THE Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.
Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Jane Hamilton, property expert
THE kitchen is the heart of the home, with buyers consistently rating it as the room most likely to persuade them to purchase a pad.
But which one is right for your lifestyle? Here Kitchen expert Magnet reveals which style could suit you.
A spokesman said: “Practicality is key and the shape you select should be able not only to accommodate your lifestyle but enhance it.”
L-SHAPE: This classic style sees units along two adjoining walls for a continuous flow of worktops. It suits most settings, feels spacious in a small home and could allow space for a dining table if your room is larger.
GALLEY: Also known as a “parallel kitchen”, the shape is very efficient, squeezing lots of units into a small space. It’s popular in smaller flats and also with serious cooks because you can move between worktops and units with ease.
PENINSULA: If you don’t have space for a trendy island but want the look, a peninsula adds style but uses less floorspace. Rather than a free-standing workspace, the island surface is attached to a wall.
U-SHAPED: This layout uses worktops on three connecting sides to allow for ample room for cooking. It’s popular with couples who like to cook together as two people can work at once.
ISLAND: Usually suited to medium to large-sized kitchens, an island can contribute valuable extra storage and worktop space that is so sought after by large families.
Buy of the week
PLUCKY Harrogate Town have secured promotion to the Football League for the first time in their 106-year history.
The posh North Yorkshire spa town is a premier place to live too, and you can pick up this newly refurbished three-bed terraced house for just £200,000 at onthemarket.com/details/9031509.
Not up to scratch
HOME owners spend an average of 70 minutes cleaning and tidying before a sale viewing, new research reveals.
But despite this, almost half of buyers and renters have described a viewing as “disgusting”, with filthy carpets, dirty dishes in the sink and the smell of cats named as the top property turn-offs.
Stepan Dobrovolskiy, from lettings portal Mashroom, which conducted the study, said: “We all know that first impressions matter, but in the rush of everyday life some properties are left in a less than presentable state.”
Deal of the week
MARBLE effect top? Mid-century styling? Hairpin legs?
Tick off the hot trends with this new Triste coffee table, just £65 at Dunelm.
SAVE: Up to £200 on designer versions.
Judge Rinder, legal expert
Q) A FEW weeks ago our neighbours had a bonfire which got out of control.
The fire has caused a huge amount of damage to our garden as well as neighbouring gardens.
I’ve since discovered that our neighbours live in a private property sub-let through our local council. We tried to claim through the council to cover the cost of the damage.
They’ve really dragged their heels with the claim and have asked for pictures and videos of the aftermath many times.
We have now been told we have no claim as the landlady of the property’s insurance only covers her if she is living there.
The tenants have no insurance and our council is washing its hands of it all.
The council has told us to claim through our home insurance. Surely this is not right? COLIN
A) I am not entirely clear on who owns your neighbour’s property or who arranged the sub-let. If it is privately owned then the landlady is almost certainly responsible.
If the council owns the freehold they may also be liable but, by the sound of it, they don’t.
It seems to me that if your landlady agreed for her property to be sub-let, it was for her to make sure that she had adequate insurance to cover damage caused by her tenants.
The same is true if the council arranged the sub-let. It comes down to those two factors: Who owns your neighbour’s property and who agreed for it to be sub-let.
If the answer is the landlady, you should (along with your other neighbours) write to her including a quote for the damages.
If it is the council, you must write to the head of legal affairs at the housing department making clear that, since they arranged the sub-let, they are liable for the fire that was caused.
Will I lose out?
Q) MY partner and I had been together for 44 years before shedied of coronavirus in April.
We never married and she has a daughter from a previous relationship.
Her daughter phoned me to say she has received a copy of her mother’s will and has been left the entire estate, including half of our bungalow. I was not mentioned in the will.
My partner and I were joint tenants and after we took out an equity mortgage we became tenants in common.
Do I have to hand over lock, stock and barrel half of my bungalow to my partner’s daughter? Or would I have a legal case if I fight to own it outright? JOHN
A) This is a thorny legal problem. The likelihood is that your late wife’s daughter has a strong claim to half the bungalow unless you can prove you haven’t been adequately considered in the will and are going to be left destitute, or you believe your wife was pressured into changing her will.
Even if your wife’s daughter is entitled to half the property, there are moves that could prevent her from forcing you to sell up during your lifetime.
You need to act quickly as you only have a few months in the event that you wish to challenge your late wife’s will. You must get legal assistance as soon as possible.
Q) I AGREED to be a guarantor for my son so he could move out of a house-share to his own place.
He has struggled with PTSD and mental health problems since he was discharged from the Army.
He paid the first two months of the rent then hasn’t paid a penny since and is burying his head in the sand, ignoring my calls.
I’m now afraid of what will happen to me as I’m still furloughed from my main job, and it’s uncertain if I’ll ever go back.
I’m on a limited income but have proposed to pay the agent for my son’s landlord £150 a month – which is more than I can afford. What can I do? MICHELLE
A) The difficult part of this case is that, because you agreed to be a guarantor, you are liable for your son’s rent in full until the end of his lease.
So, the first thing to do is to email and write a clear message to your son telling him (in no uncertain terms) that you cannot afford to pay his rent and that, if he is no longer working, he needs to notify his landlord that he wishes to vacate the property or, if he has lost his income, to apply for housing benefit.
If there is still no reply from him, write to the landlord stating you no longer wish to stand as a guarantor and set out your financial circumstances, reaffirming your offer of £150 per month.
If the landlord insists on you paying the full amount, get down to Citizens Advice as soon as possible for more help.
Mel Hunter, Reader's champion
Q) IN March my wife and I flew to Gran Canaria with Ryanair. We were due to fly back on March 21, but Ryanair emailed to say the flight home had been cancelled.
I couldn’t get through to Ryanair and checked its website for alternative flights. The next was a week later, though this also ultimately cancelled.
The advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office was to get home as soon as possible, so I managed to book us on a Jet2 flight for Birmingham, costing £365.
Our son picked us up from Birmingham then drove us to Bristol to pick up my car, a round trip of 250 miles. On our return home I lodged a refund request for £130 with Ryanair for our cancelled flight. I am still waiting for it.
Ryanair is refusing to compensate me for the extra expenses incurred in getting back to the UK. Months on, I am struggling to sort this out. KEITH, NEWPORT
A) You were still fighting to sort this out four months after the whole nightmare began.
You had been caught in an impossible position in March. Ordered to get home, but with an airline – Ryanair – that was being about as much use as a chocolate teapot.
You were lucky to get on a Jet2 flight and get yourselves home just before the lockdown slammed down.
Ryanair finally agreed to refund your cancelled flight, but refused your claim for compensation, saying the circumstances were out of its control.
I found it hard to argue with that, but told Ryanair that it had failed in its responsibility to get you home and should not leave you out of pocket.
Eventually, we managed to untangle this. I supported you in jumping through more Ryanair hoops, got the airline to review your case, and finally sorted out a refund of ALL the money you were owed.
Q) I ORDERED garden furniture from Aldi online costing £120.
After the delivery date had passed, I was told only half of the order had been dispatched and the other half was unavailable.
I was given the option of cancelling the whole order which I took, but was told it could not refund until it received the goods back, which were with the delivery company.
Nearly two weeks later, the first part of the cancelled order was delivered to me. Aldi admitted it had not been cancelled as it should have been.
It sent me a returns label to attach to the goods and arranged a pick up.
I waited in for two days but the courier didn’t come and all attempts to return the items since have failed. All I want is Aldi to refund the £120. JOHN, SWINTON
A) As time went on, you received half of your refund from Aldi, but it refused to refund the rest until it got the furniture back that it had delivered in error.
I stepped in, explaining how ludicrous the situation was. You were being put to endless inconvenience because Aldi messed up. I got the money back for you.
An Aldi spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear of Mr Cottrill’s experience and have provided a full refund for both parts of his order.”
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