Archive for October, 2010
The last five years has seen an increase in unoccupied housing being seized by squatters, unfortunately it would seem that squatters have more rights to a property than the home owner does. There is very little you can do to remove them without going to court and spending a small fortune in eviction notices. If you are successful you then have the financially draining task of having to re-decorate and furnish the property as most squatters will not bother to clean or keep the property in good shape.
The most worrying trend that seems to be sweeping across the UK is foreign settlers that ‘house watch’ when they find a house that is unoccupied they quickly move all their belongings in, change the locks and take over. Squatter’s rights only seem to cover those that move into a property that is vacant but worryingly houses have been seized when it is occupied. There have been reports of unsuspecting people going about their daily lives of working, going to the shops and going on holiday only to come back and find that people have moved in, changed the locks and claiming the house as theirs.
The police only usually get involved if they have broken in or caused criminal damage, if they managed to find a way in without causing any damage then you will need to have a backup plan. It is extremely disheartening to know that you could go to work in the morning and come back to find that your house has been taken over by low life. Usually squatters are those that cannot afford to pay rent, drug dealers, alcoholics and students are then most common squatters. Then there are tenants who stop paying rent and then claim squatter’s rights.
If you do find that you are a victim of squatters then seek advice immediately don’t let them get too comfortable. Most people will say burn the house down, threaten them or break in but if they were to call the police you would be in trouble not them as you would’ve been the one to make the first move. It’s unfortunate that at the moment there is no law in place to protect homeowners so here are a few things you can do to deter squatters:
- Have a timer that will switch on the lights automatically every now and then
- If you have a good neighbour ask them to go in and check the post and draw curtains etc
- Always make sure the windows and doors are locked, you may need additional security
- Install security cameras or an alarm you can get them at your local DIY store and do it yourself
- Put up signs saying ‘no trespassing allowed’ or ‘CCTV in action’ these can also deter squatters and thieves
- Instruct a security specialist to look after you property when vacant, they can also board up the property using steel rather than timber
Takes steps to look after your property whether it is your family home or a let property.
Ovens are one of the hardest of kitchen appliances to clean, you can easily spend a hundred pounds finding the perfect cleaning solution to solve your dirt and grease problems but in the end you may find that one is not enough to do the job. Most householders do not use their oven as often as their hobs but even if you do not use it that often grease and dried out food can still be left behind when cleaning. The hardest part of cleaning the oven is probably removing the grease build up on the outside and the inside of the oven.
All cleaning products offer to remove grease effortlessly and with one application but the reality is it needs a good scrub and even then you will need more solution. I for one have bought 6 different cleaning products to rid my oven of grease but so far none have come close to getting rid of this grime.
When all domestic cleaning products fail you there is only one solution, call in the professionals. In most cases ovens get so dirty to the point you don’t want to use it because of laziness, many people do not clean it straight after using and let it sit for days to come. This makes the problem worse as dried food will only be reluctant to budge and new grease will build up on whatever was there before. Sometimes a good clean is only needed once a year to help you kick start the cleaning routine, but in some cases you may find that it needs doing on a regular basis.
If you have a house that is being let to students or short term leases then you may find that after each tenant moves out the oven will need a thorough clean before being in an acceptable state to be let out again. In this case you will get your money back through rental income. If you are selling your house and have neglected your oven then once again professional cleaning can also help you make a sale by showing care and clean surroundings.
Professional oven cleaning
With so many companies promising affordable prices you will also need to check that the company is reputable and have a good client history. Some may charge less but not provide a thorough cleaning whereas some small companies will provide a good service. It’s worth asking your neighbours for a good reliable company and going on the internet to find reviews from other consumers before you accept a quote. Don’t be bullied into accepting your first quote and don’t fall for offers such as ‘this weekend only special value’ they want you to accept as soon as possible, get a few quotes and compare before agreeing.
There will come a time when you will look at the roof of your house and find that it doesn’t look so great and you may even find moss or algae on your driveway or patio. This is perfectly normal as the roof of a house is the most neglected when it comes to maintenance and cleaning, it’s hard to get to and dangerous to access if you don’t have the proper equipment and training. The last 5 years alone has seen requests for roof cleaning treble as many people try to regain the former glory of the exterior of their house.
The main reason a homeowner would choose to have their roof cleaned is to create the illusion that the roof has been maintained properly and in some cases making the roof look newer compared to the adjacent houses. It’s also a great cheat when it comes to selling a house as it makes the property look more appealing to the others on the same road. Make your property stand out and increase the chances of a quick sale by having your roof cleaned.
Roof cleaning problems
Over time the roof of a property will have a build up of algae, moss and lichen, properties that benefit from full sunlight in rural areas are most likely to have this problem but in the last 50 years it has spread to many inner city areas. Lichen, moss and algae can have roots that are stubborn to get rid of in some cases being as deep as 12mm. These penetrate the roof and surrounding areas and allow water to soak through. In time it can cause mould and damp to properties, the roof will also have to bear the weight of this and in time will deteriorate faster than roofs that have been cleaned.
Roof cleaning process
The solution to these pests is simple and having your roof cleaned will prolong the tiles and prevent damp, mould and drain blockage. Here is a step by step description of the process:
- All areas that are not to be treated will be covered, the pipes disconnected and rubber matting placed down
- The roof is now ready for cleaning, a high pressure power jet is used to removed all algae, moss, lichen fungi and dirt
- The gutters, pipes and drains will also get a thorough cleanout
- Some companies will also repair any minor damage to your roof such as broken, damaged or missing tiles, re-pointing or cement work (usually included in the price of the quote)
- Now that the roof is clean and repaired an environmentally friendly treatment wash is sprayed on, this will prevent any further growth of fungi, moss, lichen or algae
- Finally a clear solution is sprayed onto the roof to act as a protective layer against water and to prevent any further attacks. The clear solution is breathable and will also act as an insulator to keep heat from escaping
Not all roof cleaning companies will offer the same service; some may be cheaper because less work is carried out whereas others will be more expensive as all aspects of roof maintenance are performed. You should expect to pay around £800 for an average 3 bedroom property but the age and severity of cleaning may mean you might have to pay more.
As house prices continue to decline, a sneaky way for sellers to recuperate losses is to literally strip the house base of any essentials they can to take to their new home or sell on. When you are in the process of buying a house usually you (as a buyer) will be supplied with an inventory of what the house will be sold with such as fixtures and furnishings. Of course the seller will not be very thorough and list all light fittings or brass doorknobs from room A to Z so it is up to you to go over the inventory with a fine tooth comb to make sure that everything is included.
Homebuyers that have bought homes under the asking price have been shocked to find that silly things have been taken by the previous owners as a way of begrudging the new owners of the reduced sale price. These include light bulbs and light fittings, toilet seats, door knobs, grass and even light switches. It may seem funny to those who haven’t experienced this but after splashing out £500,000 on a detached property, you would expect the light bulbs and toilet seat to still be in place.
Unfortunately unless you have the time and money to take the previous owners to court there is little that can be done; this is why it is extremely important to make sure that no small item is left out when asking about the inventory.
The opposite has happened to many other homebuyers; they have moved into a house that still had rubbish left in such as unwanted furniture and junk. In some cases the buyer has had to shell out hundreds of pounds on skips to get rid of the previous owners junk.
As this has been happening from the 1990’s it was much worse back then as people use to rip out the radiators, boilers and brass fittings and sell as scrap metal to make a few extra pounds. In a way house stripping has gotten worse as people have gone to extreme lengths to recuperate their losses by ripping out the carpets, wooden flooring, all premium sockets and light switches such as those which are chrome plated. It looks like this problem will only get worse as the housing market continues to fluctuate and sellers look for alternative ways to make a profit.
Here are a few cases of extreme house stripping in the last few years:
- A seller who had to sell his £500,000 house at a 15% loss took with him his £20,000 log cabin as a way of recuperating his losses
- Another seller who sold his £3 million pound property with a golf course slashed the price by 15% so he could take all the lawn from the golf course with him
- A Victorian house seller took out all the original and antique toilet seats and brass door knobs
- And angry seller who did not make a profit stripped out all the light fittings and light bulbs leaving all the ceiling wires exposed
If this trend continues to grow, people may find that buying a house is more hassle than it’s worth and stick to selling or opt to buy new properties only. It’s a shame that the housing market has caused so much loss to the owners of properties that they have to resort to stripping a house bare to make a profit.