NEWS: Cameron's next move
Well, who saw that election result coming? Certainly not the pollsters and probably not even David Cameron himself. Yet he's installed in Number 10 for a further five years — and with a small majority this time. That, in many ways, was the easy bit, however: now the Prime Minister has to make good on the Conservative's manifesto pledges.
This includes building 200,000 new starter homes for first-time buyers under 40 by 2020, extending the Help to Buy loans scheme, introducing a Help to Buy ISA, plus creating a brownfield fund to “unlock homes’ on brownfield sites. Labour's promise/threat (delete depending on your political affiliation) of a mansion tax went with Ed Miliband's defeat.
With David Cameron in charge again some commentators believe that the rental market is likely to strengthen — so good news for landlords. But what about renters? Unlike Labour, the Conservatives aren't promising three-year tenancies and a ban on unfair lettings fees.
Transform your garden!
Gravelled or paved front gardens make life easier for homeowners and, let's face it, can give a bit of much-needed kerb appeal to your property — not to mention a bigger space to park the car. Yet our obsession with paving might be causing a problem according to a recent poll from the Royal Horticultural Society, which shows that 15 square miles of front garden have been paved over in the last 10 years.
The RHS says that garden plants and trees intercept intense rain, slowing run off and reducing pressure on drains, especially during summer storms; and that a 10% increase in vegetation would help control the summertime air temperature rises predicted with climate change. So, at last month's Chelsea Flower Show, garden designer Sean Murray — winner of the BBC's Great Chelsea Garden Challenge — unveiled a design that showed how a front garden can still be packed with plants and foliage, yet still have room for a car.
“We can all make our streets greener and better places to live and take action against this growing concrete jungle,” says Joe Swift, BBC presenter of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. “There are 7.24 million front gardens that are mostly paved. It’s time to get gardening. We can all make difference, from window boxes to tree planting.”
Advice from the RHS is to plant in the corners of your front garden where you don't park the car; use climbers and wall shrubs (which will also insulate your home, saving on heating bills); grow a hedge to filter out dust pollution to help you breath more easily and provide a home for wildlife; and plant in containers if you don't have soil.
A moving problem
The day of your move has arrived. So are you ready to go? Anthony Ward-Thomas, from the London removals firm of the same name, has some tips when it comes to listing and separating your belongings. First, list your main possessions, appliances, large furniture, etc, and have a clear idea of where they will be going in your new home. Then, says Anthony, label items if they are going into storage, being sold or thrown away — and if you can colour code these different destinations, that will help. If you want to have an exact list of what is in each box, number the box and write a list on paper with that number as a reference; plus, don't forget the small 'survival kit' (tea, toothbrushes, etc) you'll need when everything else has been packed away. If you have any queries about moving house, don't forget to ask your estate agent.
What's the secret to a friendly, happy relationship between tenants and landlords? Good communication, of course — because if a tenant can't get hold of their landlord, or vice versa, that's a recipe for frustration and, in certain situations, bitterness.
Put simply, you need to talk.
If you're a landlord, let your tenants know the best times and ways to contact you; then follow through and make sure you're accessible — and responsive to their needs — during those periods. If a tenant thinks their landlord is stalling over repairs or is uninterested in their situation, don't be surprised if they start playing hard to get with you… or the rent. Good communication also means setting out from the start what your responsibilities are as a landlord, and what theirs are as a tenant.
The golden rule is: when everybody's talking, everybody is (generally) happy…