Property: Home Truths

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Miras changes

I understand that the rate of tax relief on my mortgage is to be reduced in April next year. Will this increase my monthly mortgage repayments?

P Miller


The reduction in mortgage interest tax relief (Miras) was announced in the July 1997 Budget. Miras will be reduced from 15 per cent to 10 per cent from April 1998, and will mean an increase in your payments. Miras is allowed on the first pounds 30,000 of a mortgage. So, for example, if you are currently receiving the full allowance and have an interest rate of 8.7 per cent, you will pay pounds 10.88 per month extra.

Direct debit dates

I have just moved jobs and the date I am now paid is a few days after my mortgage goes out. Can I change the date of the direct debit?

C McCallum


Most lenders will offer alternative dates for customers' direct debits. You should contact your lender and explain your new circumstances. They should be able to send you a new mandate so that you can change the date your mortgage is paid.

A flat no

A friend and I bought a two-bedroom flat in 1991 and agreed that when one of us decided to move the other would agree to sell the flat or buy the other out. Last year, I moved into my fiancee's house, and I have decided I want to sell my share of the flat.

My friend now says he is unwilling to sell the flat but can't afford to buy me out. Is there any way in which I can force the sale of the flat? And if so how do I go about starting the process?

T Jones


The most likely position is that you are both named as joint owners in the deeds to the flat. This means that the signatures of both of you will be needed to sell it. If your friend refuses you may be able to get a court order to force the sale. However, going to court is usually a slow, expensive process and should be a last resort.

Your next step should be to see a solicitor who will advise you on your specific circumstances.

Neighbour watch

I'm in the process of a buying a flat which will mean I'll have neighbours above and below. Is there any way I can find out what they are like and if they are noisy before I move in?

N Cooper


It is very important that you are totally satisfied with the flat you are buying. First, speak to the people who live in the flat at the moment, as they have a duty to tell you the truth about any trouble they have had with the neighbours. If they lie to you about this, you would have grounds to sue them under the terms of the Property Misdescriptions Act.

If you are still worried, why not ask the current owners if they get on well with the neighbours and whether they can introduce you? You should also try to visit the property at different times of the day to find out whether it is noisy.

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: sunday-property