Property: Home truths

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Is a let the best bet?

I have been trying to sell my home for the last six months, with no success. The area I live in has a large concentration of students and the local letting agency tells me I'd have no problems in renting it out. Is it possible to let my current home and buy a new house?

DF, Southampton

You can rent out your current home and buy another property, providing you meet the lenders' criteria. Basically, this means you will need to be capable of meeting both mortgage payments in case your current property is not let, for example during the summer holidays.

Your lender will need to agree your proposal to rent your current property and may also wish to see a copy of the tenancy agreement to check that it protects you and your lender should anything go wrong - such as tenants leaving without paying or stealing items from your property.

There may be a fee charged for checking the agreement. I suggest you contact your current lender to discuss the best way forward.

Bovine cover

I have bought a property that backs on to a field of cows. Recently, one made a bid for freedom by knocking down the fence at the bottom of our garden and trampling across our garden. The farmer was very apologetic and paid for the fence to be repaired. However, I am curious to know whether an accident of this kind would be covered by our house insurance?

LS, Northampton.

This is an unusual situation. The majority of insurance companies would cover you by your building insurance, but you will need to look into it. It may be that you would be covered under accidental damage.

If your policy is not clear, call your insurance company and they will be able to tell you whether you are covered in such an event and, if not, what your best course of action would be.

Buying to rent

I have no mortgage on my current property and am interested in buying another house to rent out. Where can I find more information about this?

JR, Yorkshire.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla) introduced its buy-to-let scheme in 1996. Arla's panel consists of NatWest Mortgage Services, Capital Homeloans, Halifax Mortgage Services, Mortgage Express, Mortgage Trust, Paragon Mortgages and Woolwich Direct. Arla will give details of your nearest agent and the panel of lenders.

To receive further information you should call the Arla hotline on 01923 896555 between 9.00am and 5.30pm weekdays.

George Wise is managing director of NatWest UK Mortgage Services.

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

Home Truths is not intended to be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Readers are urged to take appropriate legal and tax advice.