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.bufetefeliu.com). 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.