Property: HOME TRUTHS

Be there, pay here

My girlfriend and I are going to work abroad for a year. We want to keep our home, but how do we make mortgage payments from abroad?

Mr G Robson, Folkestone

There is no problem if you move abroad for a year and keep your property, as long as you continue to meet your mortgage payments. You will need to arrange for money to be transferred to a bank or building society account in the UK from abroad: they can give you information on this.

Consider who will look after your property while you are away. If you rent it out you will need to tell your lender.

Double Miras

My wife and I have bought a house and are still selling our old home. We've been told that we can receive tax benefits on both properties for a year. Is this correct?

Dai Liddelow, West Midlands.

You can receive Miras (Mortgage Interest Relief At Source) on two properties if your old home is advertised for sale and remains on the market. Miras can be claimed for up to 12 months. Contact your mortgage lender for further advice.

Cover for away-days

I have won a contract that will require me to work in Newcastle upon Tyne for four months. The only option is to live there in B&B accommodation. Because I won't be living at home, is my insurance cover valid?

I Hobbs, Hampshire

You will need to refer to your policy documents, which should clarify the situation. With most buildings and contents policies, if the property is unoccupied for 30 consecutive days (60 days on some policies) certain sections of the cover are excluded.

Most policies will state that the gas, electricity and water supplies should be turned off at the mains and all water pipes and apparatus drained. Someone should visit at least every 10 days, and all money and valuables must be removed. Your home may also not be covered for loss or damage by vandalism, water damage or theft.

Read the conditions of your insurance, or contact your insurers who will help you arrange the best cover possible.

Mission: possible

My wife and I want to buy our first home, but we are both in the armed forces and have no credit history. We may be away for long periods and need to rent our home out. Will these factors count against us?

ID Evans, Hampshire

Lenders will not turn you down for a mortgage because you have no credit history. As far as I am aware, most lenders offer set guidelines for those who are in the armed forces which take into account the fact that you may be away at times. Ask several lenders for the mortgage guidelines they offer service personnel so you can find the best deal for your circumstances.

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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