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.
Property expert with the best advice for your home
WHO lived in your home before you? BBC Two’s A House Through Time has sparked a wave of interest in people researching their home’s history.
Around three-quarters of our houses were built more than 40 years ago, 20 per cent are Edwardian – so most of us live in a pad with a story to tell.
To help, family history site FindMyPast.co.uk has launched a search page at findmypast.co.uk/maps.
The site’s Alex Cox says: “With millions of records online, anyone can turn detective and uncover the stories of former inhabitants.”
Here are his tips . . .
- Fact-finding: Get a rough idea of how old your house is and find out which administrative area it is in. You could also speak to neighbours about what they know.
- Owners or occupiers? Until about 1914, 90 per cent of all housing in Britain was privately rented. The occupant may not have been the owner so bear this in mind when examining records.
- Check numbers: Street names and numbers changed over time. Compare the location of your property with other buildings in the street to make sure you are looking at the right house.
- Dig out deeds: Title registers and deeds detail previous owners. Order them at gov.uk/get-information-about-property-and-land.
- Search the census and electoral roll: Complete censuses for England Wales from 1841 up to 1911 are easily accessible online.
- On the record: Tax, parish, court and probate records and maps are all accessible online.
- Was your house in the news? Old local newspapers are one of the most detailed sources you can look at. You may even find old photographs or sketches of the property or former residents.
- Local knowledge: Contact your local history society or join groups on social media.
Buy of the week
PENT-up demand for property viewings gave Rightmove its busiest day ever on May 27.
Top for searches was Wigan, where this swish detached, four-bedroom home will set you back just £180,000.
WICKES is the latest DIY store to launch a virtual design service.
The free consultations cover bathrooms and kitchens, with samples of paint and tiles sent out for customers to try in their homes.
The chain’s Mandy Minichiello said: “As lockdown eases and customers look for safer shopping alternatives, we hope the new service will provide choice to those who want to start the process from home.”
Deal of the week
WHILE the nation waits for the pubs to reopen, enjoy your drinks in a trendy garden bar.
This space-saving wood bar-and-stools set is just £220 at Argos – one of the best on the market for the price.
SAVE: £100 on similar styles elsewhere.
The Sun’s legal expert
Q) A CLOSE friend recently passed away, leaving behind his bulldog Harvey. My friend always said that if anything happen to him, he wanted me to take Harvey, which I was happy to agree to.
However, on finding my friend dead at home, the police took Harvey to an animal rescue centre. I contacted the centre and explained. They said they would have to assess my circumstances to see if I met their requirements.
But then I heard that Harvey had already been adopted elsewhere. I am distraught at this and want Harvey to live with me, as my friend wished.
My friend is survived by his wife, from whom he was separated, and she was under the impression that Harvey was living with me already. So she never queried his whereabouts. She also believes Harvey should be with me. What can I do?
A) As the owner of a much-loved bulldog myself, I really do understand how upset you must be.
The problem is that unless your late friend left specific instructions about what was to happen to Harvey in his will, the animal shelter was almost certainly legally entitled to re-home the dog according to its rules.
If you had something in writing with your late friend, you could in theory bring a claim against the shelter. But that would be complicated and expensive.
As awful as it must feel, it seems to me you will have to take comfort knowing Harvey has gone to a good home, that this wasn’t your fault and you did your very best.
Son got boot
Q) MY 23-year-old son was made redundant without warning. His employer blames Covid-19.
He was with the company for three years but was not offered so much as a meeting. His employer won’t respond to emails. Does he have some rights?
Helen, Milton Keynes
A) Your son has legal rights because he has worked for this firm for more than two years.
If the business is closing (or your son’s part of it) there is probably little that can be done other than to ensure he receives the correct amount of redundancy money he is legally entitled to.
If your son appears to have been selected for redundancy while others still remain employed, the company must explain the method it used to get rid of your son, proving it was fair and did not discriminate against him.
If it does not, I would urge your son to email the company demanding a full explanation, making clear that he will be obtaining legal advice. Citizens Advice can help.
Q) WE have rented our house for seven years from a private landlord. We came down one morning and saw the glass in the patio door had shattered.
We don’t know how but it looks like it has been shot with an air gun. I know our landlord will blame us but it was nothing to do with us. I want to know who is responsible for repairing the glass.
We have always paid our rent, have never been in arrears and treat the house like our own home.
A) You need to check your rental agreement with care but in all likelihood, your landlord is responsible for the window because the damage caused wasn’t your fault.
You will need to have some evidence to prove this. You might want to report the matter to the police, which would generate a crime number and could assist you if your landlord attempts to withhold some of your deposit.
You might also have an additional legal point in this situation. Your landlord has an obligation to ensure the conditions in your home are safe.
Your home is not safe at the moment because the integrity of a large glass panel appears to have been compromised.
I would urge you to write to your landlord making this clear and request that the window is fixed as soon as possible.
Readers’ champion on fighting for your rights
Q) WE went to the Currys PC World in North Shields to buy a Shark vacuum cleaner. I paid £299 on my credit card and the store said it would take up to four weeks to arrive.
By then my old vaccum had packed up. I went to the store and was told they were expecting a delivery a week later. Then the shop closed for lockdown, so I emailed and got an automatic reply saying my email was important to them.
So important that, weeks later, I haven’t heard anything. They have had my money for ages and I have nothing to show for it.
Paul Watson, Newcastle upon Tyne
A) The quest for your Shark vacuum cleaner led you through some choppy waters. Ordinarily you’d be able to borrow a family member’s vacuum but lockdown made that impossible.
The timing also meant you couldn’t get answers in store and all attempts to contact Currys customer services failed.
The store had your money, but its poor customer service left you in the dark for more than two months. I got on to the retailer, which told me the model you’d ordered still wasn’t available.
But it immediately gave you the option to choose another vaccum online, and agreed to waive the extra £50 it cost.
You were glad but found it galling that it took me getting in touch for Currys to sit up and take notice. I couldn’t agree more.
A spokesman told me: “We have apologised to Mr Watson for the inconvenience caused and the time it took to resolve this matter.”
Got a question?
DO you have a consumer issue?
Q) OVER Christmas I went on a ten-day cruise but a wonderful trip was soured when I either lost my dress watch or had it stolen.
We claimed on the house insurance and since then have been led on a merry waltz of delaying tactics, passing the buck and general indifference.
I submitted all the requested details to the insurer, Hastings Direct, then had to do a phone interview.
Since then I have been asked various questions, in separate calls or emails, by Hastings and two other insurance companies.
I then received an email saying the claim has been referred back to the jeweller to offer us a replacement for the watch. But again, there has been complete silence.
Karen Wheeler, Slough, Berks
A) You’d been waiting three months when you contacted me, and I left it another two weeks to give Hastings Direct time to sort things out.
With no further progress I gave the insurer a prod – and less than 24 hours later you finally got your £1,500 claim sorted, along with the £100 excess waived as a gesture of goodwill.
A spokesman for Hastings Direct told me: “Unfortunately, due to some issues with the valuation of Ms Wheeler’s watch, settlement of the claim was delayed, for which we apologise.
“However, we are pleased to confirm the claim is now settled.”
Coupon Queen finding you the best bargains
MY top five freebies this week:
- Fairy Platinum Plus three-tablet sample from Super Savvy Me. See bit.ly/freefairy3. Limited stock.
- Clinique Beyond Perfecting foundation ten-day sample. Download voucher at bit.ly/cliniquefreebeyond and collect in store when counters reopen.
- Movie rental of Just Mercy from Microsoft until June 28. Watch on Windows or Xbox. See bit.ly/justmercyfree.
- Ten-point car check from Halfords, includes lights, wipers, coolant, screen wash, oil, windscreen and tyres. Book at bit.ly/halfordsroadready.
- St John Ambulance baby first aid guide. Limited stock. See bit.ly/babyfirstaidsja.
My ten best deals this week:
- Get 20 per cent off Under Armour orders with vouchercodes.co.uk until tomorrow. See bit.ly/under20vc.
- Save 40 per cent on BoohooMAN orders until tomorrow. See bit.ly/boohooman40.
- Get 20 per cent off at Sports Direct with code SUMMER20 until July 31. Not valid in store. See bit.ly/sportsdirect20.
- Save £5 on ProBikeKit orders over £50 until June 14. Or get ten cent off ten top bike brands with code 10OFF10 until 9am on Monday. See bit.ly/10off10bike.
- Get 20 per cent off Outlet orders from House of Fraser with code EXTRA20 until June 15. Not valid in store or with any other promotion. See bit.ly/houseoffraser20outlet.
- Ten per cent off orders over £50 at shopDisney using vouchercloud. com code ALADDIN10 at checkout until Monday. See bit.ly/shopdisney15.
- Get £10 off orders over £50 – and free discreet delivery with adult retailer Lovehoney, until June 21. See bit.ly/lovehoney1050.
- Save 25 per cent on Vistaprint orders with code FATHERSDAY until June 21. See bit.ly/vistaprint25off.
- NHS workers get 30 per cent off Shoeaholics orders until June 30 with vouchercodes.co.uk. See bit.ly/shoeholics30nhs.
- Get £10 off orders over £75 at Fragrance Direct with code SAVE10 from vouchercloud.com. Expires tomorrow. See bit.ly/10fragrancedirect.
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