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The Alex Goldstein Property Show (Part 12)

March 2017

In this month’s Alex Goldstein Property Show, Alex speaks to Matthew Jones, an expert on the law governing leaseholds and enfranchisement (buying a property’s freehold), and to James Tiffany from Skipton builders Roger Tiffany Limited, who shares some amazing tips on finding a good builder. Alex also reveals key advice to gain the planning permission you want for your property.

The Alex Goldstein Property Show (Part 12)

Alex: Welcome again to the “Alex Goldstein Property Show,” the number-one property show on Stray FM. We strive to solve your property queries and to put you in the fast lane when it comes to the UK property market. Amazing tips plus industry expert insight, that is what we’re all about. If you need that property hit, then connect with the Alex Goldstein social media accounts to get the best property advice whenever you need it.

Now, in this month’s show, we’re getting the inside track from Matthew Jones, a solicitor on leasehold reform, James Tiffany, an expert builder, plus tips about planning permission and a substance as toxic as asbestos. Lots to fit in so we’re straight on with it.

Male: Property news, with Alex Goldstein.

Woman: Stray FM.

Alex: This month, we’re talking about the power of word of mouth. Now, I happen to be going through my 2016 figures last weekend, and to my amazement, I found that 92% of my business came from word of mouth referrals. Now, I’m not blowing my own trumpet. Well, maybe I am, but that figure even took me by surprise, and then it got me thinking, “Why was it so high?” I was discussing it with Sarah, a previous client and marketing expert who said, “Well, look. There are three things that people value most: trust, communication, and above all, knowledge that you will do what you say you’re going to do. You have all of those nailed.”

Well, of course, I blushed at the compliment while secretly high-fiving myself under the table. But look, joking aside, she is spot on with those three things. I believe they should be sacrosanct, no matter what business you are in. It absolutely demonstrates that you care and have the needs of your client at the forefront of everything you do. I can bet you think of a dozen times when you’ve been let down in all those areas, the builders who go AWOL halfway through a project, the colleague who never responds to an email, customer services who say they’ll call you back, and then never do.

And, what do you do when you’re looking for a top-notch restaurant or need to find a good treatment for a job? You ask the people you know for help. As a result, you’re more likely to use that trade or service that has been recommended to you by a trusted source. Low risk, no hassle. Makes sense.

The power of these three things were demonstrated very clearly in a recent case of a client of mine who was trying to sell her home. Before I became involved, she was promised top service, marketing package by her previous agent. Through roof-tinted spectacles, she envisaged a world in which her house was being fought over by a queue of adoring buyers.

The first six weeks, they went really well, lots of viewings. The agent did a solid job of keeping in touch. But, when it hadn’t sold after eight weeks, it was as though the agent had vanished into thin air. So suddenly, she was the one chasing with the phone calls and the emails, and it made her feel like a nuisance.

Thankfully, a friend of hers recommended me and we quickly got to grips with the situation, upgrading photography, overhauling the whole brochure, marketing strategy, online entries, viewing arrangements etc. We re-launched the property with renewed vigor. The agent, delighted to have some additional ideas from a property consultant who has 15 years of experience plus an increase in client contact.

As a result, in five weeks of the re-launch, we’ve secured the buyer. Clients obviously delighted, agent back on the right terms with refreshed enthusiasm, and myself keeping a proactive check on progress. However, underlying problem lies where everything had gone amiss previously. The client told her friend, who mentioned it to another on Facebook, who then shared a post about it. Like a virus, the bad experience had been disseminated across hundreds of people within minutes. Whereas the end result was good, the damage had already been done.

As I said, one should never lose sight of the power of word of mouth, whether in business yourself, or client looking for a good product or service. A good reputation can take years to earn, but only a moment to lose.

Great to be joined in the studio by Matthew Jones from LCF Law in Bradford. Matthew, thanks very much for coming in. The department you are part of is the Lease Extension and Enfranchisement team. Can you actually just talk everyone through because again, these are these buzz words that get thrown around fairly readily, but no one actually understands it. Talk us through.

Matthew: Yeah, sure, Alex. I work at LCF Law, as you say, in the Lease Extension Enfranchisement Department. What that effectively is, lease extensions are when tenants want to extend their lease, which they can do under legislation. Enfranchisement is when tenants want to collectively buy the freehold. That’s it in a nutshell. I mean, there is more detail, too, there which I’m sure will come on to.

Alex: And what, again, is part of that? You’ve got the Leasehold Reform Act, what does that encompass, and what does it actually mean?

Matthew: The Act basically allows a leaseholder to extend their lease by an additional 90 years, providing certain criteria on that. The main one is that they’ve owned the property for two years or more. Now, they have to pay a premium for this, and what they get is a new lease on the same terms, and no ground rent. So that’s the lease extension element.

Now, the enfranchisement side of it, that, as I said before, allows a group of tenants in a building to join together and buy the freehold, so the actual building in which those flats are located, and that’s the rights granted under Act.

Alex: Yeah. And, talk everyone…because we slightly skipped over it, but talk everyone through freehold property versus leasehold property, and if you’ve got a leasehold property then, as you said, the class is more of a tenant rather than an owner. Just talk everyone through the actual basic differences on that because again, I think it’s commonly misunderstood.

Matthew: Yes, it is. It’s something that, you know, we get asked quite regularly. We’ll take leaseholder. Basically, what that means is that you have your property on a lease for a set term. So, for instance, in flats, that could be 90 years, 150 years, even 999 years, but there’s a set start date and an end date. For a freehold, you own that property indefinitely, until you part with it either through sale, or you lose it by some other means, for instance, the bank claimed it back, or something like that.

Alex: And, you mentioned there sort of a long lease, 999 years. Some people say, “Well, that’s as good as freehold.” Is that still the case nowadays?

Matthew: I mean, no one’s gonna live that long to see it through to [inaudible 00:06:56].

Alex: You never know [inaudible 00:06:58].

Matthew: It’s always better to have the freehold. It really is, because at the end of the day, even though you may have a 999 year lease, with a lease comes certain restrictions, so you have to comply with certain requirements. So say, if you owned a flat, that lease that you have will say that…I don’t know, for instance, if you’ve got a balcony, you can’t put washing out on that balcony, or you can’t play music after a certain time, things like that.

Alex: And I guess this also comes into pets as well.

Matthew: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, if you were a big fan of, you know, hoarding [SP] iguanas or something like that, then there might be a restriction preventing that, dogs, cats, anything can be put into that list.

Alex: Got you. So basically, if you own the freehold, you’re in charge effectively of your own destiny…

Matthew: Absolutely.

Alex: …rather than being a leaseholder. So talk us through the structure. If I’m a tenant and a lease holder, I own the apartment under a lease, you then got a freeholder above us, how does that actually work, that actual structure?

Matthew: So what you will have, you will have the freeholder who owns the building, the large building where all the flats are located. He will then grant individual leases to the tenants. Sometimes you can have a scenario where there’s a management company, so you’ll have a lease from the freeholder to the management company, and then the management company will then grant further leases to the individual tenants. So, it can get quite complicated.

Alex: That’s gonna be complicated quite quickly, doesn’t it? And I mean, everyone talks about the number of years left on your lease. Why is that important? What numbers should people look out for, and why?

Matthew: Right. Well, anything around 90 years or less, I’d say that you really need to start thinking about extending that lease.

Alex: Is that extending the lease by the 90-year element?

Matthew: Yes, you can absolutely…

Alex: Can you ever do more than the 90 years?

Matthew: You can, in certain instances. What you can do…under the Act, you are allowed an extension for 90 years.

Alex: As the minimum?

Matthew: That’s it. That’s what you’re allowed under the Act that we referred to earlier. You can, in certain instances. If you’ve got a very good relationship with your freeholder or your landlord, you can look to extend it for longer. If, for instance, as we mentioned earlier with the enfranchisement where collectively the tenants on the freehold, you can look to extend to 999 years because you own it together.

Alex: And how does it work when people you hear that they want to buy the property? They’re a leaseholder at the moment, they then…to gearing up, and they actually want to buy out the freeholder. How does that sort of things work?

Matthew: Yes. Well, how that works…I mean, the first thing, and I can’t stress this enough, is that they need to instruct a specialist solicitor to do it because it’s a very complicated area of law. It really is. Quite often you see, you know, people who’ve instructed the local solicitor, the family solicitor, and it goes wrong. The first step obviously, once they’ve done that, is they need to get a valuation, and again, there are specialist surveyors and valuers out there who can do that for them.

Alex: Just specifically because the fact it’s as a leasehold property, not as of a building survey necessarily or anything like that.

Matthew: It’s because of the Act, and there are special calculations that need to be worked out. I’m not okay [SP] with that simply because it serves specialists, and as solicitors, we can’t advise on those kind of things. It’s something that the surveyor would do. Once that’s done, they obviously need to see who’s interested in collectively buying that freehold. Once they’ve done that, usually you’ll set up a company to acquire that freehold. Then formal notice is served on the landlords, the freeholder, and provided they accept the right, then effectively it’s a conveyance, so a sale or purchase…

Alex: Transaction.

Matthew: Yeah, transaction to acquire that freehold.

Alex: And does the freeholder always have to sell? Are there any circumstances whereby the leaseholders collectively or singularly approach the freeholder, and say, “We want to buy this?” And where do the rights lie? Where does the law actually reside, or it’s up to negotiations?

Matthew: That’s why it’s very important, as I said, to instruct a specialist because there are certain criteria involved. That’s why the investigation stage is so important. So, when those tenants come to myself, come to our team, it’s very important for us to do those investigations thoroughly. And that’s looking at the Act, looking at the requirements, seeing the individual tenants, their leases, things like that, and then saying, “Right. Yes, we can go ahead and do this. You qualify under the Act. We’ll get notice served to you.”

Alex: And why is it beneficial? I know when we talked about extending the lease, and you said, “Well, look at the critical number Alex. It’s around 80 to 90 years left or remaining on the lease.” Why don’t I just sort of leave it ’till there are 5 to 10 years on the lease, and then I extend it for another 90? Why wouldn’t you play it like that?

Matthew: Simply because if it gets below the magic year which is effectively 80 years, once it gets below that then it’s gonna be even more expensive for you to extend that lease.

Alex: Why?

Matthew: Something called marriage value. Now, it’s very complicated. I’m not gonna bore you with the details because, you know, it will fry the noodles of the vast majority of people probably who are listening. But, once it gets below that magic line, then it becomes incredibly expensive to do so. Now, why you would want to extend your lease, clients come to us for a number of reasons. Firstly, they’re looking to sell perhaps their flat. Mortgage lenders, banks, they will want to see a long-term…

Alex: It’s low risk.

Matthew: Exactly. Another reason perhaps if people are looking to put their affairs in order, they’re coming up to retirement age or older, they want to make sure their beneficiaries have got no worries, basically, when they look to sell a flat as part of their estate.

Another reason, it protects the interest that you’ve got and the money that you’ve invested in that flat. You know, you want to make sure that you’ve got something that’s gonna just increase in value. You don’t want something that’s gonna depreciate.

Alex: Yeah, an asset. You want to ensure that your property remains an asset…

Matthew: Exactly.

Alex: …and that’s very important.

In terms of cost to be mindful of, obviously you’ve actually got, I suppose, the pure finances of actually sort of extending the lease or indeed looking to buy the freehold. You’ve obviously got your costs as well. Is there anything else one needs to be mindful of when going down this route at all?

Matthew: Yes. Obviously, as you say, there are your own solicitor’s costs. There will be your own surveyor’s costs for them carrying out the valuation. You will also have to bear in mind the premium that you’re paying, so you have to factor that into your budgeting. There’s also the landlord’s surveyors cost that you’ll have to pay.

Alex: Really?

Matthew: Yes, and also the landlord solicitors cost. But, they can only claim so much.

Alex: Okay, and I’ll envisage a lot of zeros, all of a sudden, but you’ve put my mind at rest.

Matthew: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And yeah, there’ll also be other things such as land registry fees, and if you’ve got a mortgage, your mortgage lender might have a charge for transferring that across.

Alex: So it’s actually quite an expensive thing to go through, probably?

Matthew: Can be, but it’s certainly worth it.

Alex: But, of course, there’s no stamp duty on that, is there, unless you’re buying the freehold?

Matthew: No. Basically, the stamp duty, you don’t have to worry about that if you’re extending the lease. So, as I said, the only things that you have to worry about are those I outlined earlier.

Alex: And what happens if you’re buying the freehold?

Matthew: If you’re buying the freehold again, no, you don’t need to worry about the SDLT, but you do have to worry about those costs and things that I mentioned earlier.

Alex: Okay, now it’s all in balance. So, Matthew, we’ve talked through if I’m a tenant and I’ve got the apartment under lease. What happens if it’s the other way round? How can you guys help, and it’s actually on the landlords at the end of the day?

Matthew: Yeah. I mean, we do have a number of clients who are landlords themselves, and what we can do is when tenants come to them with formal notice exercising their right to either extend their lease or collectively purchase the freehold, we can act for them, and see it from the other side and act from the landlord’s perspective. So, doing the investigations to see whether those tenants qualify. If they do, then we can work with the landlord effectively to make sure that they can get the best premium and things like that. Interestingly, we have won a number of awards acting for landlords and tenants alike.

Alex: Have you? Okay.

Matthew: Yeah, we’ve actually won the Young Professional Enfranchisement Lawyer of the Year. We were also nominated for the Regional Professional Enfranchisement Lawyer of the Year. Surprisingly, you know, there are awards for these things.

Alex: They are. Must have been a fan to that one.

Matthew: Not as glamorous perhaps as the Brits or the Oscars, but nevertheless, you know…

Alex: A close [inaudible 00:15:51].

Matthew: Absolutely.

Alex: Matthew, if anyone wants to sort of touch base with you when it comes to your lease extensions, the enfranchisement, or indeed the Leasehold Reform Act, how are people gonna best reach you?

Matthew: Well, the best thing is just pick up the phone. Our Bradford office is 0 1274 848800, so you can give them a call, and you can also email me at mjones@lcf.co.uk, and visit our website and go through that way as well.

Alex: Matthew, thanks so much. Some great tips and advice there.

Female: “The Property Hospital.” Stray FM.

Alex: “The Property Hospital” is all about me answering your property concerns and demystifying the process. This week, I’m taking a question from Adam who’s got this to say.

Adam: Alex, I want to put a good sized extension on the back of my ham [SP]. So I thought I’d just ring up the counsel and debate it with them. Is this the right thing to do?

Alex: Adam, interesting question here. Now look, the best advice I can give when it comes to planning permission is, “Never speak with a counsel until you’ve spoken with a professional.” Remember, as soon as you speak or indeed email them, everything’s on record. If you inadvertently rub them up the wrong way, you can have a serious struggle on your hands. So firstly, take your time. Speak with a reputable architect. Usually, they’re gonna be RIBA or equivalent qualification. Planning laws have changed very quickly in the last few years. Therefore, sometimes you can actually extend your property under what’s called permitted development. The architect is gonna advise you on this. And look, if it’s a more complicated case, say for example, you’re a listed building, or you’re in a conservation area, then you may need the expertise of a planning consultant. These are people who know the laws around the planning, whereas an architect effectively draws you the nice pretty pictures. Speak with the professionals, and if they give you the green light to speak with the counsel then go for it, albeit under their guidance. If you’re unsure about which architect or planning consultant to use, feel free to drop me a line.

Male: “The Property Hot Seat.” Stray FM.

Female: Stray FM.

Male: Name.

James: James Tiffany.

Male: Business.

James: Roger Tiffany Limited.

Male: Time in property.

James: I have been in this industry for 25 years.

Alex: We are honored indeed to have James Tiffany here in the studio.

Now, you’ve been in the business a long time, haven’t you?

James: Yes, I did Construction Management at university, and I worked as a national contractor for 12 years before moving back to the family business about 10 years ago.

Alex: There you go. There you go. And, it’s quite interesting. I mean, you look out in this sort of the general sort of property market places. Strikes me there are a lot of builders out there and they’ve all got their vans and they’ve all got the logos. But, if you’re just Joe Public like me, what do you actually need to look for in a good quality builder?

James: I think you need to go for somebody who’s been in business for a number of years. Longevity is a quality obviously, because it’s important you get a builder who is good at business as well as good at building, because if somebody goes [inaudible 00:18:49] or can’t finish your project, then even is the quality is good, that gives you a big problem. Somebody who’s been around, somebody who can provide references, somebody who’s recommended by an architect or somebody else in the industry is obviously a good reference, and somebody who would be happy to sign up to a building contract because that means many things. It means they’re happy to work and get paid monthly. They’re not asking for money up front. They’re happy to have a retention deducted from the work, Alex, that gives you the comfort that they’ll come back at the end to put things right.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. People often say, “Well, if my builder can start straight away, then he’s obviously no good because his diary is completely empty.” Is that also another point to go by, or am I just clutching at straws there?

James: I think that can be a little bit unfair.

Alex: Or is it your free space does crop up?

James: Yes, it does, and especially in winter when things are a bit quieter. But, I think if you have looked at the other points, you’ve taken references and you’ve spoken to an architect, then maybe you just stop looking.

Alex: I mean, one of the, I suppose, jargon phrases is this sort of procurement process. Just talk everyone through. What does that actually mean, and what does that actually entail, again, if I’m a homeowner, and I’m looking to get you onboard?

James: Well, the traditional procurement route, Alex, is that if a homeowner is looking to have some work done, they will tend to approach the architect in the first instance because the architect will guide them through the planning process. He will take their brief. He will provide them with some options, develop their brief so that they’re happy with it. Today, there’s more regulations to get through the planning process. It’s more complicated, especially if you’re in a conservation area or a national park. There’s more energy efficiency regulations. You have to have a SAP calculation done before you do any work. The architect, once he’s got the drawings through the planning process until building regulations stage, can then invite tenders from building contractors on behalf of the client, and that really is the way to do it. Employing the architect, then to monitor the work throughout to check the quality is definitely the way to go.

Alex: And so the tendering process, as you mentioned, what does that entail? What does that take?

James: So, a builder will take the architects drawings, schedule of work, specification, and he will price to that. We’ll normally give him sort of three to four weeks to put a price in with others. Everybody gets the same amount of time and the same information to keep things fair. And then, if it’s been set out properly, then the client and his team can analyze that price when it comes in to make sure that everything’s been covered, or if things haven’t been covered, then at least everybody…

Alex: Surely…on that sort of basis, it just comes down to price, surely. Is it down to being the cheapest on those tender processes…?

James: Well, theoretically it could come down to price, but sometimes on a tender the client asks for a methodology. You know, “Please explain how you’re gonna build this, how you’re gonna do it without affecting the neighbors, how you’re gonna do it without knocking down something that you’re driving past every day?” And also a program, “Is it gonna take three months, four months, or six months?” So there’s other things that can matter as well, but as long as the builders know what the outset [SP], then that’s deemed a fair tendering process.

Alex: Got you. And, how does a homeowner know that they’re gonna get the best price? How can you sort of reduce that risk at the end of the day?

James: Well, getting several quotes obviously helps them because…

Alex: And that’s through the architect, again?

James: It will tend to be, yes. Yeah, that would be the best way to do it. Having a good design with a lot of details helps because as a builder, then I’m clear what I’m pricing. It’s when we get ambiguities of things we’ve not met before that the price starts going up because there’s a little bit of risk, and that gives us a worry. So the more things that are drawn, the better. If the client schedules things out that they want, you know, the specification of the kitchen, the pottery, the floor coverings…and the more detail we get, the better price we can give, Alex.

Alex: You’ll be more accurate.

James: Exactly, yes.

Alex: I’ve got you. And, there’s a bit of a buzz at the moment, and there has been for the last few years about this sort of energy efficiency. And certainly, when you’re looking to extend or certainly, if you’re building sort of a brand new property from sort of foundations up, this technology is always of advancing and evolving. What are the key things that a lot of clients coming to you for at the moment? What do people keep an eye on?

James: Well, people want things increasingly energy-efficient, Alex, as you’ve said, and that’s driven by the building regulations as well as by the client. We get a lot of renewable technologies these days because there are grants available, and clients want things like air source heat pumps which take the energy from outside and use that for heating. It’s free heating. Solar panels on the roof provide free electricity that goes back into the grid, and a client can actually receive an income back from the power company. Underfloor heating is obviously very common.

Alex: At the moment, everyone is a property developer. Everyone’s an expert. You’ve got all these wonderful programs out there, and they make it look so easy. I personally don’t feel it’s really the case, but when you say, “Come to extend a property, or indeed build a new one,” that’s pretty much the trend at the moment, what are the issues that, with your experience, people sort of come across and need to be, I suppose aware of, because it’s not a case of got one of those property hammer programs you buy for 50 grand and you spend 10,000, and all of a sudden, it’s worth 150,000. I don’t think it’s as straight-forward as I think.

James: It all seems very easy, doesn’t it, on the program?

Alex: It does seem easy. It’s easy in the sentence strength [SP].

James: The things to look out for are to get some advice on price up front. It’s amazing the amount of clients we go to who’ve not been given any advice on how much a job will cost, so we often price it and they can’t afford it. So, speak to a builder early on, perhaps before you’ve even employed an architect. It will certainly give you an approximate estimate of the cost to within 15%, 20% accuracy, and that will help in your decision making. So, we definitely do that because that avoids wasted cost and time.

Things like speaking to your neighbors, people forget to do, especially if you live in close proximity to them. Again, we turn up on site, it’s the first time the neighbor knew there was gonna be a building project, and we get all sorts of issues.

Things like trees and hedges can be problems, especially if you’re digging near them. Again, people overlook them. Conifer hedges, leylandii, big trees can all give problems to your new extension that’s encroaching on them.

So things like that, disruptions to your own house. If you’re knocking through the kitchen into the dining room, you’re gonna get a lot of dust. You might not have considered that it means changing the heating system of your hallway and your entrance way, and they’re gonna need decorating. Builder can obviously damage your driveway because he needs a compound, he needs to bring in diggers in and he needs to take down your hedges and your fences at the back of the house, and people perhaps forget that they then need to put them back. The drive might need repaving or re-tarmacking, and these are all costs that people forget about.

Alex: Indeed, but those are things you sort of say in advance just so you’re aware, to get access, we need to do.

James: Exactly. A good builder would flag that up. But again, if that’s in the tender documentation, then everybody is pricing that.

Alex: Absolutely. So it’s not as easy as I thought. You look on TV, and it’s not as easy as making all that sort of money from one of those auction programs, is it?

James: No, it isn’t. Definitely not.

Alex: The other issue that people often come up against is damp, damp appearing in the property or indeed sort of rising damp where it comes up the brickwork. How can you sort of get around that? What are the options for the…?

James: In a new property, obviously you shouldn’t have any damp, Alex, and that’s alarming. You should always look for the damp-proof course in the brickwork. In an old property, it’s more complicated because houses weren’t built to current standards, obviously.

Things to do: What you can do is to check the roof to make sure you don’t have any broken slides, that your gutters aren’t blocked. Cleaning out your gutters every year after the autumn is something to do. But, old houses can just be damp. The solid walls, modern living means we put in a lot moisture into houses with washing machines, and it being increasingly airtight. Plastic windows don’t help really. So you must ventilate your own homes. Keep the heating on. Keep trying to get the moisture out of the buildings. Sometimes an old property can’t avoid some levels of damp. But, maybe that you don’t have a damp course, so you can inject a damp course. There’s easier ways to do it. It can be disruptive because you got to knock the plaster off the walls, or you might have external ground levels that are higher than inside, so that might mean that you have to tank, and tanking isn’t easy when it’s done afterwards, but it is possible. There are experts out there that can advice on that.

Alex: I’m just picking up on that point. What is the difference between say, dumb-proof course and tanking?

James: Well, if the outside levels are higher than inside, then a damp-proof course won’t work because the damp can still strike from outside. So you must tank that wall above the height of the external ground levels to stop the water coming in. Alternatively, you let the water come on in, and you have an internal drain and an internal line in a wall, and then you just drain the water away. So, often in a basement, you just gotta accept that that water will get in, and you put a pump in, and you get rid of the water.

Alex: Really heard it all there. That is fantastic stuff, and I’m sure…surely in your career, you’ve had some amusing stories that you may have come across, botched DIY jobs possibly that you’ve had to help out. Anything springs to mind there?

James: We’ve all got to be careful what we say, Alex, really, but, yeah, we’ve come across those. We’ve been caught in the middle of crossfire of arguments between husband and wife which can always be a little bit embarrassing.

Alex: Yeah, it can be, definitely.

James: I’ve heard of builders that might have knocked expensive vases off furniture before now, Alex, and have to glue them back together.

Alex: Obviously, nothing to do with yourself.

James: And yes, we do…with the onset of Google, it does amuse us when we have a client who can’t answer a question on a Friday afternoon, but by Monday morning he’s an expert on the subject, and puts us on the back foot. So, all things that are difficult at the time, but quite amusing afterwards, Alex.

Alex: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, we’ve had some great sort of inside information there, James. If someone wants to sort of talk through anything with you, whether it’s energy efficiency, or extending, or damp-proofing, what’s the best way for people to get in touch?

James: Yeah, happy to help, obviously. Phone us or visit our website, rogertiffany.co.uk. Our phone number is 0 1756 793734.

Alex: Fantastic, James. Thank you so much indeed for coming on the show. Really appreciate it.

James: Thank you, Alex.

Male: “Alex Goldstein’s Top 10.”

Alex: One of the biggest ongoing issues in a property is condensation. There’s cooking, showers, clothes drying, and even breathing. What more is that we now have double and indeed triple glazing which can keep our homes like a hermetically-sealed box? What this does is increase the amount of humidity in the air, and that is why sometimes you see black mold appear in the corner of rooms. You may not be aware, but this type of mold is now classed in the same toxicity group as asbestos. So what can you do to avoid it?

Always, as I see it, air your home by opening windows regularly, and in bathrooms, always install a strong air extraction fan. If you live in an older or larger property and see condensation appear on the inside of windows, you may wish to consider a home ventilation system. These are relatively modest in cost both to install and run. Work quietly in the attic and effectively condition the air in your home. If you have cold outside walls, then you can insulate these either with specialist boarding or indeed special types of wallpaper. Make sure you keep on top of condensation as black mold is really not a good thing.

That’s the “Alex Goldstein Property Show” and some incredible top tips and features. If you need expert information, videos, and up-to-the-minute property news, then head over to my website, alexgoldstein.co.uk. Alternatively, if you require personalized advice when it comes to buying or selling your home, please get in touch directly.

The next episode is out on the 3rd of April, so make sure you tune in for that. Until next time…