The consumer team is here to solve your problem.
Mel Hunter will tackle readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will handle your legal issues.
Jane Hamilton, real estate expert
Smart Boxing for Bounce
The week between Gift Day and New Year’s Eve is the busiest time of the year for real estate portals – with online traffic up over 230% compared to weekdays.
If you are planning to move house, list your home this week to take advantage of “Gift Day”. Here are top tips to help sellers:
1) SN READY FOR SALE: Use this weekend to make your home shine. Fix any lingering DIY issues, wash windows and clean carpets and upholstery to freshen up every room.
2) SEE PICTURES OF YOUR LIST BEEN MADE: Remove the Christmas decorations just for the pictures, as you don’t want to date your online pictures. Ask your real estate agent to send a photographer at the best time for natural light.
3) BE SAVING WITH SEARCH TERMS: Do you have a home office, large garden, playroom or gym? The pandemic has pushed these search terms onto buyer wish lists, so make sure they make it to yours.
4) CREATE A LOT OF OUTSIDE SPACE: Whether a small balcony or a large acre of land, your outdoor space can be profitable. Remove dead leaves, prune overhanging plants and clear out clutter to make your garden look as large as possible.
5) CREATE CURB APPEARANCE: It’s harder to flaunt the exterior of a home in the winter, so make sure your home stands out. Pick up trash, clean or paint the front door, hide the wheelie bins and make your entryway look as cozy and inviting as possible.
6) ACTUAL PRICE: A competitive price can trigger offers higher than the asking price. Research similar homes for sale locally. If you top a particular band online, this can help you get ahead of searches.
Buy in the week
The Easton area of Bristol has been the market with the strongest sellers this year.
More than eight out of ten properties for sale here are marked as sold under contract, according to Rightmove.
Move to your suburbs with this trendy two-bed apartment on sale for £220,000 at rightmove.co.uk/properties/115610003.
Warmer than winter
The ultimate winter heater, a real heater, can also help you sell your home.
New research by GetAgent.co.uk shows that only 19% of properties currently for sale have fireplaces, but 71% of them are for sale.
“The fireplace is one of those features that can help attract potential buyers to buy,” says founder Colby Short.
Trading of the week
AFTER the color overload of 2021, monochrome is becoming the next big interior trend.
Try this check mat from Dunelm, £16 is now £11.20.
Judge Rinder, legal expert
”The husband kept working after six months of probation and no one said a word – now they say he didn’t pass”
Q) ON April 12 of this year my husband started a new job, under a permanent contract with a six-month probationary period.
Six months passed on October 12 with no mention of his stay or departure. My husband didn’t ask them, he just kept going to work.
On November 19, he was called into the office and told he had to leave immediately. They said they would pay him through November 23, with a letter written November 15 saying that after six months of probation, they found him unsuitable for the job.
When six months have passed about six weeks, can they do this? Or has he effectively passed the probationary period and should be considered a permanent employee? In that case, what should he do?
ONE) This may all depend on the wording of your husband’s employment contract. It may state (check carefully) that after the probationary period ends, he will be considered a full-time employee.
This is important because many employee rights (especially related to being fired) may not apply until a person has been with a company for at least two years.
In this case, your husband’s employer clearly hasn’t fired him in six months, so he could certainly be entitled to more than they offered him.
In addition to reviewing the agreement he signed, your husband should get some legal advice as quickly as possible, as hiring requirements have strict time limits.
I urge you to contact Citizens Advice or a Free Representative immediately.
Q) We are currently living in a park house, our house has been ten months.
We are planning to sell our house and the park rules say they get 10% of the sale.
The problem is that I still haven’t signed the contract, even though I have seen one.
Am I still legally bound to pay ten percent, even though no contract has been signed?
ONE) Assuming you’ve understood and understood the terms and conditions of buying and then selling this home, it’s likely that you haven’t signed the contract legally.
On the other hand, buying a house without completing the legal paperwork is extremely troublesome.
In the absence of signed documents, you could argue that you never agreed to this ten percent fee (which is why you didn’t sign the contract in the first place).
Following on from this, it’s certainly possible that you’ll have a decent argument for keeping the money.
I will write to the manager of the property company and make it clear that you do not intend to pay and invite them to provide you with a signed contract. This can prevent them from turning against you again. Be tough.
Q) MY motorbike, which was parked outside my house in my bay, was hit when the driver skipped over to pick it up.
The bike was not covered, as it was wrapped in the winter. The driver insists he didn’t hit the bike, but I have pictures and short video, as well as a witness. Can I claim against him?
ONE) You can of course make a claim against the bypass driver. By law, you should have insurance to cover your motorcycle if it’s on public roads (winter wrap or not).
The fact that you do not prevent you from suing. You have solid proof that the negligence of the passing driver caused damage to your bike and that’s all that really matters.
Write to the bypass driver (or the owner of his company) right away, making it absolutely clear that you intend to sue in a small claims court. If they ignore you, you may want to file a complaint yourself.
With the evidence you have, it sounds like you have a very good prospect of success.
Mel Hunter, Reader’s Champion
Please suspend the request
Q) I tested positive for Covid in September, after two serious illnesses in the hospital. As a result I had to cancel a vacation to Spain.
I applied for my AXA travel insurance for almost £1,000, AXA confirmed they received it. The message says I will get a response from it within five days.
Having heard nothing after ten days, I phoned it twice, took a total of 9 and a half hours in line without speaking to anyone.
I have sent two emails and have also left a voicemail with the promise that I will call back within 48 hours but I have not heard back.
I am grateful for anything you can do to resolve this complaint.
ONE) You say you spent 9 and a half hours holding the phone. In the same amount of time, you may have driven from your home to AXA headquarters in Paris to knock on the door. And it’s time to put in the spotlight.
Holding for such a long period of time is completely unacceptable, as I made it very clear to AXA, telling the insurance company it was one of the longest waiting times I’ve ever heard of – And I’ve heard a lot!
This made AXA popular and then it quickly processed your request, adding a £100 goodwill gesture.
AXA apologizes and says: “We have conducted a detailed review and acknowledge that on this occasion our claims service did not meet the high standards expected. We have now settled all claims and offered further compensation in recognition of this experience. “
Q) My wife and I booked a holiday to Ireland with Just Go travel last year, but it canceled it in July and offered us a £628 refund.
Just Go promised to send me a check that is expected to be mailed in early August.
After a few weeks, I called and was told that it was not only shipped, but cashed or paid.
I explained that I hadn’t received it yet, but the company insisted that they sent it.
Since then, even though I’ve sent five emails, I’ve been ignored.
Can you find out where to check?
ONE) For a few weeks after you contact us, we continue to play Hunt The Check.
Just Go claims it submitted it and therefore cannot reissue it. You claim you didn’t see it. It was something of a deadlock.
With pressing Just Go, I finally made progress.
Although it is still unclear where your check was sent, you have informed me that your bank has provided written confirmation that you have no funds.
After a couple of weeks, when I assumed Just Go was working on what happened, it sent another check and confirmed to me that this was resolved.
I needed a crystal ball to figure out what happened here, but I’m glad it’s resolved.
You were on the moon, and you made my day when you sent me a funny poem to say thank you.
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/17073141/six-ways-boxing-day-bounce/ Six ways for home sellers to prepare for ‘Gift Day’