How Much Does it Cost to Get Divorced?

Divorce can be an extremely upsetting and stressful time for everyone involved. There is also the added worry of the legal procedures involved with getting divorced; a divorce can be an exceptionally expensive affair, which is an additional avenue of stress during this difficult period. With our range of fixed fee divorce packages we eliminate the mounting concern over legal fees with a straightforward fixed fee cost for our various package options.

 
Our range of fixed fee divorce packages are as follows:
  • 20 minute consultation - free
  • Basic package which includes all the forms needed for a divorce - £80.00 plus VAT excluding the court fee 
  • Standard Package which includes one hour of free solicitor guidance as well as the forms required for divorce - £160.00 plus VAT excluding the court fee
  • Premium package where we will take your instructions, complete the required forms for you, file the documents at court and complete the application to the Decree Nisi - £300.00 plus VAT
Our fixed fee divorce packages help minimise the stress during this difficult time. To speak to one of our expert solicitors, contact us today.

Newbold & Agents Celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau in Neath!

Beaujolais Nouveau is the new wine from the first harvest of grapes from the Beaujolais region of France. Each November, over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin their journey through France, with countries all over the world racing to be the first to taste this new wine! Approximately 65 million bottles will be distributed and enjoyed all over the world, making the Beaujolais Nouveau an up and coming event in the wine tasting world! 
 
Newbold Solicitors have a passionate team of agents who support us, and to thank them for their support and hard work the Neath branch of Newbold Solicitors took our agents out to a Beaujolais celebration meal in Newport. 
 
newbold beaugolais
 
A fantastic time was had by all and we were pleased for the opportunity to show how grateful we are for the continuous support of our fantastic agents. 
 
The Newbold Solicitors Neath branch & agents enjoying a glass of Beaujolais Nouveau 
 
Are you attending a Beaujolais Nouveau event this November? Tweet us @NewboldandCo and let us know - we love to hear from you!

More Landlords Pay the Price for Neglect

Landlords have a lot of responsibilities, and while most property owners are reasonably vigilant when it comes to maintaining and repairing the houses they let, there will always be a few who utterly fail to act in the best interests of their tenants.
 
Fortunately, the law is getting better and better at punishing these individuals. Not only is it becoming far easier for tenants to take action against their landlords, but anyone who follows the news will have noticed more and more reports of landlords who neglected their duties and paid high prices.
 
Here are three prime examples, all of which were reported just this week:
 
  • A landlord in Southend was recently taken to court after failing to complete vital repair work on a flat he was letting. Tenants had complained about damp, but upon inspection, an enforcement officer also found several other violations including hazardous staircases and a gas boiler that had not been serviced for several years. The landlord failed to appear at his court hearing, and was fined a total of £3,290.
  • Another landlord who failed to show up at court was Michael Scholes of Batley, West Yorkshire. In his absence, he was found guilty of numerous health and safety violations, including: inadequate fire alarms, damaged fire doors, unsafe electrics, and more. Scholes will now have to pay a £15,000 fine - that's £1,000 for each of his twelve offences, and £3,000 in costs.
  • Finally, an Ilford landlord has been hit with an even larger fine after pleading guilty to ten offences. Mohammed Hafeez Kayani was prosecuted after the roof collapsed at an unlicensed property that housed six separate lettings. The penalty? A £16,000 fine, plus £3,251.20 in costs.
As you can see, penalties are being handed out all over the country, including - as we reported recently - right here in South Wales. The message is clear: no landlord is exempt from housing regulations, and if you aren't acting on the disrepair in your property, you will face the consequences.
 
Meanwhile, things are looking very bright indeed for tenants who find themselves in damaged homes. We at Newbold operate a No Win, No Fee policy on disrepair cases, allowing tenants to bring claims regardless of the cost. If your landlord has failed to keep your home in a reasonable state of repair, get in touch with Newbold Solicitors today.
 

Landlords - What Are Your Tenants Doing for Christmas?

Whether we like it or not, it's pretty difficult to avoid the fact that Christmas is most definitely coming now. As a landlord, this can be a potentially difficult time if your tenants are away for Christmas. Many tenants will have moved location for work or personal reasons but will be heading home for the Festive period. 

This means your property could be empty for a matter of weeks or even months in some cases, which means your property will be susceptible to a number of potential disrepair cases. As a landlord, any disrepair within the property will be your responsibility - so it's important to make sure that you're completely aware of exactly when your tenants are away over the festive period. 
 
Here are our top tips for avoiding disrepair in your empty property over Christmas:
 
  • Find out exactly which dates all of your tenants are planning on being away so that you can drop in and ensure everything is fine
  • Make sure that the heating is coming on for an hour or so every day to stop the pipes from freezing over
     
  • Open the windows regularly to prevent damp and mould from forming. Both damp and mould are classed as housing disrepair, and as a landlord this is your responsibility 
  • Check any pipes and brickwork to ensure there are no cracks or leaks. While your tenants are out it's a good opportunity to check if any maintenance is required
To avoid coming unstuck this Christmas be organised and make sure you're aware of your tenants plans sooner rather than later. This will ensure a Merry Christmas for both landlord and tenant!

What Happens if you Die Without a Will?

Making a will is a difficult subject to even begin thinking about, let alone to action, and for many it is an unsettling and upsetting prospect. Thinking about death is extremely difficult regardless of your situation, and therefore unfortunately many people put off making a will. However, once a will is completed it can be safely stored and forgotten about, most importantly of all assuring that your loved ones will be looked after financially, and your assets divided appropriately how you wish if the unfortunate were to happen. 

If you were to pass away without a will in place, there is no way to ensure that your assets will go to those you love. In fact, if your estate is worth less than £250,000 your children will not legally receive a penny - your husband, wife or civil partner will be entitled to the full amount. To many this is a concerning thought, of course your life partner should receive some of the inheritance, but the thought that your children potentially could see nothing at all is very difficult to process. 
 
If there is no living spouse then the estate is shared equally between the children of the deceased and their descendants. Of course, there could be a number of reasons why you would not want your estate to be shared equally - or if you wanted a particular aspect of your estate to go to a particular relative, and there is no way to guarantee this without a will. 
 
If your estate is worth more than £250,000 then your husband, wife or civil partner will keep all of the assets (including property), up to £250,000 and all of the deceased's personal possessions - no matter what their value. The husband, wife or civil partner gets a life interest in half of the remainder, and then the other half is divided equally between the surviving children. This of course could potentially leave your children with very little, which can be a very distressing thought indeed. 
 
You can figure out how your assets would be divided by visiting the gov.uk website and entering your circumstances. However, the only way to guarantee your assets will be divided in the way which you would want them to be is to make a will. A process which, when paired with an expert solicitor, can be a quick and easy process, costing as little as £100 plus VAT. 
 
To make your will and rest assured your family will be taken care of after your passing, contact your nearest Newbold office and begin the process of writing your will today.

Fewer Mortgages, More Buy-to-Let Loans

This week has seen further signs of Britain's increasing preference for renting over buying. Mortgage lenders have reported a dip in borrowing, indicating that fewer and fewer people are inclined (or, in many cases, able) to purchase their own properties. Here are the numbers, as reported by This is Money:
 
  • 58,600 mortgage loans were to home-buyers in the month of September
  • This represents a 7% decrease compared to August
  • 3% fewer loans were given to first-time buyers
  • 10% fewer loans were given to home movers (i.e. non-first-timers)
Interestingly, 2014 has actually been a relatively prosperous year for lenders; July-September 2014 saw the highest quarterly mortgage total since 2007. Still, the housing market is still far below where it was seven years ago
 
There is another side to this story, of course. Lenders gave out 18,100 buy-to-let loans in September, a healthy 15% increase on August's figure (15,700). This increase balances out the mortgage dip, and serves as a clear sign that the rental market is continuing to expand, possibly at the expense of traditional property buying.
 
Of course, if this trend continues, it will have a negative impact on house prices, and lower house prices will almost certainly lead to an uptick in purchases. But will we ever revisit the we reached in 2007? Rising rental costs and the ever-increasing cost of living mean that fewer and fewer people will ever be able to own a home of their own, and while this is great news for budding landlords - there's arguably never been a better time to enter the buy-to-let market - it does mean that mortgages will continue to falter.
 
If you are looking to become a landlord, click here for professional buy-to-let advice. Or, if you are thinking about buying a house of your own, click here for our conveyancing department.

Newbold's Housing Solicitors

Our team of expert housing law solicitors can offer you expert advice on any housing law matter. Newbold is one of the most experienced housing law firms in the UK, and thus you know whatever your housing law issue - you're in safe hands with us. Indeed, our team of housing law experts can offer their sound and professional advice on a number of issues for both landlords and tenants, and Newbold specialise in the following areas of housing law:

When it comes to advising landlords, we can draft tenancy agreements for you, advise you on handling the bond, defend any claim brought on by tenants, serve a Section 8 or a Section 21 notice and advise you on whether a guarantor agreement is necessary. For tenants, we can help you with whether or not a notice is valid, defend your applications for court eviction, problems with your bond, ensure repairs are completed, obtain any damages and compensation from landlords who have breached their tenants' rights and take out any injunctions against landlords. Of course, there are a great number of other housing law issues which our highly-qualified team can advise you on. 
As well as advice for landlords or tenants, we have an entire team of conveyancing lawyers who can help you with buying or selling a property, remortgaging or a transfer of equity. Our Conveyancing team is second to none, so rest assured we will always help you with any of your conveyancing needs.  
Don't forget you can meet our fantastic housing law solicitors over on the Meet the Team page! To discuss your housing law issue and organise a meeting, simply give us a call on 0330 123 11 31.

Landlords Reject Tenants on Zero-Hours Contracts

Zero-hours contracts have been a controversial topic for some time. Many people claim that such contracts - which effectively allow employers to assign their workers as many or as few hours as they please - are an affront to workers' rights, and argue that they should be forbidden (although the government have ruled out a total ban).
 
Now, the controversy is deepening, with some of the country's most high-profile landlords refusing to consider tenants on zero-hours contracts. If this trend continues, zero-hours workers will find it increasingly difficult to find rental accommodation, let alone get a foot on the property ladder.
 
It's easy to see why landlords might be reluctant to house a zero-hours tenant - when a person's income is liable to drop or even disappear from one week to the next, it's difficult to know whether or not they'll be able to pay the rent. Some landlords work around this problem by insisting that all tenants name a guarantor (usually a parent or legal guardian), but this practice can cause problems of its own, particularly if the potential guarantors are self-employed or on zero-hours contracts themselves.
 
Concerned about zero-hours contracts? Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, Newbold's housing law solicitors are always happy to help. Get in touch now for professional legal advice that suits your situation.

Let Newbold Ease the Stress of your Separation

Separation and divorce can be the most stressful and unfortunate time in a person's life. According to a survey conducted by Gallup in the United States, researchers found that 51% of separated Americans and 44.1% of divorced Americans feel stressed, as opposed to only 38.6% of married Americans. 

Interestingly, it appears that separation is considered more stressful than divorce, but Dan Witters, author of the study, chalks this up to the finality of divorce. Those who are working through a separation are in the midst of a difficult time which could potentially see loss of custody, loss of homes and a whole manner of other unsettling and upsetting occurrences. With divorce, though naturally a devastating instance in anyone's life, the element of finality allows you to begin moving on with your new life. 
 
Witters proceeds to explain that children involved in a separation are also prone to suffering the consequences due to the stressful and anxious environment, which in turn puts further pressure on the parents. It is a vicious circle which is difficult to process and understand.
 
Our expert team of divorce and separation solicitors can help ease your stress at this traumatic time by handling the legal side of business in a professional and efficient manner. We offer a range of fixed fee divorce packages which can positively ease the financial stress, knowing there are no hidden costs or surprise further payouts required. 
 
Our team do not discriminate and will always treat your separation or divorce in a fair and transparent environment, offering out utmost respect at every step. Whatever your situation, our solicitors can help you obtain a divorce or separation quickly and with as little stress as is possible. Contact us to discuss your options today.

Landlords Will Be Responsible for Checking Immigration Status

Do you know the immigration status of your tenants? Possibly not, but if a new government scheme proves successful, you may soon be forced to find out or pay a hefty penalty.
 
Under the so-called 'Right to Rent' legislation, private landlords would be responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants (if aged 18 or over). If these checks reveal that the prospective tenant is in the country illegally, the landlord would then be prohibited from renting to this individual.
 
 

When does this legislation come into effect?
'Right to Rent' is being introduced as a pilot scheme on the 1st of December, 2014. To begin with, the law will only apply to landlords in the West Midlands, but if the scheme is deemed a success, there's a strong chance that it will be rolled out nationwide before long.


What if I fail to check a tenant's immigration status before letting to them?
The maximum fine for breaching this new law will be £3,000. Penalties will be more severe for repeat offenders, or landlords who have housed multiple illegal immigrants.


Why is the 'Right to Rent' legislation being brought in?
By putting the onus on landlords, the government hope to reduce the number of immigrants living in the United Kingdom illegally. Under this legislation, landlords will no longer be able to claim ignorance as an excuse for housing illegal immigrants; they will be required tocheck immigration status before signing a tenancy agreement.


How do I check the immigration status of a prospective tenant?
We recommend using NLA Tenant Check. A full check costs just £29.50, although NLA members pay just £24.50 per check.


Why haven't I heard about this legislation before?
You're not the only one - some reports indicate that 80% of UK landlords were completely unaware of the 'Right to Rent' scheme when questioned. As previously mentioned, the legislation will initially only apply to the West Midlands, but even if you live elsewhere, it's important to keep an eye out for further news. The 'Right to Rent' scheme could be coming into effect all over the UK before long!

 
 
If you are a landlord and you need legal advice of any kind, get in touch with Newbold Solicitors today.