Des­per­ately seek­ing so­lu­tions to a sticky prob­lem

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My son cov­ered the frosted glass in the bath­room win­dow with mask­ing tape be­fore paint­ing the frames. How­ever, he left it on too long and is now find­ing it im­pos­si­ble to re­move the tape. Any sug­ges­tions would be grate­fully re­ceived. David Snell writes: I pre­sume that your son has tried sol­vents such as white or methy­lated spir­its. But, of course, if he left it so long that the glue went hard, they might not have any ef­fect, par­tic­u­larly within the in­den­ta­tions of the frosted glass.

Chum­leigh Hard­ware (08708 484950) rec­om­mends a prod­uct called the Tableau Sticky La­bel Re­mover (£3 per 200ml aerosol can). This prod­uct is prin­ci­pally de­signed to re­move the glue residue from la­bels and tapes and, with the time that has elapsed in your case, it may take sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions for it to work.

If all else fails, the next thing is to try el­bow grease with a scraper or the blade of a Stan­ley knife. But, un­less your son is very care­ful, it might mean that the cut in the edge of the paint is spoilt and he could have to touch it all up again.

David Snell is con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor to Home­build­ing & Ren­o­vat­ing mag­a­zine and au­thor of Build­ing Your Own Home, avail­able at £25 plus £2.25 p&p from 0870 155 7222.


I am in the process of buy­ing an apart­ment in Ma­jorca and have been sur­prised by the amount which the agent deal­ing with the trans­fer of deeds is charg­ing for ob­tain­ing our NIE (na­tional iden­tity) num­bers — €550.

I was not aware that there was any fee for ob­tain­ing th­ese num­bers, but he tells us that there is a charge for for­eign­ers and that we could not ob­tain the num­ber our­selves be­cause we do not yet have an ad­dress in Spain. Is this true?

The same agent has told the ven­dor, who bought the prop­erty in 1997, that his NIE num­ber has been de-reg­is­tered and that he will have to ob­tain and pay for a new num­ber to com­plete the sale of the prop­erty. We were un­aware that an NIE num­ber could be de-reg­is­tered.

We thought the ac­tual pur­chase costs would be about 10 per cent of the prop­erty price. It has al­ready cost more than 20 per cent and we have not yet re­ceived the fi­nal bill. Lorna Vestey writes: The gen­eral con­sen­sus seems to be that about 10 per cent of the prop­erty’s value is a fair es­ti­mate of usual buy­ing costs in Ma­jorca. While th­ese will ob­vi­ously vary, a rea­son­able guide would be: le­gal fees, 1-3 per cent; mu­nic­i­pal tax ( plus­valia mu­nic­i­pal), 0.5–0.75 per cent; stamp duty, 0.5 per cent; IVA tax, 7 per cent.

It proved un­ex­pect­edly dif­fi­cult to ob­tain pre­cise facts on the NIE for this ap­par­ently straight­for­ward query. The Span­ish Em­bassy proved sur­pris­ingly un­help­ful, while in­ter­net sites (in English at least) and ref­er­ence books skate over NIE costs and de­tailed in­for­ma­tion. And, even at di­rec­tor level, large Ma­jor­can agents were sim­ply un­able to pro­vide an­swers.

Even­tu­ally I was put in touch with law and tax firm Bufete Feliu in Palma (0034 971 714849, www.bufete­fe­ This com­pany charges €82.20 for ob­tain­ing an NIE, so €550 is cer­tainly not nor­mal. JoséLuis Feliu of Bufete Feliu rec­om­mends that buy­ers have a pro­fes­sional as­ses­sor act for them “as it is very dan­ger­ous to do it on your own”. He says buy­ing costs should never be 20 per cent of the price. He would need more in­for­ma­tion to as­sess the de-reg­is­tra­tion.

Lorna Vestey is a for­mer part­ner of a blue-chip Lon­don es­tate agency.


We gave our neigh­bour per­mis­sion to take down our fence in or­der to build a sin­gle­storey ex­ten­sion on the side of his house. The builders worked in our gar­den.

The brick­work was fin­ished to roof level and rafters put in when we went away on hol­i­day. We un­der­stood the roof was to be flat. When we re­turned, the build­ing was com­pleted and a tri­an­gu­lar struc­ture of ap­prox­i­mately 6ft 6in base, and 4ft 6in to 5ft height had been built on the front of the ex­ten­sion in or­der to en­hance its look when seen from the road.

Our prop­er­ties are at right an­gles to each other and so the back of our house looks at the end of his house; thus we see a large white plas­tic board­ing of uPVC pan­els pro­ject­ing up into the sky from our back win­dows.

This ad­di­tion has no struc­tural pur­pose, is merely cos­metic and has prob­a­bly de­val­ued our prop­erty. We un­der­stand that his ex­ten­sion was un­der per­mit­ted de­vel­op­ment rights but there was no sug­ges­tion this awning was to be erected when he asked us for per­mis­sion to build the ex­ten­sion. What can we do to try to make him take it down? John Win­ter writes: You ask what you can ‘‘do to try to make him take it down’’. As the struc­ture is within your neigh­bour’s per­mit­ted de­vel­op­ment rights, I fear that the an­swer is not much.

You say that the two houses are at right an­gles. I have some dif­fi­culty en­vis­ag­ing the ex­act sit­u­a­tion: if the of­fend­ing struc­ture ex­tends in front of your neigh­bour’s house, he is ex­ceed­ing his per­mit­ted de­vel­op­ment rights and you can re­port him to the plan­ning author­ity which, if so minded, can serve an en­force­ment no­tice on him.

Nor­mally, when some­one pro­poses to build up to the plot bound­ary, they serve a party-wall no­tice in­form­ing the neigh­bour of their in­ten­tions. Each side has the right to ap­point a sur­veyor to look af­ter their in­ter­ests and agree what should be done.

If this prac­tice had been fol­lowed, it would be up to your sur­veyor to act for you and, in an ex­treme case, to re­quire the de­mo­li­tion of any struc­ture that had not been agreed by both par­ties. I fear that, in your case, this ex­cel­lent pro­ce­dure was not adopted. It may be that your neigh­bour is at fault in law by not sub­mit­ting the cor­rect no­tice to you un­der the Party Walls Act and you should con­sult your so­lic­i­tor about this. If all else fails, you may have to plant a hedge.

John Win­ter runs his own ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tice.


My wife and I bought a house in cen­tral Lon­don in 1970. Al­though we lived in the house with our chil­dren un­til 1976, we then moved away from Lon­don and rented the house to dif­fer­ent ten­ants on a yearly ba­sis. Apart from a short pe­riod in the 1990s when I re­turned to the house (as a wi­d­ower), it has been rented out since 1976.

I have now given the house to my son, who cur­rently lives and works abroad but will even­tu­ally re­turn to live in it. In­evitably, house price in­fla­tion in cen­tral Lon­don has led to a large no­tional cap­i­tal gain and an eye-wa­ter­ing Cap­i­tal Gains Tax (CGT) bill.

My wife died in 1985 and the Dis­trict Val­uer has in­sisted that my half share of the prop­erty at the time of her death was not the arith­metic half of its 1985 value but 10 per cent less than the arith­metic half, be­cause it was jointly owned. How­ever, my wife and I were ten­ants in com­mon and I be­came the sole owner of the house at that time. I can­not see any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for this ar­bi­trary 10 per cent re­duc­tion in its value, adding sev­eral thou­sand pounds to the CGT bill. Is the rul­ing cor­rect? Mag­gie Flem­ing writes: It is cus­tom­ary to value an un­di­vided share in jointly held prop­erty at a dis­count to the open mar­ket value on the prin­ci­ple that the value of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. How­ever, I fail to see why your orig­i­nal half share is be­ing val­ued at the date of your wife’s death. The gain on the share of the prop­erty which you have owned since 1970 should be based on ei­ther its ac­qui­si­tion cost or its value at March 31, 1982, which­ever pro­duces the lower gain — is this the value that is be­ing dis­counted?

Your gain on the share of the prop­erty which you in­her­ited on your wife’s death would be based on pro­bate value, if this was as­cer­tained. This val­u­a­tion may al­ready in­clude a dis­count, un­less the val­u­a­tion was not con­sid­ered in any de­tail – pos­si­bly be­cause no in­her­i­tance tax li­a­bil­ity arose. Ei­ther val­u­a­tion would be made with ref­er­ence to the prop­erty’s phys­i­cal con­di­tion at that time and any te­nan­cies at that date, as well as the fact that what each of you owned was an un­di­vided share of the whole prop­erty. In a 2001 Lands Tri­bunal case, the tri­bunal up­held the dis­trict val­uer’s con­tention that a 10 per cent dis­count should ap­ply. I doubt that you would be suc­cess­ful if you sought to con­test the dis­trict val­uer’s de­ci­sion.

Mag­gie Flem­ing is a di­rec­tor of Isis Fi­nan­cial Plan­ners and a mem­ber of the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Tax­a­tion.

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