THE Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.
Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Jane Hamilton, property expertJane Hamilton has a few top tips to cash in on the Stamp Duty holiday extension
Top tenant tips for the garden
THE approaching Easter Bank Holiday is a busy time for sprucing up gardens.
But a fifth of the population now lives in private rented accommodation, often with strict controls on changes to outside space.
The run-up to the Easter Bank Holiday is a busy time for sprucing up gardens
So we teamed up to gardeningexpress.co.uk to reveal easy alterations you can make. Gardening Express founder Chris Bonnett says: “Renters should stick to non-permanent changes, but if something big needs changing it is worth getting written permission from the landlord.”
- Window boxes: An affordable way to improve the kerb appeal of a home, especially if there is not much space. Use a variety of plants, with different textures and colours.
- Herbs: Perfect for beginner gardeners, they thrive on a windowsill or outside the back door.
- Containers: If you are reluctant to put down roots in your rented home, opt for pots you can move to your next property.
- Zones: Moving items around can give a rented garden the illusion of extra space, without drastic changes. Move pots and plants to one area and create an al fresco dining space by grouping the BBQ and table in another.
- Deal with the weeds: A basic tidy works wonders in any garden. Create your own weed-killer without harsh chemicals by mixing vinegar, water and soap.
- Be bold: Add bright accessories for a pop of colour. Hang some bunting or a chic picnic blanket, and some throw cushions if the furniture budget is tight.
- Walls: Consider painting walls with chalk for special occasions, as it will wash off and leave no damage.
ALMOST one in five homeowners have been unable to remortgage their home since the pandemic started, a new report reveals.
More than two-fifths of these said their application had been rejected because they had lost their jobs, and a third because they had been put on furlough pay by their employer. Mark Gordon, from comparethemarket.com, which conducted the research said: “Being unable to remortgage means some households will roll on to a lender’s standard variable rate, and, over the years, could lose thousands of pounds on higher interest charges.”
Deal of the week
Ada botanical white and green outdoor rug
OUTDOOR rugs are the latest trend for jazzing up your garden. Pick up this Ada Botanical white and green design for £19.99 at homescapesonline.com
SAVE: £10 on similar styles elsewhere
Judge Rinder, legal expert
Judge Rinder has advice for a reader who has issues with a new property
‘Safeguarding a vulnerable child, I ended up with a parking ticket. Now council is threatening court action’
Q) I HAVE received a parking fine while in my work’s company car. I was parked for a matter of minutes, as I had to safeguard a child I was looking after. I work in a home for children with behavioural problems due to being abused.
This particular day the young girl I was out with became agitated and threatened to jump out of the car. I pulled into a safe space and she got out. I followed and managed to calm her down and we returned to the car.
I have explained this and appealed the charge but they won’t budge and I’m now being threatened with court. It’s almost £100. What should I do?
A) Controlled parking zones are governed by strictly applied rules. However, the council had the legal discretion to cancel your notice.
You now have the option to appeal and have strong evidence the situation you found yourself in was an emergency. This could be a defence which, I suspect, the parking appeal judge might be sympathetic to.
I am a little lost as to why your employer is not dealing with this on your behalf. Given the nature of your job, they really ought to be responsible for the full cost of the fine – whether you fight it or not – as this all happened while you were carrying out your work and you acted perfectly reasonably.
Get in touch with your line manager asking them to deal with this. If they refuse, I would make a formal complaint.
Whatever happens, use the parking appeals service to challenge the fine. It is straightforward and there are no costs made against you even if you don’t win.
Q) My partner died two weeks ago, after 25 years together. We bought a house together and have two teenage daughters yet I’ve been told I am not entitled to a widow’s pension as we weren’t married.
Is this true and is there anything that can be done?
A) As it currently stands you are not automatically entitled to a widow’s pension despite your circumstances because you were neither married nor in a civil partnership at the time your partner died.
I know that sounds unfair because in my view (and many other lawyers) it is. There is a dangerous misconception among people that there is a thing known as “common-law marriage”, which grants surviving partners legal rights. There is no such thing.
While pensions can be left to unmarried partners (or anybody named on a policy), state benefits do not automatically pass on to unmarried partners.
Although the law is against you in this case, there is a strong movement for the law to be changed and some believe that courts would decide a case like this in your favour.
There are a number of lawyers who would be interested in taking up your case on a pro bono basis as it may be argued, among other things, that you have been the subject of discrimination. Get in touch with a specialist lawyer as soon as possible. I know this might be tough but it’s important to you (and possibly millions of others) that you fight this.