HOME TRUTHS

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NEIGHBOURS FROM HELL

We're selling our house, which we think is perfect apart from our neighbours. Sunday afternoons, in particular, can be a nightmare with their swearing and loud music. If I am asked a direct question by a prospective buyer about their behaviour, what should I say?

D Jones

Surrey

You should answer honestly. If you do not disclose information relevant to the sale, there is a danger that you may be sued for misrepresentation. You have a liability, as the property seller, to give material facts about the property when solicitors make preliminary enquiries.

SHOULD I CUT AND RUN?

The last five years have been a bit disastrous for me, personally and financially, and I feel I need a fresh start. What should I do if I want to give up my house and hand back the keys?

J Elliott

Northampton

It is important that you contact your lender straight away to talk through all the issues before you do this. They have trained staff who can put forward options and tell you exactly what to do depending upon your decision.

You also have access to several independent bodies, such as the Citizens' Advice Bureau, for free and impartial advice. Before making such an important decision, get as much information and advice as you can.

However, your problems may not be solved just by giving up your house, and you may actually be storing up future trouble. If your lender agrees to a "voluntary repossession" you will be registered with credit reference agencies, and this will affect your future ability to borrow.

All personal items must be removed before repossession, and all utilities must be switched off. The property will be marketed as a repossessed property; this may result in a lower sale price. I would again stress that you should seek independent advice; this course of action would not normally be in your best interests.

MIRAS TIMES TWO

My property is proving hard to sell and I am worried the place I wish to buy will be snapped up if I do not move quickly. Will I be able to claim tax relief on two properties?

M Evans

London SW11

Tax relief may be available on two properties for up to 12 months, subject to the existing property being actively on the market. You must advise the Inland Revenue if the first property has not been sold at the end of the 12 months.

NOT ENTIRELY SEPARATED

My wife and I have a joint mortgage. We are separated and I have not lived at our house for the past 18 months, yet I still receive letters from our mortgage lender requesting payment of arrears and proposals for future payments. I have nothing to do with the house or mortgage payments, as it was agreed in court that the house should be transferred into my wife's sole name. How can I stop this?

Name and address supplied

The property may have been transferred into your wife's sole name, but the mortgage may not (known as a beneficial transfer). The courts cannot force a lender to transfer a mortgage into a sole name and it will only happen if the lender is happy that the remaining party, in this case your wife, can meet the payments on her own. As it is a joint mortgage, both parties will remain jointly and severally liable until the debt is repaid in full or one party is transferred off the mortgage. You need to get in touch with your mortgage lender and discuss the possibility of transferring the mortgage into your wife's name, and the costs involved.

George Wise is managing director of NatWest UK Mortgage Services.

Send your queries on practical property issues to: Home Truths, Travel & Money, 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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