeast Asia, I was fascinated by the bizarre native nepenthes pitcher plants I’d see on rainforest walks, not to mention the dramatic time-lapse sequences of David Attenborough documentaries. Yet even in those ideal, year-round tropical conditions, I could never get the damn things to grow. A frustration that was made even worse by a visit to <a href="https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/attractions/carnivorous-plants">Kew Gardens</a> on holiday, where I saw the most magnificent specimens tumbling out of hanging baskets and trained over trellises. As they say, desire plus frustration equals obsession, so – 30 years later – I think I have finally cracked it. To share the love, here are my secrets (many of which are the opposite of what the textbooks say) to growing these spectacular plants indoors .</p><p>Almost anyone who has bought a nepenthes, laden with pitchers, and brought it home will know the story. It looks great for a couple of weeks, but soon after, the tips of the pitchers start to turn crisp and brown, eventually it works its way down to where the trap joins the rest of the leaf. This was my experience for years, creating plants that, despite being sort-of alive, didn’t have any traps or make any new ones.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/06/james-wong-how-to-grow-pitcher-plants-indoors-home-nepenthes">Continue reading...</a>

How to grow pitcher plants | James Wong

Jan 6, 2019 11:00

You don’t need a rainforest, or even a terrarium, to grow fascinating nepenthes indoors

When I was a kid growing up in southeast Asia, I was fascinated by the bizarre native nepenthes pitcher plants I’d see on rainforest walks, not to mention the dramatic time-lapse sequences of David Attenborough documentaries. Yet even in those ideal, year-round tropical conditions, I could never get the damn things to grow. A frustration that was made even worse by a visit to Kew Gardens on holiday, where I saw the most magnificent specimens tumbling out of hanging baskets and trained over trellises. As they say, desire plus frustration equals obsession, so – 30 years later – I think I have finally cracked it. To share the love, here are my secrets (many of which are the opposite of what the textbooks say) to growing these spectacular plants indoors .

Almost anyone who has bought a nepenthes, laden with pitchers, and brought it home will know the story. It looks great for a couple of weeks, but soon after, the tips of the pitchers start to turn crisp and brown, eventually it works its way down to where the trap joins the rest of the leaf. This was my experience for years, creating plants that, despite being sort-of alive, didn’t have any traps or make any new ones.

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<p>There’s no planting yet this year, but there’s still much pleasure to be had in planning</p><p>Epiphany 2019. The high tide has turned, the winter just starting to ebb, though there’ll be dark days to come, of course. It’s an auspicious time in the biodynamic calendar. The day we spray the Three Kings preparation and the plot is scented with frankincense and myrrh.</p><p>It’s also Howard’s birthday, so we’ll slice some galette des rois from the French patisserie and take it in turns wearing a paper crown. Stirring is usually done after coming straight from work, sitting in the semi dark and cold in office clothes, plus our golden headgear. This year it’s a Sunday so we’ll be wrapped up warmer.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/06/allan-jenkins-gardening-plot-29-allotment-epiphany-planning-biodynamic">Continue reading...</a>

Celebration and preparation in the allotment | Allan Jenkins

Jan 6, 2019 6:00

There’s no planting yet this year, but there’s still much pleasure to be had in planning

Epiphany 2019. The high tide has turned, the winter just starting to ebb, though there’ll be dark days to come, of course. It’s an auspicious time in the biodynamic calendar. The day we spray the Three Kings preparation and the plot is scented with frankincense and myrrh.

It’s also Howard’s birthday, so we’ll slice some galette des rois from the French patisserie and take it in turns wearing a paper crown. Stirring is usually done after coming straight from work, sitting in the semi dark and cold in office clothes, plus our golden headgear. This year it’s a Sunday so we’ll be wrapped up warmer.

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<p>A small flat in the redeveloped BBC TV Centre has been cleverly furnished to maximise space</p><p>Behind the sweeping curves of the restored 1950s, grade-II-listed former BBC Television Centre Helios building in west London, Sophie Ashby and Charlie Casely-Hayford’s compact one-bedroom flat is a trove of unexpected delights. This is no surprise since both Ashby, who heads up the Studio Ashby interiors practice, and her <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2018/oct/13/hand-me-downs-clothes-pass-on-fathers-sons" title="">menswear-designer husband Casely-Hayford</a>, live and breathe design for a living. Ashby, who bought the apartment off-plan four years ago, was keen to make a considered choice as it was her first owned home.</p><p>“At the time I had just started my business and wanted to get on the property ladder, but also I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get a mortgage without three years of accounts,” explains Ashby. “So this was a neat solution – you pay in instalments over the years. Charlie and I had only just met, so I wasn’t necessarily thinking about the future.”</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/05/small-flat-maximalist-design-bbc-tv-centre">Continue reading...</a>

Big style in a little space

Jan 5, 2019 16:00

A small flat in the redeveloped BBC TV Centre has been cleverly furnished to maximise space

Behind the sweeping curves of the restored 1950s, grade-II-listed former BBC Television Centre Helios building in west London, Sophie Ashby and Charlie Casely-Hayford’s compact one-bedroom flat is a trove of unexpected delights. This is no surprise since both Ashby, who heads up the Studio Ashby interiors practice, and her menswear-designer husband Casely-Hayford, live and breathe design for a living. Ashby, who bought the apartment off-plan four years ago, was keen to make a considered choice as it was her first owned home.

“At the time I had just started my business and wanted to get on the property ladder, but also I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get a mortgage without three years of accounts,” explains Ashby. “So this was a neat solution – you pay in instalments over the years. Charlie and I had only just met, so I wasn’t necessarily thinking about the future.”

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<p>When it’s cold and gloomy outside, let’s hear it for plants that flower in the depth of winter</p><p>It seems so vulnerable to bloom in these darkest of days, with the thinnest of sun rays to warm your nectar, and to do so naked, without the shelter of leaves, too: all that energy needed to flower, and borne on just a few bare twigs. There are not many plants that do, but those that choose to bear their flowers in the depth of winter are to be prized.</p><p>If you’re going to brave winter frosts and flower, shelter (as well as the promise of winter sun) is needed. In many smaller gardens, the ideal spot is against the house, where plants will benefit from the wall’s warmth (in summer, they will offer a pleasing green foil).</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jan/05/winter-flowering-plants-alys-fowler">Continue reading...</a>

Plants to raise the winter spirits | Alys Fowler

Jan 5, 2019 11:00

When it’s cold and gloomy outside, let’s hear it for plants that flower in the depth of winter

It seems so vulnerable to bloom in these darkest of days, with the thinnest of sun rays to warm your nectar, and to do so naked, without the shelter of leaves, too: all that energy needed to flower, and borne on just a few bare twigs. There are not many plants that do, but those that choose to bear their flowers in the depth of winter are to be prized.

If you’re going to brave winter frosts and flower, shelter (as well as the promise of winter sun) is needed. In many smaller gardens, the ideal spot is against the house, where plants will benefit from the wall’s warmth (in summer, they will offer a pleasing green foil).

Continue reading...

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