Property Ombudsman conference postponed due to COVID 19

The Property Ombudsman has announced that it will postpone its annual conference, which was to have been on June 18, until next year.

In its place, TPO will be holding a Rightmove Webinar on the same morning.

Katrine Sporle, who retires as TPO later this year, says: “Given the circumstances affecting us all, we have decided to convert the conference in Solihull to a Rightmove Webinar to take place on the morning of June 18. We will provide updates, advice and interactive sessions to respond to agents’ questions and concerns.”

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TPO’s office says tickets already purchased will be credited towards the 2021 conference “when normal business resumes.”

Meanwhile a statement from the organisation says it’s business as normal at The Property Ombudsman, with many of its staff managing to work remotely to provide a normal service.

However, TPO says that the priority for agents is of course to ensure the welfare of their employees and advises: “Therefore, if services have to change and complaints cannot be dealt with in the usual way, agents should ensure this is communicated to complainants in writing.”

Should a complaint then be subsequently escalated to TPO, this will be taken into account.

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Struggling UK estate agency Countrywide in talks with LSL over a possible merger

Countrywide and LSL Property Services have said they are in talks over a possible merger which could create the UK’s largest estate agency.

The news comes after several years of losses at Countrywide and a difficult time for the sector.

Countrywide owns the Hamptons and Gascoigne-Pees brands while LSL owns Your Move and Reed Rains.

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The firms said that talks were ongoing, but there could be no certainty that an offer would ultimately be made.

If the merger talks – which were first reported by Sky News – lead to a deal, it will create a combined group worth about £470m with 14,000 employees.

Countrywide reported losses of £218m for 2018, compared with a £207m loss a year earlier, and it said last year that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit had been hitting business.

Recent surveys have suggested that the UK’s housing market is starting to pick up after a long period of sluggish activity.

Last month, a survey of property professionals reported an “uplift” in sentiment in the housing market following the general election.

Sales expectations had “risen sharply”, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said, with the number of house sales rising in December for the first time in seven months.

The most recent survey from the Halifax found the market continued “to show signs of improvement”.

The lender said it had seen “a pick-up in transactions with more buyer and seller activity consistent with a reduction in uncertainty in the UK”, although it added it was “too early to say if a corner has been turned”.

Source BBC News

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Using salvaged materials for your building project

Whatever type of building project you are preparing to undertake, it is always worth taking time to consider if there are any materials that can be salvaged for re-use, recycled or up-cycled.

As there are many types of building projects, there will also be many uses for material that you may initially believe would not be of any use to you. This is where you need to consider the building project as a whole and see what you have to buy in for the various stages and what you can salvage for re-use, recycle or up-cycled elsewhere.

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These projects could potentially involve using salvaged material:

  • Building an extension
  • Loft conversion
  • Refurbishment
  • Renovation
  • External works
  • Demolition
  • Building a new house

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Suspended mystery property with no access on sale for £100

A property has gone on the market for just £100, but it is shrouded in mystery as no-one knows how to get inside.

The 12sqm room is up for auction next month and comes with a flying freehold, as it has no structure beneath and is suspended in a passageway between two other buildings.

The room is in a row of historic buildings, some of which date back to the 16th century, but it appears to be sealed from both sides and there is no other access.

Victoria Reek, auction manager for William H Brown’s East Anglian auction centre, selling the room in Nene Quay, Wisbech, said it was one of the most unusual lots she had ever come across.

She told the Cambs Times: “There is no way in or out from the outside, we have been instructed to sell it and we’re starting the price off at £100.

“We think it would make an ideal store room for a market stall holder but it gives you no access rights, it really is just a room which at the moment, you can’t get into.

“We do come across all kinds of interesting lots like this in Norfolk but this is probably one of the most unusual.”

The room is being sold by Fenland District Council along with a number of other pieces of land, it has had in its portfolio for years.

The auction takes place on Thursday, February 20 at Dunston Hall Hotel in Norwich at 11.30am.

Source: Mirror

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What is Practical Completion in the building industry

The term ‘Practical Completion’ is a term use in the building industry at the end of a building project which is often open to interpretation. The issue of whether a building project has achieved practical completion has long been the source of many disputes within the building industry, both in the commercial sector and, in particular, the domestic sector.

Many standard form of Contract that are used in the building industry rely upon the issue of a Certificate of Practical Completion to trigger the release of funds at every completed stage or end of the project.

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Given the importance, the standard forms used throughout the industry do not define practical completion. They generally leave the matter to the discretion of the client, contract administrator, architect, engineer, supervising officer, etc. The Preparation of a comprehensive specification/scope of works is paramount to minimising the risks of misinterpretation, although the risks will never be fully removed.

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Practical completion of any part of the work should be seen as the work having been completed to a ‘set’ standard where the client can take possession of the works and use then as intended. It is important for both parties (client and contractor) to use common sense when agreeing on practical completion. On the one hand the contractor or builder should make every effort to complete the work to a satisfactory standard, and on the other the client should exercise some discretion on the finished product. That is not to say that poor standards should be accepted, but that some materials, such as bricks, timber, etc., can vary in colour or dimensions.

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Police arrest man for operating funeral service from home and remove coffins from property

A man has been arrested at a house in Blackley, Greater Manchester as neighbours witnessed police removing a number of coffins from the property.

Officers were called to Capricorn Road on Friday night to reports of suspicious circumstances.

A man in his 50s was arrested on suspicion of fraud and remains in custody for questioning.

A funeral service business which is registered to the house is listed online.

Police have not released any further details about the nature of the investigation.

Neighbours reported seeing a number of coffins being removed from the property and placed inside a private ambulance.

Footage seen by the Manchester Evening News shows two coffins being wheeled from the house on Saturday lunch time.

On Saturday night, a police car guarded the front of the property while detectives continued their enquiries.

A number of plain clothed officers were seen searching the house throughout the afternoon.

A funeral hearse can be seen in the driveway covered partly by tarpaulin.

Local residents say a private ambulance parked outside the house was taken away by police.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “Police were called at 8.45pm on Friday evening to reports of suspicious circumstances.

“Officers attended and arrested a man in his 50s on suspicion of fraud.

“He remains in police custody.

“A cordon is still in place.”

Source: Manchester Evening News

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HMRC: UK residential property transactions rise by over 6%

The number of residential property transactions rose by 6.2% from November to December, HMRC’s Property Transactions Statistics have shown.

There were 104,670 residential property transactions last month which is up 6.8% year-on-year.

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Similarly, the number of non-residential transactions increased by 13.4% from November and 0.8% from December 2018.

Gareth Lewis, commercial director or property lender MT Finance, said: “The back-end of the year saw an increase in activity and purchases after the general election as a lot of transactional flow held off until after the result was known.

“Estate agents and lenders were extremely busy as people were keen to get on with things.

“There is a positivity around transactions and market sentiment that we haven’t seen for a while – maybe we are seeing the green shoots of spring appear a little earlier than usual.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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