Boards and lodg­ing: a high-street hor­ror story

Send your prop­erty prob­lems to: Prop­erty Clinic, The Daily Tele­graph, 111 Buck­ing­ham Palace Road, Lon­don SW1W 0DT

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Propertycl­inic -


My flat is one of 10 in a con­ver­sion of four houses in a Ge­or­gian ter­race. In the three months up to Christ­mas, one of the flats was sold and two were let through three dif­fer­ent agen­cies, which put up their boards. Then, over the next month, four more boards ap­peared, put up by agen­cies that were not in­volved in any busi­ness with the flats and were ob­vi­ously fly-post­ing to get their names seen. Thus, we ended up with seven boards on our rail­ings.

Other res­i­dents and I asked the of­fend­ing agen­cies to re­move their boards but they did not. In the end, one of our num­ber re­moved them.

Is there any way that this prob­lem can be dealt with other than through re­peated, time-con­sum­ing and in­creas­ingly ac­ri­mo­nious calls to the of­fend­ing agen­cies? Might it be ef­fec­tive if the flats’ man­age­ment com­pany wrote to all lo­cal agen­cies say­ing that all fly-posted boards will be re­moved? Or should we approach the con­trac­tors re­spon­si­ble for putting up the signs? Surely it is il­le­gal for boards to be at­tached to our rail­ings with­out our per­mis­sion? David Flem­ing writes: It has been said that the pur­pose of a board out­side a prop­erty is not to ad­ver­tise the prop­erty but the agency. In re­cent years there have been many in­ci­dents of the sort you men­tion, whereby agen­cies have placed boards out­side prop­er­ties that they are not ac­tu­ally in­structed to sell.

There are strict plan­ning laws reg­u­lat­ing what boards may be erected. Th­ese are con­tained in the Town & Coun­try Plan­ning Act (Con­trol of Ad­ver­tise­ments) Reg­u­la­tions 1992. The reg­u­la­tions say that there may be only one board per prop­erty (it is not clear whether this is per build­ing or per flat), limit the size and state that an ad­ver­tise­ment has to be re­moved 14 days af­ter the sale is com­pleted or a ten­ancy is granted. Some lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly in Lon­don, take a strong line on th­ese and it may be worth­while re­port­ing the mat­ter to them. The­o­ret­i­cally, an agency that breaches the reg­u­la­tions could ul­ti­mately face pro­ceed­ings from the Of­fice of Fair Trad­ing, dis­qual­i­fy­ing it from prac­tis­ing.

You are quite right in say­ing that boards tend to be erected by con­trac­tors but you should com­plain di­rect to the agency. Cer­tainly it would be quite rea­son­able to tell the agency that un­less the board is re­moved within a short space of time, you will take it down your­self, which it seems you have al­ready done. David Flem­ing is head of prop­erty lit­i­ga­tion at William Heath & Co.


My wife and I are about to ex­change con­tracts on a small ter­raced prop­erty which will be oc­cu­pied by our daugh­ter and her boyfriend. To fund the pur­chase, we have in­creased the mort­gage on our main res­i­dence on an in­ter­est-only ba­sis, and will charge rent to cover the in­ter­est. We have man­aged to get a good, fiveyear fixed rate so that our daugh­ter and her part­ner know the rent will be stable and, in a few years, may be in a po­si­tion to pur­chase the house from us.

I con­tacted the In­land Rev­enue and was ad­vised that we could off­set the in­ter­est on the in­creased amount of the mort­gage against the rental in­come, and hence not pay any tax on it. I made it clear that the mort­gage was on my main res­i­dence, and not on the new prop­erty.

How­ever, I am now wor­ried that I have been wrongly ad­vised. We will have a real cash-flow prob­lem if we can­not off­set. We would have to put the new house in my wife’s name to min­imise tax on the rent, but this would mean that fu­ture Cap­i­tal Gains Tax (CGT) would be greater, as we could use only one al­lowance.

Please put my mind at rest that we are al­lowed to off­set even though the mort­gage is not on the prop­erty be­ing rented. Mag­gie Flem­ing writes: Your tax of­fice is ab­so­lutely cor­rect. You can deduct the in­ter­est on the part of the loan used to buy the prop­erty, pro­vided that your rental busi­ness is be­ing run on com­mer­cial terms. As it is be­ing let to your daugh­ter, you need to be care­ful that the ex­penses can­not be dis­al­lowed on the grounds that you are sim­ply main­tain­ing your fam­ily.

In or­der for the let­tings to be treated as a busi­ness, you should charge a full mar­ket rent and have a nor­mal lease in place. How­ever, if the prop­erty is let at less than mar­ket rent, you should still be able to deduct ex­penses up to the amount of the rent each year – you will not be able to carry ex­cess ex­penses over to a later year, how­ever. You are aware that you will have CGT to pay on sale. Do not for­get that a fu­ture sale to your daugh­ter will be deemed to take place at mar­ket value: i.e. you will not be able to trans­fer the prop­erty at a lower cost in or­der to save CGT. Mag­gie Flem­ing is a di­rec­tor of Isis Fi­nan­cial Plan­ners and a mem­ber of the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Tax­a­tion.


Hav­ing had a prop­erty on the mar­ket for over a year with one es­tate agent, we de­cided to move our sole agency to a sec­ond com­pany. I wrote to the first es­tate agency, giv­ing two weeks’ no­tice as re­quired.

Within a week of in­struct­ing the new agent, it had pre­pared sale de­tails, erected a “For Sale” board and showed round a po­ten­tial buyer. How­ever, the po­ten­tial buyer then saw our house’s de­tails at the orig­i­nal es­tate agency, talked to it and said it “gave all the in­for­ma­tion re­quired, which they were un­able to get from the sec­ond agent”. We have now ac­cepted an of­fer from th­ese buy­ers through the first agency. Are we also li­able for the sec­ond agency’s fee? Lorna Vestey writes: This is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of ab­so­lutely ev­ery­one be­hav­ing im­prop­erly. Your new agency should have been help­ful and in­for­ma­tive, whereas it ap­pears it was not. The po­ten­tial buy­ers should have per­se­vered with the agency that had shown them the prop­erty, your sole agent. If buy­ers want a dif­fer­ent agency’s help, they should re­tain it to act on their be­half and pay it a fee. The disin­structed agency should nei­ther have still been dis­play­ing your prop­erty, nor have got in­volved with the new agency’s buy­ers and are try­ing it on in a ma­jor way. You should not have dealt with, or con­sid­ered an of­fer through, an agency that had not brought the buyer to the prop­erty; what were you think­ing of?

Now you are faced with a mess. I be­lieve you are bound to pay com­mis­sion to the new agency be­cause it found the buyer for the prop­erty, as in­structed.

The le­gal po­si­tion on whether fees are also due to the dis-in­structed agents may de­pend on the word­ing of cor­re­spon­dence be­tween you. I do not think it de­serves a fee. It did not find the buyer and knew an­other agency was al­ready deal­ing with the mat­ter.

If things get nasty and you are de­ter­mined not to pay dou­ble fees, the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Es­tate Agents (01926 496 800) may be able to help you to re­solve mat­ters. Lorna Vestey is a for­mer part­ner of a blue-chip Lon­don es­tate agency.


We have an oak beam over our fire­place which has been painted black. We would like to lighten it by sev­eral shades. Is there any method of do­ing this other than sand­blast­ing, which would wreak havoc with our dec­o­ra­tions and fur­nish­ings? David Snell writes: The prob­lem with oak beams in the home that have been “painted” is know­ing which paint or stain has been used in the past. It is en­tirely pos­si­ble, of course, that sev­eral dif­fer­ent tech­niques have been used over time, in­clud­ing the tra­di­tional one of pitch.

Strip­pers Paint Re­movers (01787 371524) has var­i­ous prod­ucts that are ca­pa­ble of re­mov­ing most paints and stains. You may be asked to send in a sam­ple of what you are try­ing to re­move so that it can an­a­lyse it and sug­gest the best rem­edy. It is prob­a­ble that you will have to make sev­eral ap­pli­ca­tions but I am con­fi­dent that you will achieve to­tal suc­cess or con­sid­er­able lightening. David Snell is con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor to ‘Home­build­ing & Ren­o­vat­ing’ mag­a­zine and au­thor of ‘Build­ing Your Own Home’, avail­able at £25 plus p & p from 0870 155 7222.

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