More than 50% of Adults Have No Will

A recent report from the Bridgwater Mercury suggests that only 47% of adults in South West England have written a will. Their article also states that a "similar percentage" of parents in the region are currently without a will, which means that their children and any other dependants would not necessarily receive any inheritance whatsoever if the unthinkable were to happen.
Now, we've no way of knowing if these figures from the South West are in any way reflective of the figures here in Wales, but this is still a very alarming report. Writing a will is the only way to ensure that your estate will be divided up in accordance with your wishes; if you die without a will, everything you own will go to whomever the law dictates. If you are unmarried, this could be your parents, your brothers and sisters, or even your aunts/uncles.
If you haven't made your will yet, click here to find out more about Newbold's professional and affordable will-writing services.
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The Rise Of 'Revenge Evictions' & How Newbold Can Help

Renting a property comes with many a concern. Not only do you have to find a property you like, you have to ensure that you've got enough money to cover your monthly bills and rent. You also need to ensure your landlord sees to any instances of disrepair within your rented property, and that all standards of health and safety are met so that you can enjoy your property with no worries! The last thing you need on top of these requirements is the nagging concern that your landlord could subject you to a 'revenge eviction' after complaining of a problem within your home. 

Revenge evictions occur when a landlord evicts their tenants as a "no-fault eviciton" under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Many of these "no-fault evictions" are as a retaliation to tenants reporting faults within the home, and rather than fixing the problem the landlords opt to evict their tenants, and re-let their properties to new tenants.
This might seem like an unlikely occurrence, but in a recent study conducted by Shelter, it appears that 2% of renters in the private rented sector have been unfortunate victims of revenge evictions - leaving them homeless for simply reporting a problem which was affecting their living conditions. There are currently 9 million people renting privately, so that 2% is actually a far larger number of people than perhaps initially perceived. 
The number of people currently living in poor conditions within rented properties is far larger than the proportion of people who appear to have actually complained to the authorities - as we reported in this blog post on disprepair, almost half of all people who participated in the Shelter survey said they had encountered disrepair within their home in the last year. 
You do not need to live in conditions of disrepair within your home, nor do you need to fear an unfair revenge eviction. Our team of expert housing lawyers can provide you sound, reassuring and professional advice should you need to discuss any issues within your rented properly. Simply refer to our 'Advice for Tenants' page or give us a call on 0330 123 11 31. Newbold Solicitors will help you.

3 Reasons to Make a Will ASAP

Nobody wants to think about death, but if you want to have any control over what happens after you pass away, you will need to make a will sooner or later. Here are three reasons to do it sooner, rather than later:
  1. Your partner may not inherit anything - Nowadays, it is not uncommon for couples to spend their lives together without ever marrying. Sadly, though, without a marriage (or civil partnership), your other half will not automatically inherit anything when you die. If you want to ensure that your partner isn't left high and dry after your death, it's a good idea to include them in your will.
  2. Your family will inherit (whether you want them to or not!) - If you do not have a will, and you aren't married, your estate will pass to your descendants (children, granchildren, etc.) If you have no living descendents, your siblings will inherit, or your parents. In any case, you will have no say over who inherits your estate, and if there are people in your family to whom you would not choose to bequeath anything, you need to make a will to be sure of it.
  3. Inheritance tax tends to be lower if a will is involved - They say that nothing is certain except death and taxes, but making a will before your death could well lighten the taxes incurred afterwards. The presence of a Last Will & Testament can greatly reduce the amount of tax paid on your estate, which is good news for whoever you choose to inherit.
To ensure that your will is written properly and cannot be contested, we strongly recommend consulting a solicitor when making your will. Click here for more information about Newbold's will-writing services.

System Error Causes Home-Buying Crisis

Recent home-buyers were sent into a panic as an automated Bank of England system had to be suspended earlier this week. 

The system in question is the electronic payment system, CHAPS - or Clearing House Automated Payment System, to give it its fullest name. The CHAPS system is basically responsible for moving substantial amounts of money to and fro the financial system - and, this particular system is also used by solicitors come the end of the house-purchasing process.
A thorough and detailed probe has been launched by the Bank of England themselves after an institution added to the system causes a problem with Monday's restart. This created a problem until around 16.00 on Monday, whereas it should have been functioning from around 06.00.
This caused a great fuss for solicitors and home-owners alike as payments that should have gone through were not completed for hours. At this already stressful time home-owners described the event as an added and unwanted concern. If you consider that around 3,000 payment completions were expected on this very day, you can imagine the kind of melee that ensued!
Luckily the system was fixed by mid-afternoon, and the bank says all payments would have gone through by the end of the day. The crash did inevitably cause quite the drama for home-buyers, especially when you consider they assumed they were coming to the end of an already drawn-out process.
If you want a swift, smooth, and supportive journey into home-ownership, Newbold's housing law services are certainly more reliable than the CHAPS system!

Family Law Advice

Some of the most difficult cases we have to deal with here at Newbold are those relating to family law advice. Because of this, we take extra care to ensure all legal matters are dealt with sensitively, and of course professionally.

Family law is a fairly broad subject which covers everything from divorce and domestic violence, to injunctions and incest. When you receive family law advice from Newbold, you can rest assured that you're getting support from some of the most experienced and qualified solicitors in the country. 
The main services we can offer you are:
We understand that some of your most stressful and emotional times arise from family dramas, which is why we endeavour to take care of matters swiftly and sympathetically.

Is a Rogue Landlord Affecting Your Health?

If you are renting a property, then it is your landlord's responsibility to ensure that your property is up to scratch. If you pay rent and bills then any state of disrepair within your property is the responsibility of your landlord, and once you've notified them of any disrepair within the property you are renting they should be doing everything within their power to get those repairs made quickly and efficiently. 

If you have a rogue landlord who refuses to sort out your damp problem or is dodging your calls about any electrical hazards then it would appear that you are not alone. A recent survey commissioned by Shelter and British Gas suggests that around 1 in 10 renting families have actually suffered ill health in the last 12 months because of housing disrepair conditions which were not sorted efficiently by their landlords. 
The survey asked 4,500 private renters and around half said that they had lived in a property with damp or mould in the past year, a fifth said their home has electrical hazards and one in six families reported living with animal infestations including mice, ants and even cockroaches. 
A landlord's obligations to maintain housing disrepair are not simply recommended, but are mandatory laws stated within the Housing Act 1985 and furthermore in the Housing Act 2004. If you are renting a property and suffering with housing disrepair, remember that you do not have to put up with it, nor is it your responsibility to get it sorted. We have a whole team of expert housing solicitors who are fully experienced and prepared to fight for your right to live in a clean and safe property. 
Contact our housing experts today for help with your housing disrepair cases. We will help fight your case.

Newbold's Wills and Probate Services

Newbold has an experienced team of legal professionals who are more than capable of dealing with a range of wills and probate services. At the difficult time of a family member's passing, the skill and sensitivity in which we handle your case ensures everything runs smoothly, leaving you time to deal with your own personal circumstances.

Writing a will ensures your family and loves ones are taken care of, and there are no bitter disputes following your death. You can also ensure that those closest to you don't face the difficult task of having to administer your estate.
In order to minimise any family flair-ups, Newbold will actually handle the administering of a estate for you. Our modest fees reflect our sympathies to our clients at this difficult time, and we aim to handle matters swiftly and professionally.
When your health begins to fail you your judgement can be affected, so handing someone you trust the power of attorney is an option. Legal guardianship can help ease proceedings at difficult times, leaving your family free to care about the afflicted party.

Letting Agents Must Now Register With Redress Schemes

As of this month, all UK letting agents must be registered with a government-approved redress scheme. Those who fail to comply may face fines or - worse still - closure.
This new law intends to improve the letting industry's current standards. With 40% of English letting agents still unregistered, horror stories are sadly commonplace; only last week, The Guardian reported that somebody had rented a flat in London and then falsely posed as a letting agency, claiming more than £8,000 in deposits from interested tenants.
Scams like this are only the tip of the iceberg, and the new redress scheme will ensure that tenants will always have somewhere to go when their letting agents cause problems for them. As of October the 1st, 2014, all letting agents must be registered with a consumer redress scheme such as The Property Ombudsman or The Property Redress Scheme; this esnures that tenants are able to complain to a government-approved authority and, if necessary, claim compensation from the letting agent.
What will happen if letting agents don't register with a redress scheme?
Unregistered agents will be fined £5,000 and, in extreme circumstances, may be closed down entirely. The deadline for registration (1 October 2014) has already passed, and unregistered letting agents will now have to pay the price for their failure to comply with the new law.
If you are having trouble with your landlord, a letting agent, or the rented accommodation that they have provided, Newbold Solicitors may be able to help you. Contact us today, or visit our Disrepair page for more information about our No Win, No Fee service.

Landlords: 3 Tips for Winter

Winter can be hard on a house, and as a landlord, it's crucial that you stay on top of the property (or properties) that you rent out. With people visiting their families and going on holiday, many rental homes are left completely empty over the Christmas period, and if your tenants come back to burst pipes and flooded rooms in January, the finger of blame will point squarely at you, and you could even be liable for disrepair.
With that in mind, here are 3 simple tips to keep everything running smoothly as the temperature drops:
  1. Talk to Your Tenants Now
    As ever, communication is key. Speak to each of your tenants, find out what their plans are for winter, and know whether or not your house will be vacant this Christmas. If not, ensure that the remaining tenants know how to safeguard against cracked pipes and other problems - the average tenant has probably never owned his/her own home, and so they may not have any idea about these things!
  2. Keep the House Warm
    If your property is left empty over Christmas, you'll have to drop in every few days to make sure that the heating is coming on and preventing the pipes from freezing. Most boilers have a timer that allows you to automate the heating, but even so, it's a good idea to check back frequently to make sure this timer is working. Ventilation is important, too - open the windows regularly to prevent damp and mould from forming.
  3. Perform Regular Checks
    Make sure your house is ready for winter, and do it sooner rather than later. Check all external pipes and brickwork for cracks and leaks, and if you find any, fix them now before they cause any problems.

Divorce Doesn't Need to Be Difficult

Even the most amicable divorce can be a horrible, exhausting experience for all parties. There's a lot to do - a lot of paperwork, a lot of phone calls - and the inevitable emotional stress only makes things worse.
Newbold's family law specialists know how trying a divorce can be, and if you choose us as your divorce solicitors, we will do everything we can to make the whole process as smooth and as pain-free as possible. We offer several different fixed fee divorce options, and if you are keen to get your separation over and done with ASAP, this may be the best route for you. Choose from the following packages:
  • Basic Package (£80 plus VAT, not including court fee): We provide all the forms you need to get divorced.
  • Standard Package (£160 plus VAT, not including court fee): Basic package, plus one hour of free legal guidance from a solicitor.
  • Premium Package (£300 plus VAT): We will complete all necessary forms for you, file the documents at court, and complete the application to the Decree Nisi.
If you are unsure as to which package will suit your divorce, we offer a FREE 20 minute consultation - get in touch for details.