Your questions answered by our local property experts
Q I'm thinking about selling my property, should I have an open house?
A The answer will depend on a number of factors. An open house will work better for houses than for flats, unless they have their own street entrance or ground floor access (upper floors are more difficult to monitor and may cause a disturbance to neighbours).
This method of viewing works best for properties that either require complete modernisation, (this is undoubtedly the best way to sell this type of property) or for those completely renovated and staged. The day of the open house needs to be managed carefully, staggering the visits within the allotted time, plus you may also want to allow time in between visits for overrun or late arrivals. Keep the sessions short and have at least two sales people on hand. Properties that have the least success with an open house are those presented in an average condition that lack kerb appeal or wow factor. Worst of all are cluttered houses, buyers will only notice the lack of space for their furniture and belongings.
Lindsay Cuthill, Director, Savills Fulham
Sales t: 020 7731 9400
Q As we are heading towards winter what can I do to avoid associated problems in my home?
A Have heating systems and boilers checked, if necessary, by an accredited professional.
Pay special attention to cold roof spaces.
Make sure tanks and pipes are properly protected by lagging, jackets, heating or whatever is necessary to ward off frost and ice. Burst pipes are the number one cause of insurance claims.
Check gutters and downpipes for blockages that can cause water overflow and enter the building structure.
Make sure you know where water stopcock is so water can be turned off as soon as possible to prevent further damage. It's a good idea to know where the gas, electricity and central heating cut-off points are too.
If you are going away over Christmas, set the heating system to run at minimum temperature, to prevent frost damage.
Lee Dribben, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association www.rla.org.uk
Q I'm buying a leasehold flat and am confused about my rights and all the jargon, could you offer some advice?
A With leases getting shorter, leaseholders should be aware of their legal right to extend their lease. To qualify, you now only need to own the lease for 2 years and don't need to live in the property. Your statutory right is an additional 90 years to add to whatever unexpired term you currently hold, with ground rent reduced to a peppercorn.
The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 provides the owners of leasehold properties with the right to manage their own property. It is no longer necessary to prove that the freeholder is at fault or managing the block badly, to claim the right to manage. By setting up a Right to Manage (RTM) Company, leaseholders can take over the running of their block.
If you are concerned that the block is falling into disrepair, and the freeholder isn't managing the block effectively, then you can apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal to request they appoint a Manager that you propose. Requesting a Court Appointed Manager is different from claiming your right to self manage, as there is a need to prove that the freeholder is at fault.
The right to buy the freehold was given to lessees in 1993. There is no requirement to reside in the flat and you can own the flat through a company. Provided two thirds of the flats have long leases and that 51% of the qualifying lessees participate, you can force the freeholder to sell you his title.
Mary-Anne Bowring, Founding Director of Ringley Chartered Surveyors and creator of www.leaseholdersupport.co.uk. Understand your rights as a leaseholder, and visit the site for clear and simple guidelines.
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