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Emma Reynolds visits the block of flats in Walsall, where she used to lived with her mother

Sell off land so people can build their own homes, says Labour minister

Shadow housing minister will challenge power of councils and developers to help self-build projects

Mike Penn’s sleek home and its up-to-the-minute interiors sit behind a mews entrance in Fitzrovia

Smart shades of grey

Inspired by New York lofts, photographer Mike Penn turned a central London office into a cool urban living space and created the perfect backdrop to hang his pictures

It's a fix: when Simon Read saw his bill for roof repairs, he felt he was being overcharged

The day I took on the tradesmen's guild

When Simon Read, The Independent's personal finance editor, hired a roofer to repair storm damage, he was shocked to see that half the bill consisted of travel time. So he wrote about it – and all hell was let loose

Promised Land: Letchworth, Herfordshire (pictured above in 1912), is one of only two true garden cities built in England

Why garden cities are streets ahead

As George Osborne plans a new garden city at Ebbsfleet, Sarah Rutherford hopes he'll remember the progressive ideals upon which these urban utopias were founded

Jason Lynn with Ricky the Standard Poodle, as they celebrate winning the Best in Show category of Crufts during the final day at Crufts Dog Show on 9 March 2014 in Birmingham, England

Crufts Best-in-Show: Ricky the poodle really is the top dog

Ricky the poodle won the world’s biggest dog show prize after being named Best-in-Show at Crufts from more than 21,000 entrants.

Jim Blackender, pictured in front of his prefab in July 2009, was the leader of a fight to save the prefabs from demolition. He now lives in Kent; his prefab home is now boarded up

Prefabs in peril: Britain's largest remaining estate of the postwar homes is under threat

They were built to last only 10 years. Seven decades on, the 187 homes of Britain's largest remaining prefab estate stand strong. But now the local council is set on demolition – so one photographer has given the residents the least their extraordinary homes deserve: a museum

Safe as houses? Sir Peter Bottomley says there is a growing political will to protect leaseholders

Our campaign for the rights of leaseholders may lead to a new law

Readers, property professionals and MPs back Independent on Sunday drive to legislate against dodgy practices that ensnare homeowners

Phone home: The first house bought on a mobile using the Barclays Pingit app

Buying your home with a mobile phone

Technology is an unavoidable part of the property market, but Barclays and auctioneer Savills have taken it a step further, says Chiara Cavaglieri

Snowball effect: The birthplace of the Games can claim its own legacy as investor interest increases

Buying into winter wonderlands is more than a game

With Sochi under way, Richard Way looks at Chamonix, in the French Alps, where the first Winter Olympics were held in 1924

Rural campaigners and lobbying groups obstruct the construction of new housing on Britain's 'green belt'

Britain is suffering from a housing crisis - who is to blame and how can we fix it?

The Independent's economics editor Ben Chu rates the possible culprits and touted solutions and asks how likely they are to help us get through this mess…

The young ones: Tenancies are often arranged early and collection of rent can be easily arranged

If you want to let to students, then do your homework

The sector provides a steady income that is immune to economic shocks – as long as your property is in the right place. Chiara Cavaglieri reports

Long road ahead: A surge in car sales appears to have been driven, in part, by payouts on PPI claims. When these stop, will the brakes be applied?

Julian Knight: Join our campaign to stop the fleecing of leaseholders

Greedy managing agents have been charging too much for too long for routine repairs

Windows of opportunity: commercial property funds are benefiting from high demand and limited supply

Commercial property has a good day at the office

Sector back in favour with investors as it 'wakes up' from economic nightmare

Murky waters: Insurance is one of the areas in which leaseholders can get a raw deal from managing agents

The secret of how to give your flat a new lease of life ...

Chiara Cavaglieri and Julian Knight explain how you can hit back against unfair service charges and high fees

Risk and rewards: Renovating a property can be profitable... but beware the pitfalls

Renovation, renovation, renovation: 2014 promises to be the year of the amateur developer

A booming property market has reopened the door for the return of a rare beast, writes Chiara Cavaglieri

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Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable