Daniels LLP Solicitors
STUCK IN A COSTLY SERVICE CONTRACT
WHEN we bought our semi-detached retirement bungalow five years ago, we signed a lease which included an agreement with the builders to pay £550 a year in return for which they’d keep the garden tidy, decorate the outside of the house and service the central heating. This figure has now risen to £730 and we can’t afford it. Can we refuse to pay this increase? IF the lease allows the builders the power to alter the fee they charge, then you won’t be able to get out of the obligation. Show the document to a solicitor. It’s possible you will be able to challenge the amount of the charge, buy the freehold, bring in a different management company, or even manage the site yourselves. But first you should ask to inspect the accounts and see how your money has been spent.
SAVING OUR HOME FOR OUR SON
I WANT to make sure my son doesn’t have to pay for us if we should ever have to go into an old folks’ home. Can I give the house to my son and continue to pay the mortgage myself? You are expected to contribute to care home fees from your capital if you have more than £14,250, so I presume you are considering giving away your property with this in mind. However, the local authority can refuse to pay care home fees if it believes that you’ve given away your assets with the intention of avoiding them. What’s more, if you give your property to your son you could lose your home if, for example, he was to divorce or be made bankrupt. I recommend that you take detailed legal advice before embarking on such a course of action.
ACCESS ISSUES ACROSS GARDEN
WHEN my neighbour moved in she put up a fence around her garden, but in doing so she cut off her access to her outside toilet. These days it only houses her bins, but because of the fence the only way she can get to it is across our land. A friend told us we shouldn’t allow her to do this. IF your neighbour uses your land for access purposes for 20 years or more she – and anyone who bought her house in the future – could acquire the right to do so permanently. This would only apply if she was using the route without your permission however, so you should perhaps give her written permission to do so and keep a copy. Similarly she’s running something of a risk of losing her loo at some stage if she’s incorporated it into your property.
FOOTING THE BILL FOR EX-BUSINESS
A FRIEND and I went into partnership and made an overdraft arrangement with the bank based on the value and equity of our homes. After a disagreement I left the business and asked the bank for the immediate release of my security. But three months later the company was in voluntary liquidation and the bank is demanding repayment of the £26,000 overdraft. The bank says there never was any equity in my ex-partner’s house, which is why they’re coming after me. UNDER most loan agreements the bank will be able to claim the whole amount of the overdraft from you and nothing from your former partner if they so choose: you are probably ‘jointly and severally’ liable. It’s normal for there to be a period after you have notified the bank when you are still liable for new debts – the period would depend on the wording of the loan agreement. Ideally you should have wound up the business when you left. Discuss your current situation with a solicitor as soon as possible.