On Tuesday 22nd August our Mr Brian Gilmour was once again on air at Radio Scotland with his fortnightly property workshop.  The slot is between 10am and 11am every second Tuesday on Call Kaye on BBC Radio Scotland.  You can catch it on iplayer but if you missed it, Louise Whiteford was sitting in for Kaye and Brian answered the usual array of property callers.


Louise:                   And as if by magic, Brian is here. Were you laughing about that joke that we had in the news about the one pound coin?

Brian:                      Nearly.

Louise:                   It’s not really kinda lighting me up.

Brian:                      No.

Louise:                   I prefer one, Tim Vine’s joke of a few years ago: crime in multi-story car parks, that’s wrong on so many levels. That’s kinda my sense of humour, but the one pound coin joke. Maybe I just still need to hear it a few more times.

Brian:                      They’re on a par to me.

Louise:                   Anyway, right. I don’t know whether property’s any laughing matter. You make it your mission to help everyone understand this ever-changing and very challenging industry, Brian. You’ve become a fixture here on the programme. Lots of calls coming in to you each week. And we are hoping to hear from you this morning if you are thinking of buying, renting, perhaps you’re wanting to give the kids a helping hand onto the property ladder, then Brian is here to help. Let me just remind you of the numbers, 08 085 92-9500. You can also text Brian on 80295, and we’ll feed all these questions and texts through to him.

Before we chat about that … In fact, you’ll be back about half past ten to take the phone-in for proper … Let me just pick up on a story that we spotted earlier this week. Is renting better than buying? Now this is a Rightmove survey that’s been carried out. You’re in the business. Keen to get your thoughts on this. Is renting better than buying?

Brian:                      Well it’s interesting, because we used to be a country of renters. We lived in social accommodation and private rented stock.

Louise:                   Take me through the potted history then, say Britain from the 1970s to where we are now.

Brian:                      Yeah, so post-war is actually the best place to start, because that’s when we decided that we needed to have … it was part of the National Health Service … we needed better homes to live in. And so a lot of rented accommodation was built by the state through councils and whatever. And then through the 1970s we came to the right to buy with Margaret Thatcher in 1980, and that was really the tipping point of moving the conversation away from a home as a place where you live to a home as an asset that could add value to your wealth, that you can then pass on to your children.

And that’s where the dialogue changed. Scotland in particular went from about 50%, 60-50-60% of people living in rented accommodation to we now have there or thereabouts of 60% living in their own homeowner-occupied accommodation.

Louise:                   And then things have changed again.

Brian:                      Yes, in the last ten years the proportion of people living in the private rented sector has doubled from about 6% of the housing stock to about 12% of the housing stock, and that’s partly been driven by the changes in the economy out there. More difficult to get mortgages. It’s also been driven by the reduction in the amount of affordable social housing that’s been built by the likes of housing associations, and obviously councils don’t really do it now, it’s really housing associations that build out affordable housing stock.

Louise:                   But nevertheless there’s still that impression out there that renting is worse than buying. Do you see it like that? Is it as cut and dried as that?

Brian:                      It’s not as cut and dried. I always remember at university my economics lecturer pointing out that Bangladesh had one of the highest private home ownership rates in the world, and Switzerland had one of the lowest, to compare the two economies. Germany and Switzerland are 50% and 60% rented accommodation that they live in. The argument for rented accommodation, it gives you a more flexible workforce so people can move. If you have an economic crash and people are living in negative equity, and there’s no jobs in that particular part of the country, it’s very difficult for those people to move on. Whereas rented accommodation makes it easier for people to move on.

So there’s that side of the plus of it. The downside and the plus side of home ownership is if you get a mortgage, 25-year mortgage, at some point you stop paying, whereas if you’re in rental you pay forever. The other aspect of it, if I have a boiler problem at 11:00 on Friday night, I’ve got to try and find a solution or I just wait until Monday morning. If you live in rented accommodation, you phone your letting agent, your letting agent will have an emergency contact number, that emergency contact person will come out, and that will be a cost of the landlord. So there’s pros and cons to both.

Louise:                   Yeah, but I suppose at the end of the day, all things considered … and I’ve got many friends who have actually sold properties, planning on buying perhaps another home but are renting at the moment … and in actual fact, I’m hearing the benefits of that. They are quite enjoying having the flexibility, perhaps in the knowledge that they’re trying to buy a house, but at least then they know the money that they’re actually dealing with, because they’ve got it in the bank. But at the end of the day, if you don’t have your own house you don’t have an asset. You have nothing to pass on. You’re effectively eating away at your capital if you’re renting.

Brian:                      That was always the concept behind the rent to buy, that people were living in a property from cradle to grave, paying money, the state was gathering it in, and then when that person passed on the family would start and they would have to do the whole process. So the idea behind rent to buy was to give people the ability that they were paying into something that eventually became theirs, and they could pass it on to their children and give their children a boost up in life, and pass on and add income across society. That was the basic concept of that. And that’s what rings true for a lot of people who decide that home ownership’s right for them.

Louise:                   Okay, so who do we want to hear from this morning on the phone-in? You’ll be back just after 10:30.

Brian:                      Anybody who wants to discuss whether owning or renting is the right thing to do. That also impacts if you’re owning and you’re in flats, you might have a property factor. And again, in parts of the west of Scotland in particular, property factors are very strong. They’re becoming more prevalent in the east of Scotland with new build developments. Are property factors a necessary evil? If people want to phone in with their good or bad experience of property factors, and what to do if they’ve had a bad experience with property factors.

Louise:                   And also I think it would be really interesting to hear from landlords this morning …

Brian:                      Yes.

Louise:                   Because I remember last week, or last time you were on, you helped a lady out who had concerns about a property that her daughter was moving into, and I think in fact she’s been back in touch with us, so I’ll be reading out her text a little later. But sometimes landlords can get a bad name, so let’s hear from landlords out there …

Brian:                      Exactly.

Louise:                   … about trying to pick a good tenant, because it’s perhaps not the wonderful job that everyone thinks it is, that you just buy up all these properties and the money comes pouring in.

Brian:                      No, you can have own a property, and a lot of landlords who have a buy to let mortgage, and if somebody stops paying the rent that’s a problem.

Louise:                   Okay, so a reminder of the number to get in touch with Brian. He’s waiting for your calls this morning. 08 085 92-9500, and don’t forget you can also text on 80295, and as I say, Brian will be back very soon.

Louise:                   You’re listening to BBC Radio Scotland. I’m Louise White. Let me tell you what else we have coming up. Of course, we’ve got our big property phone-in with Brian. Any questions you have about property issues. Brian, good morning. You’re back.

Brian:                      Good morning. You get me to follow the most inspiring people every two weeks. That was incredible.

Louise:                   She is, and you know I was looking at your facial expression as she’s saying, “You know I used to have a desk job, but it wasn’t really doing it for me.” And we both sit and reflect on our own lives when we hear someone like that.

Brian:                      Yep.

Louise:                   She is quite incredible. Right, you’re here to help us navigate this wonderful sector that you have chosen for your career, property. And there seems to end to the issues that keep arising. Can I just bring up an email from a listener who got in touch with you the last time I spoke to you about this, and it’s really nice that they got back in touch. It was a mum who we spoke to who had concerns about a property her daughter had moved into. So I’m just going to read out the email.

“I spoke to your advisor on your show last week, and I thought you might be interested in this. I visited the flat my daughter was in. I saw so many safety breaches I made an appointment to go to the letting agency yesterday to demand action. I left after being assured the work would be done, only to receive a message from my daughter saying the flat was in the process of being repossessed. The landlord didn’t own the property, went through a letting agent, needed £2,000 from students and scammed them. I’ve since been told there’s a huge problem with dodgy landlords doing this to students, especially at this time of year, because of course everyone’s looking for properties ahead of the start of university. Surely someone should be warning them of this and looking out for them.”

Do you want to comment on that, because that really has added flesh to the story since we spoke to her.

Brian:                      It would explain why the flat was in such poor condition, because the person’s not got money to spend on it. However, she mentioned there was a letting agent involved. Now as a letting agent you’ve got a contract with a landlord. You can’t set down and go to the Nth degree to find out the person’s personal circumstances. There’s nothing … You can’t get in the way of the fight. There’s somebody might not be repaying their mortgage and get repossessed. But the letting agent has a responsibility. They take the deposit on. There’s only three government schemes, and all deposits must go into a government scheme within 30 days. They should not go to the landlord. So the letting agent is at fault here if they’ve taken the deposit and paid it to the landlord and not-

Louise:                   So it’s a kind of holding period?

Brian:                      Yes, so the letting agent will take it and must within 30 days … and even if you’re doing a private let through the landlord … within 30 days they must deposit, or they must put your deposit in one of the three government-approved schemes. And they are an independent body, so if there’s a dispute at the end of the process about repaying the deposit, the tenant gets to make submissions and the letting agent/landlord gets to make submissions as to justify why a proportion of the rent’s being withheld, and they will decide. So it’s not a landlord just saying, “Do you know what, I’ve decided this flat’s filthier than when you took it on, and it’s my decision so I’m going to keep the money.”

So the letting agent is at fault here. They should be looking … Make sure your letting agent is registered with an entity like the property ombudsman, and if this letting agent is, find out what the complaints process is, tell them you’re going to report them to the ombudsman, tell them you’re going to report them to Trading Standards. Because they have obligations that they must fulfil. There’s going to be very strict obligations coming in for letting agents at the end of this year, but they still have obligations.

Louise:                   I’m sorry to be tough on the poor individual who was actually moving into the property, but ultimately it’s their responsibility. They’re handing over their cash. They’ve gotta make sure that these are bona fide individuals that they’re dealing with.

Brian:                      Absolutely. That’s the challenge in a strong market. You’re desperate, you’re going around, places are being missed. I had a call, the mother calling in two weeks ago and saying that her daughter had moved quickly because she kept missing out on things. So that’s the reason.

Louise:                   I think the landlord had said at the time of the letter, well if you don’t want it, someone else will. I’ve got a queue out the door. The standard excuse. Okay, well listen, it was really good of you to get back in touch and to let us know the full picture. The advice is just check that you are dealing with the people who they say they are, the bona fide letting agent, landlord, etc.

Okay, let’s go to the calls, Brian. Before we speak to Joanna and then David, let’s just remind you of the number to get in touch with Brian, 08 085 92-9500. That’s the number to dial, 08 085 92-9500. Pick up the phone. Any questions at all about property, buying, selling, renting. He’s here to help. Joanna’s on the line from Aberdeen. Joanna, what’s your problem?

Caller:                     Hi there. Good morning.

Brian:                      Good morning, Joanna.

Caller:                     I just wanted to say hats off to Karen. I was just bowled over by her story. But anyway, that’s your previous topic. My situation is that sadly my mum passed away last year and my dad passed away earlier this year, and so the family inheritance is gonna be mainly split between my three siblings and myself. However, there’s a bit of a complication. Where I live is definitely the buyer’s market. It’s down and I don’t know how much longer that’s gonna last for, but my brother actually is the executor. A guy I know who’s involved in banking and property where I live has advised me to ask for an equity release for my share, but the family solicitor says that that’s not possible. And I was wondering if you could advise me about that, please.

Brian:                      Well, it is better to get the best advice on this from a lawyer. My gut feel on this would be … So what, you’ve got two siblings and they don’t want to sell the property and you do want the equity?

Caller:                     No, I’ve got three siblings, and-

Brian:                      Three siblings.

Caller:                     But the eldest and his family moved back from being abroad a couple of years ago and moved in with my dad.

Brian:                      Right.

Caller:                     So they’re still living there just now.

Brian:                      Okay. So it’s their home, so it’s their family home, so …

Caller:                     Yeah, but they know that we … We’re not gonna put them out on the street, but we’re all waiting for them to [crosstalk 00:13:54].

Louise:                   I mean I think as Brian’s saying, you clearly need to get a lawyer across this, Joanna, but I’m sure you will have experienced this sort of thing generally, Brian.

Brian:                      Yes, and my feeling on this would be one solution might be to have a sit-down family conversation about it. If they want to live in it for a non-specific period of time, that’s their family home, then perhaps the solution to it would be, if it’s possible for them to do this, take on a mortgage on it. That would then be able to mortgage up the property. You might not get full equity share that you’re entitled to, but you should be able to, because if there’s four of you and it’s divided 25 ways each. If they were able to mortgage to a 75% level, and then the three other people who want their money out get their share from it.

Caller:                     No, they wouldn’t be able to do that. They don’t have the financial means to be able to do that.

Brian:                      Right. Okay, so if they don’t have the financial means to do that, that’s the challenge in releasing the equity from it, and as I say, my experience on this … and discuss it with a lawyer … but my experience on this would be it’s the will of the majority that can force this through.

Louise:                   It’s not an unusual situation, particularly when there are siblings and the death of parents. I’m obviously sorry that you find yourself in this situation, Joanna, and it is a case of conversing, talking, trying to find a solution. And perhaps as Brian quite rightly said, speaking to a lawyer.

Brian:                      A different lawyer than the family lawyer to get some independent advice on it.

Louise:                   Okay. Joanna, many thanks indeed for your time this morning. Let’s speak to David now. David, good morning. Where are you calling from?

Caller:                     Hello. Hamilton.

Louise:                   Nice to have you on the programme.

Brian:                      Hi, David.

Louise:                   What is your question for Brian?

Caller:                     Well, my question is the house I stay in, it’s in the gable end of a row, you know at the end of a row of houses, and I have quite a lot of … I mean I’ve got a garden in the back and I’ve got a lawn in the front, but on the side of my house there’s a big lawn, it’s about the size of a football park, you know, including the corner of my garden at the front, and I’m wondering if there was any way I would be able to sell that bit of land for someday possibly to build a house on. Obviously it’s getting quite a lot of work now, and I’m just wondering. I mean, it has grass, fair enough I’m just cutting the grass and cutting hedges and things like that, but I’m wondering if I could possibly be able to sell that to build a house on.

Brian:                      Taking that away garden away, David, you’d still have a front and back garden so you’re not …

Caller:                     I would still have a front and back garden.

Brian:                      Right. So you’re not impacting on the home if you then took that away.

Caller:                     No.

Brian:                      That’s a good starting point.

Caller:                     There’s actually … I mean I’ve got a garage that sets there and from the garage, and not including … excluding this but there’s a six feet bench right on the property, and the only bit that … I mean this is my property, I know, but the only that’s round about that is a small hedge, you know.

Brian:                      Well, there’s various stages about how much effort you want to put into this, and the more effort you put in, the greater value you’ll retain to yourself. So step number one would just be to try and sell that bit of land. Without planning permission or anything, so somebody come along and it will be lowering the value that you’ll get for it, because they’ve got to take the risk that it gets the planning permission, etc. So you could just sell it just now. Find an agent. An agent will come out and tell you how much it’s worth. The size of a football pitch, you should be able to get a nice good family home on it. I don’t know the area, but probably about £20,000, something like that as it stands just now.

The next stage, which is what I would be inclined to do to get a wee bit more of the value to you, find a local architect … This is not gonna be a big outlay in cost … Because you’ve gotta find a local architect who’ll know the planners, know the local area. He’ll be able to tell you whether you relatively simply get planning permission for this, and then he’ll be able to pencil something out as to what he thinks will fit on there, will be in line with local properties, so that if you are … if you’ve got a ground in Fostoria, then you’ll be able to go to the same height as you, because you can go to the same height as neighbouring properties. If you’re a bungalow, then it’ll be a bungalow that you’ll be able to build there. He’ll be able to give you that.

Caller:                     No, I’ve up and down stairs.

Brian:                      So if you’ve got up and down stairs, you’ll be able to go up to that height, get a good floor plate. He’ll be able to give you good guidance on that, and that’s probably the best balance in terms of your effort and the value you’ll get for it, because then you’re selling something with some added value. You’re not just selling a bit of turf. You’re selling something with planning permission, outline planning consent to build a house. You’re getting the principle from the council that I can put a house on this bit of land.

Louise:                   Okay, is that maybe helping you, David? So the more effort you put in, in theory, the more return you’re gonna get financially.

Caller:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative). I mean, there are houses across the road, you know. I mean even a little house, it would still be in line with the other houses that are actually on the street.

Louise:                   I think that’s why it’s important to get an architect in perhaps early on, and he will be able to … he or she will be able to guide you as to what you might be able to achieve. But listen, many thanks indeed for calling in to BBC Radio Scotland. We are talking about all matters property. Brian Gilmour is here, property expert, helping you navigate this challenging sector. Anything you want to talk to him about, whether it’s renting, buying, selling a plot of land, perhaps you want to get the kids onto the property ladder, even buy a second home. Do get in touch, 08 085 92-9500. Text 80295.

Louise:                   Brian Gilmour here answering all your property queries. 08 085 92-9500. Brian, just as I was reminding everyone of how to get in touch, just a moment ago I was talking about the issues surrounding second property. Claire happens to have texted in on 80295. She is in Airdrie this morning. She says, “My husband has the mortgage on our house solely in his name. He owned it before we met. We want to purchase a holiday home in Edinburgh to rent at a holiday rental and also to use ourselves. If we do this in my name, is it considered a second property?”

Brian:                      Yes. I’m sorry, no. It’s not.

Louise:                   I was poised there. So not, because of the fact that she does not at the moment own a property.

Brian:                      The reason why I hesitated is it’s a bit dubious, because under Matrimonial Homes Act she’s entitled to, despite the fact the property’s in her husband’s name, she is entitled to stay in that property, so she does another home. However, from the purpose of what it’s gonna look like when she’s applying for a mortgage, she’s applying for a first mortgage, so it’ll be her first home, if this is the first property she’s bought, but it’s not an additional property.

Louise:                   And if it’s involving not taking out a mortgage, if she’s using her own capital, would that-

Brian:                      If she’s using her own capital, then-

Louise:                   Even more simpler.

Brian:                      She’s not got her name on an existing title, so she’s getting her name for the first time on another title.

Louise:                   Okay. I think she’s sitting at home in Airdrie with a big smile on her face right now. Okay, Claire, I hope that clarifies things. Many thanks indeed. Let’s go to Harry. He’s on the line from Kirkintilloch. Harry, good morning.

Caller:                     Good morning.

Louise:                   What’s your property question?

Caller:                     Right, so Brian, I own a couple of flats which I rent out in a block of six in an unfactored building. Now one of the other flats has been lying empty in a derelict state for about three years. The very elderly owner we understand was taken away in an ambulance about two years ago. And we’ve been trying to trace his whereabouts, what’s happened to him, without any success. We need access to his … you know the building needs some serious work done on the back stonework, and we’re struggling. We can’t obviously get this done until we find out what’s happened to him. Now we do know he has family, but we’ve no way of contacting them. Where on earth do we go with this one?

Louise:                   Okay, he’s not alone. This happens time and time again, particularly in shared blocks, doesn’t it, Brian?

Brian:                      It does, and you’d be surprised … We deal with a number of factoring units, and about 25% of the buildings that we factor have an empty property in it that has been empty for some time where nobody knows where the owner is. It’s often through these types of circumstances that Harry’s describing where somebody has either gone into care or passed away and it’s gone to a family where well I’m sure the son lives in Germany or type of chance. Nobody’s quite sure where it is. However, it’s difficult to track people down. That’s the biggest challenge of it. And what you might find that you need to do here, Harry, is take the set element of that and divide and by five, and the other five of you share it. Now what you can then do is if you’ve proved that you’ve taken all the steps that you can to try and trace this person, you can go to the court and it’s not expensive, you can get a notice of potential liability …

Caller:                     Yes, we’ve heard of this.

Brian:                      … placed on the property. And what that means, if the chap has gone into care and eventually he’s passed away and … or hasn’t passed away yet, whatever the circumstances, it’s a family estate and the family then come to sell the property.

Caller:                     Yes

Brian:                      Your notice of potential liability has to be released first before any of the money goes to the estate. And that way … The most important thing under those circumstances, because that could be tomorrow, next year, it could be in ten years time … the most important thing in those circumstances therefore is the people who pay out now, somebody keeps a track record of where everybody is, so whenever that notice of potential liability pays out, everybody gets their share back.

Caller:                     Yes, right.

Louise:                   I mean it sounds as if the burden is very much on Harry.

Caller:                     Our problem is we would probably need access to that flat to get some of this work done. I think there’s gonna be tying in required of the outer wall.

Brian:                      You need to do as much as possible. There are circumstance where if the fabric of the building is causing concern … I dealt with a set of circumstances just last month where in a building there was an empty property and there was a leak from that empty property. Nobody had been in it for 5, 6 years. We don’t know where the owner is. We had to gain access to the property, because there was a leak coming through to the flat below. There are circumstances. It is actually the benefit of having a property factor.

Caller:                     Sure.

Brian:                      Because it’s an outside independent party who’s then doing this, and there’s no accusation that homeowners were …

Louise:                   Breaking down doors, which is not what you want to do.

Brian:                      Correct, yes.

Caller:                     Yeah, right.

Louise:                   I mean obviously stay on the right side of the law, but in a case where he has got a problem and he needs to get access to a property, I mean a physical access, where should he go to? What’s the first port of call?

Brian:                      You need to have done the research to show that you’ve tried your best to track down the owner, and the best thing to do would then … Phone the police to get the police along to show that you’re gaining access for legitimate reasons. They will often somebody along with you just while you go into the property to demonstrate that you’re going in for the right reasons. And then of course equally important is it’s then your cost to make that safe afterwards. So if you’ve had to break the door down to get in, then you resecure the door. And you put a sign on the door so that if somebody then comes along to gain access and they’re the legitimate owner, they know where to go to to get the key for you having made it safe.

Louise:                   Okay, it sounds like you’ve probably got a bit of work on your hands, Harry. Best of luck with that. Thank you very much indeed for calling in on 08 085 92-9500. Let’s go to J.P. now. He’s got a question for you about remortgaging. J.P., good morning.

Caller:                     Hi. Good morning.

Louise:                   What’s your query?

Caller:                     Probably quite long-winded. We bought a house two years ago. This next March, we’re gonna be remortgaging. And we’re doing quite a bit of work to the house, new bathrooms, kitchen, all new windows. I just want to know what happens if the house is worth more money when it comes to remortgage?

Brian:                      Well, J.P., it’s good news for you if the house is worth more money and you’ve been spending your own cash to date, adding value to the property. When you come to remortgage that property, provided your income sustains it, you can get that cash back. You could remortgage the property to the higher equity level that your property’s now worth and get the money back that you’ve just spent on it, and go on a nice holiday if that’s what you want to do.

Caller:                     Oh, okay.

Louise:                   Hopefully that’s made you a happy man who I’m told is in his digger at the moment. I’m getting a picture. Let’s speak to Elaine now, hopefully not in her digger. Elaine, good morning. Thanks for listening to BBC Radio Scotland. Brian’s standing by, so what would you like to ask him?

Caller:                     Good morning.

Louise:                   Good morning.

Caller:                     Sort of similar to the previous question, but I live in Edinburgh and next door to me is a private house that’s been sitting empty for close on ten years. I know where the owners are. They come back now and again, and they’ve told me several times that they’re gonna put it up for sale, but they never do. It’s impacting on our property obviously, because it’s a complete mess. You know, it’s a jungle, the garden. We would like to sell our own property, and obviously I think it’s gonna be losing value because of that. Because it’s a private house, the council told me there’s nothing really that they can do about it, and I was wondering if you could suggest anything.

Brian:                      It’s a challenge. You’re fortunate that you know the people next door, that at least you can make some contact with them. Another thing you can really say it’s about moral pressure that you need to be putting on to them to get the works done. If I had contact with them … Is it things like the garden needs done and a bit of paint work at the front, is that it, or is it worse than that?

Caller:                     It’s worse than that. There’s a bit falling off the house basically, but also you know the garden, they tend to leave it for a couple of years. Everything grows really high, the hedges are huge, and then they’ll come back now and again and give it a trim and then tell me they’re gonna put it up for sale, but they just disappear again. We have asked them several times, but I’m getting nowhere with that.

Louise:                   It’s hugely frustrating.

Brian:                      Yes. It’s the moral pressure that you’re gonna have to put to bear on them. You could try again with the council in terms of environmental reasons if you think that there’s a health hazard or a fabric of the building is causing danger to the postman coming to it or the bin men coming to it, circumstance like that. You could contact them … I’ve done this myself … You could contact them and say, “I’ll tell you what I want to do. I want to get a gardener into your garden, and I will pay for it myself. Do you object to me doing that?” You may begrudge spending your money on somebody else’s garden, but if it’s gonna help you sell your home. There are limited steps you can take unless it’s in such a serious state of disrepair that the council need to take action, and from what you’re saying it’s not gone that far yet.

Louise:                   Okay.

Caller:                     I just had a visit from the council a few months ago, and they said that they were gonna contact the owners and try to put a bit of pressure on them, but they said really there’s nothing we can do legally if they … You know, they can’t force them to sell it. I think there was a question of how much council tax they’d be paying and that sort of thing, but in the end they said there’s really nothing they can do.

Louise:                   I can sense your frustration. Hugely frustrating, but as Brian said, it’s just a case of applying a little bit of moral pressure. Many thanks indeed, Elaine. I hope you resolve that. Let’s speak to Martin. Martin, quickly, what’s your problem?

Caller:                     Hello, I’m essentially wanting to build some property on a family member’s field. Buying the land isn’t the issue. I just want to know about how can I go about seeing if I’m gonna be able to get planning permission without sort of wasting my time, you know? I see about buying the land and then eventually I find out that it’s wasting my time.

Louise:                   Similar to a call that we took earlier, but that was a chap trying to sell. You don’t have the issue, lucky you, of having to purchase the field. So again, are we back at the architect?

Brian:                      Well, the first step that Martin could make here, because … pretty straightforward, phone the planners. The fact that you called it a field makes me think it might be a bit more rural location.

Caller:                     Yes, it is.

Brian:                      Pick up the phone to the planners first of all. The planning department of your local council will be able to give you an indication as to whether it’s a no or a maybe. They’re unlikely to say yes. They will let them know if it’s a no or a maybe and if it’s a maybe then go down the road of engaging with the architect.

Caller:                     Okay, perfect.

Louise:                   All right, best of luck. Sounds fantastic. Very quickly, I’m paying £300 pounds for home insurance in a tenement flat. I’m in this tenement with eight other flats. Does that seem a reasonable amount, and why is it I’m paying more than say, for example, a detached home?

Brian:                      It sounds unreasonable. It could well be to do with your claims history. If you’ve got a property factor, have a word with them about how much commission they are taking on their building’s insurance. If you are doing it individually yourself, it might be better if you had one policy for the entire building. It’s always better in a tenement building, one policy for the entire building. It’s really only claims history or commission that would be impacted.

Louise:                   Brian Gilmour, as always an absolute pleasure, and no doubt Brian will be back very soon.