March 2023

Newsletter

It’s good to talk

Generally in life, if you’re struggling with something, the best thing you can do is talk to someone. The same can also be recommended if you find yourself struggling to pay your mortgage – speak to your lender or your mortgage adviser as soon as you can.

We are here to help listen to your exact situation and are ready to offer advice and guidance based on your circumstances, with the aim to help you through what can be a very stressful and challenging time, especially as the Cost of Living crisis rumbles on.

Never have any fear of reaching out if you think you may be in trouble, or just unsure of what the future holds. What’s more, the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has recently set out updated guidance on how it expects mortgage lenders to treat their customers when they are unable to pay their mortgages.

There are a variety of tools and options that lenders can use to support customers in difference circumstances. These can include options such as extending the term of the mortgage, switching to interest only for a temporary period, moving to a different interest rate or making reduced monthly payments for a temporary period1.

At the same time, it’s worth bearing in mind that making changes, even temporary ones, may result in higher monthly payments in future or paying back more overall. Mortgage borrowers should consider carefully any steps they take and customers who can keep up with their payments should continue to do so.

For this reason, whilst you should speak to your lender, we also recommend contacting us at the same time to talk through anything related to your mortgage, your monthly payments or even if you are concerned how you could be affected if rates were to rise further – we are here to help. We will be able to look at your specific circumstances, explain everything that you need to know and help you make decisions that are the most appropriate for you.

YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE

Source

  1. Financial Conduct Authority (2023). FCA confirms help for mortgage borrowers struggling with payments. Available at: https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-confirms-help-mortgage-borrowers-struggling-payments (Accessed 27 March 2023)

All the information in this article is correct as of the publish date 30th March 2023. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. The information provided in this article, including text, graphics and images does not, and is not intended to, substitute advice; instead, all information, content and materials available in this article are for general informational purposes only. Information in this article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.

How to right financial wrongs

If you have ever been in a position where something you have bought or a service you have experienced was not up to the standard you expected, as a consumer, you have rights. When buying goods and services, you’re protected by The Consumer Rights Act 2015. Here are some of the things you are protected against:

  • Faulty goods.
  • Poor service.
  • Problems with contracts.

You are entitled to expect a replacement or your money back if goods you have bought are not working. Many of us are not good at making a complaint and some sellers don’t make it easy for unsatisfied customers, especially if you have bought something online. They rely partly on customer inertia and also by drawing out the process for resolution.

Poor service is more difficult to resolve. Successful resolution relies on making sure there is enough evidence and it is important to keep a full record of calls, emails and letters to back up your case.

However, the first thing to do is to put the wheels in motion by logging a complaint with your provider. Your provider should have a formal complaint process that you can request a copy of. Often, you can find it on their website. You need to follow the company’s complaint process to give them an opportunity to fix any issue.

If you are not getting the result you expect, you can :-

  • Contact the Ombudsman Service (www.ombudsman-services.org) which can assess your case and advise on your next course of action, especially if it is about your treatment by energy suppliers.
  • Contact the Citizens Advice consumer service (www.citizensadvice.org.uk) which provides free and independent advice about your consumer rights at any point during your complaint.
  • Alternatively, you can make use of the County Court if you have a case against a provider and you are not getting financial satisfaction. (https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money)

A recent example was of the man who successfully won a case against airline Wizz Air when his flight had been cancelled on the day of travel and had cost him thousands of pounds to replace with another airline. He went to the County Court and was awarded the money he was owed plus interest. Bailiffs actually went to Luton Airport to enforce the award and made sure the money was paid1.

Sources

  1. BBC (2023) Man sent baliffs to Luton Airport for Wizz Air refund. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-64999557 (Accessed 28 March 2023

Do you know what to do if your phone or bank and credit cards are stolen?

Have you ever lost a purse or wallet, or worse still, had one stolen? It can happen to anyone and is more common than you might expect. In today’s world where many of us don’t carry cash, thieves targeting credit cards, debit cards and mobile phones can cause havoc with your finances in a very short time.

Apart from the loss and potential for identity theft, it is also a stressful situation for the victim. We have all got that sinking gut feeling when we can’t find a wallet or purse and the massive relief when it turns up where we left it! But when you have exhausted all of the options as to where it was put, what do you do?

Contact your bank, building society or credit card issuer to notify that it’s lost or stolen as soon as you can. They will freeze the card and cancel it immediately to prevent additional transactions taking place.

Upon reporting the stolen card, your bank or credit card issuer will carry out a fraud investigation and refund any money lost as part of the process.

In this age of contactless card transactions, it is easy for thieves to make a flurry of smaller transactions immediately after taking your card, so it pays to be vigilant and check your card statements thoroughly for any transactions that you do not recognise, and report these to your card issuer at the earliest opportunity in order to be reimbursed. As a general tip, it’s worth being mindful of the number of cards you are carrying about your person, this will make it easier to identify if one or more has been stolen or lost, and have the key contact details of your bank or credit card issuer to hand should the worst happen and you need to get in touch to report a stolen card.

Spring Cleaning Tips to Help Sell Your Home

It’s getting to that time of year when the weather is starting to improve, Spring is in the air and you may be thinking about moving home in the months ahead. We’ve put together some helpful tips on simple Spring cleaning tasks that may make a big difference in helping your home sell quickly.

Clean and de-clutter everywhere
It might sound basic, but a clean home can make a big difference when it comes to appealing to your potential buyers. Give your place a thorough clean for best results – wash walls, clean behind furniture, clean your paintwork and the windows. It’s also an opportunity to think twice about what you actually need and take the moment to donate any unwanted items to charity shops, or recycle what you can’t use.

Apply a coat of fresh paint
Kerb appeal is everything, when it comes to setting those important first impressions for potential purchasers. Some simple maintenance here can make all the difference – if your front door or garage door needs a makeover, then it’s the ideal time to do it. Similarly, paint any window sills that have flaking paint and bring them back to new condition.

Whilst the painting gear is out – look around elsewhere inside to see if anything else can be freshened up too. It’s a commonly-advised topic, but painting over brightly-coloured decoration with more neutral tones does help to present prospective buyers with a blank canvas that they can imagine themselves in.

Give your bathroom and kitchen a makeover
Bathrooms and kitchens can really sell a home – so try and focus your energy on making these look tip top. Firstly, look to de-clutter each room, and give each a deep-clean to really give the effect that they are almost new. This includes cleaning the grouting between tiles, cleaning the inside of each kitchen cupboard, and even as basic as cleaning the oven prior to prospective purchasers visiting – it all helps present your home in the best possible light.

Thoroughly clean all carpets and floors
Consider deep-cleaning your carpets and floors to remove any noticeable stains, and bring them back to their original condition. It may prove easier to bring in a professional cleaning team with specialised tools for certain types of flooring.

Tackle all the DIY jobs
If there’s a small DIY job that’s been nagging for a while – get it done! It may be something extremely simple, but a broken door handle or lightbulb that needs replacement can give buyers the idea that you don’t care for your home, so be sure to dedicate a few hours to fixing up the little tasks in order to reap the rewards later on.

Create a home office
With hybrid working being commonplace in 2023, a home office space is a valuable commodity, and so do try and showcase this feature where you can. Add a desk, adequate light and a smart-looking plant to bring out the best and show your potential buyers how they could easily fit in working from home.

Spring clean the outdoors
If your home has a garden, then this will certainly add to the value – ensure that it’s tidy and shows potential buyers the opportunity for this space, whether it’s growing plants, a nicely-mowed lawn or weeding the patio area to show there’s space for a BBQ, the possibilities are endless.

It’s an ideal time to sort out the garage too – chances are like many these days, if you have a garage, it’s more likely to be storing junk than a motor vehicle. Sort though the clutter and get rid of what you don’t need. Clear as much floor space as possible to show potential buyers what they can do with the space, and the storage options available.

Similarly, if you have any outbuildings, sheds, cabins, or home-bars – then give these a spring clean and just show the possibilities that they can offer buyers.

Make your house smell attractive
Smell is a much under-rated sense and one that can be used to great effect. Make sure your home gets plenty of fresh air with a daily airing and invest in some air fresheners with the same fragrance to dot around your home, but take care not to go over the top and give a pleasant welcoming smell for prospective buyers.

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