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PPA : Spinnaker Tower
PPA : Spinnaker Tower

STAMP DUTY FOR FIRST TIME BUYERS

You will no doubt have heard that following yesterday’s budget the starting threshold for a first time buyer of residential property paying stamp duty has been raised from £125,000.00 to £250,001.00.

This applies until 25th March 2012. A first time buyer in this instance is a person who has not previously acquired a freehold or leasehold interest in residential property in the UK or an equivalent interest anywhere in the world. Buyers buying together must both qualify in this manner. Where one joint buyer has previously owned property then they do not qualify.

A person who inherited a property does not qualify, nor can someone buy on behalf of another person, the property purchased must be bought by the first time buyer for use as their only or main residence. It is proposed a new layer of duty will be introduced in April next year, applicable to property purchases in excess of £1 million and the rate applicable will be 5%.

John Blake
of Warner Goodman LLP and PPA committee member

Members: Claire Battye, John Blake

THINK BEFORE YOU BUILD

Many homeowners unwittingly break the law when carrying out building or alteration works because they are unaware of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

This Act requires homeowners under certain circumstances to serve Notice on their neighbour of their intention to carry out building works. Examples of work likely to trigger a Notice include: building an extension within 3 metres of a neighbouring property; loft conversion works; cutting of roof flashings into party walls; excavation for drainage works etc.

The Act does not simply apply to houses but could also affect flats if a block is being extended or internal structural alterations are proposed.

Many homeowners believe it is sufficient to get Planning and Building Regulation approval from the council but these consents do not confer any rights under the Party Wall Act. If in doubt, homeowners wishing to carry out extension or alteration works should take advice from a party wall surveyor who is a member of the Portsmouth Property Association.

Neil A Hawkins, FRICS – party wall surveyor at Chandler Hawkins, Chartered Surveyors and Secretary of Portsmouth Property Association

Neil Hawkins : Chandler Hawkins
Members: Neil Hawkins, Peter Chandler

THE NEIGHBOURS ARE REVOLTING

Everyone has very specific expectations about what their Landlord and Managing Agent should deliver. Most will also be quick to shout, quite rightly, when they don’t!

But what about the Leaseholder? Quick to know their rights, are they all as quick to understand their responsibilities? For all those literally, living on top of one another, simple consideration of your neighbours is essential. When moving from a house to a flat particularly, the change in living style will often come as a real shock. But, fail to consider your neighbours and you will eventually have a revolt on your hands!

Noise is the main cause of disputes, whether it is listening to Cliff Richards at full volume, DIY or workmen; keeping the volume down and neighbours informed of unusual noise and when it will occur, will help avoid complaints. And those wooden floors in house conversions? Neighbourly carpets or rugs are a real must and will often be required by your lease. Most importantly, get to know your neighbours! Issues can usually be resolved with a quick chat.

‘Water water everywhere….’ Water leaks are the most common cause of damage not only to your own property but also those beneath you and a great way to fall out. If going away from more than 48 hours turn off the water at the flat’s stopcock and provide your managing agent with an emergency contact.

Another great cause of disputes is ‘Parking Wars’. They are a problem everywhere; from your local shops, to the office, to your property’s car park. Allocated spaces should be respected and make visitors aware of where they can park. Visitor’s parking is just that! Parking your car in the visitor’s space to leave yours free is technically cheating and the promised neighbour revolt will soon follow.

Zoë Harris
Carnelian Property Services
and PPA commitee member

Branches in: Fareham

WHEN IS DAMP NOT DAMP!

This time of the year we are often phoned by concerned tenants who declare ‘‘we’ve got damp” and demanding that something is done about it. On investigation it is usually discovered to be a condensation problem caused by what are termed ‘lifestyle issues’ (not heating or ventilating the property correctly). Whilst it is easy to just ignore the issue and blame the tenant, this does little to alleviate the situation or reduce the likelihood of a perfectly good tenant leaving at the earliest opportunity. So what can be done? Firstly, education, most Local Authorities in the Portsmouth area produce guidance booklets for Tenants which are seen as impartial advice. These explain the reasons for condensation build up and its consequences, the necessity of adequately heating and ventilate a home, and what to avoid i.e. not drying laundry on radiators or blocking room vents. Secondly, where it is identified that heating, ventilation or insulation is inadequate, these can be improved, quite often with the use of a Local Authority grant, which your tenant may be entitled to. Even if you carry out the work at your own expense, you will find that roof insulation and window ventilators are comparatively inexpensive, and replacing an old heating system can save you considerably on servicing and repair bills in the future. Of course if you think that the problem may be a real damp issue then you should consult a local Chartered Surveyor and the PPA can provide you with a list of suitably qualified members.

Branches in: Auction Department, Clanfield, Denmead, Fareham, Havant, Land & New Homes Department, Southsea, Survey Department, Waterlooville
Members: Brett Austin, Chris McKenzie, Debbie Passells, Graham Atkins, Jeremy Beckingsale, Mark Gilbert, Martin Banfield, Paul Wolland, Steve Sprake