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Police record

My girlfriend and I are thinking about buying our first home. The problem is that I have a police record from five years ago for a petty crime. Will this go against us when we apply for a mortgage?

Name and address supplied

A mortgage lender's primary concern will be that the borrower can comfortably afford the monthly mortgage payments over a long period of time. Mortgage lenders usually carry out a credit search which will highlight any county court judgments (CCJs) that have been registered against a named person, but as far as I am aware this does not cover criminal convictions, only financial irregularities such as outstanding debts or bankruptcy.

Playing a let

Our house is close to the Wimbledon tennis courts. This year, our holiday coincides with the Wimbledon fortnight so we have decided to let our property. Do we need to inform our mortgage lender?

J Lee, London SW19

Although you are not letting your property for a long period of time, you should still tell your mortgage lender. The lettings agency will draw up a tenancy agreement that you need to sign, as will the people who are going to rent your property. Your lender is likely to want to see a copy of the agreement to check that the clauses it feels are important are included.

Working at home

I have recently started my own company and work from home. I have been told that this will mean that my mortgage payments will increase. Is this correct and if so why?

Helen Robins, Doncaster

Your monthly mortgage payments could increase as your property is now being used for your business and not for residential purposes only. This means you could lose the tax relief you currently receive (Miras - mortgage interest relief at source). You should inform your mortgage lender of your new circumstance, and it will pass on the details to the Inland Revenue, which will then assess your entitlement to tax relief on mortgage payments.

Wallpaper worries

My girlfriend and I recently bought our first home and are about to decorate. This will be the first time I have wallpapered a room and I would like to get it right. Any suggestions?

K Vincent, Chipping Norton

A standard roll of wallpaper is 10.5m (33ft) long and 53cm (21in) wide, so by measuring between the skirting board and the ceiling you can work out how many full pieces of wallpaper you can get per roll. If you then measure around the room excluding windows and doors, you can calculate the number of rolls you will need. Keep your receipt so you can return any unopened rolls.

If you are putting up patterned wallpaper you will have to allow for a pattern drop, so that the pattern between the sheets of paper aligns. Good luck.

q George Wise is managing director of NatWest UK Mortgage Services.

q Send your queries on practical property issues to: Home Truths, 'Independent on Sunday', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL; fax 0171-293 2043; e- mail sundayproperty@independent.co.uk.

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