Love Thy Neighbour

Spring has sprung — or, at any rate, it’s going to on 20 March — and with it comes the desire to renovate or decorate our homes. It’s a primeval cave-cleaning itch lots of us just have to scratch.

But before home-owners or landlords get out the step-ladders and paint brushes, think about this. Research from Direct Line’s SELECT Premier Insurance has revealed that in the last five years around 3.7 million of us have suffered property damage as a result of our neighbours making renovations to their homes.

In fact, the scary neighbour-induced repair bill for damages across the UK came to more than £1.5 billion; yet only a third of neighbours accepted responsibility for damages — and a fifth paid nothing towards rectifying the problems they had caused.

Damage to neighbours’ fencing was top of the list (experienced by 43 per cent of those surveyed), with 25 per cent highlighting damage to windows and damage to garden features (fountains and sheds, for example). Damage to gates and roofs was next on the list.

So if you’re about to start a home makeover project, think about the people over the garden fence. And think about the garden fence, too, while you’re about it. “It is worth assessing and discussing the risk of damage to adjacent properties with neighbours,” says Nick Brabham, head of SELECT Premier Insurance. “It is also crucial to check whether your home insurance policy covers damage caused by neighbour renovatio

Rent Controls Explained

The call for rent controls has been growing louder recently, with one poll showing that 59 per cent of people in the UK support their return (even though rent control ended for new lettings in Britain in 1989). Essentially, rent controls are a way to ensure mandatory legal limits on housing rents, and chime with a recent report from respected think tank Civitas which stated that “a new regulatory regime is needed in the private rented sector.”

Yet research among landlords show that three out of five landlords would leave, or consider leaving, the private rented market if controls were introduced, while the press seems divided on the matter. In the run-up to the General Election — and with the Green Party and Plaid Cymru in favour of rent controls, and Labour leader Ed Miliband calling for caps on rent increases — landlords and renters should expect this subject to come up again in ensuing party political debates.

What’s in a Name?

If you’re a homeowner or landlord buying a house that has a name rather than a number, you might want — or even need — to change it before you get the keys, particularly if it’s called — groan — Dunroamin’ or, worse (and these are real names of real houses), Bogg View (which is apparently located opposite a public toilets), Costa Plenty or Badde Manors.

To change the name of your property to something more appealing, apply to your local council who might charge you an admin fee (no surprise there); but you can only choose a name that won’t cause confusion with another property in the area. After your council has checked with the Royal Mail to ensure the name is viable, it will provide you with a certificate of renaming and inform the Land Registry and Electoral Registration. You then need to let all your contacts know — so write to your utility companies, your mortgage company and your doctor, for instance. Remember: ask your estate agent for advice if you want to change your new property’s house name.