Sunday, 28 July 2013

A day out at Hartbeespoort

As the youngest child is returning to live in the UK in 2 weeks, we asked him what places near us he'd like to revisit before he leaves.

Today's venue of choice was Bush Monkeys. It's a 60km drive from Centurion. once you leave the N14 be very careful on the roads. As you can see from the pictures it can be unsafe, but it's a journey I've completed many times alone and never had a problem.

The road is full of pot holes and the sides just drop off, watch out for speeding vehicles, plus there are no road markings so difficult to know where the over taking places are.

We stopped on route at Tan Malie se winkel, a wonderful restaurant with open fires in the winter, lapas on a terrace to enjoy a full meal or just a drink. Tan Malie is situated on the right just after the tunnel and the dam.

We drove onto Bush Babies. It cost R195 for an adult and R95 for a child 14 and under. Tours last an hour and start on the hour from 9am - 3pm. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about where the monkeys originated from and was able to answer a wide variety of questions.

We have visited here many times and take all our visitors to enjoy the experience, unfortunately Appie, the over friendly, kleptomaniac monkey decided today he wasn't happy just sitting on my shoulders but decided to take a chunk out of my arm. My son was then armed with a water bottle to squirt at him should he come near me again.

After our tour we headed back and stopped at The Chameleon village we had driven through on route to Bush babies. The Chameleon village is open 7 days a week. Here we wandered round the market, the shops and stopped for a spot of lunch.

We then strolled over the road to the Welwitschia Market, open Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm before heading home a slightly different route by avoiding the Dam as the road over and through the tunnel is single track.

There are plenty of places to stop on route, cafes, restaurants, retail areas, plenty of fuel stations and accommodation. I personally would suggest you visit first for the day and decide where you want to go and what you want to visit: from Riding an Elephant, Aerial Cable Cars, Canopy tours and Ballooning, which are all on our 'to do next' list.

Friday, 26 July 2013

so you're an expat...where do you call home?

I've seen lots of tweets and blog posts this week about where expats call home. For me having been in the UK, my country of birth, for the past 9 weeks, I was certainly looking forward to returning home to South Africa.

Why do I consider South Africa as my home, when I've only lived here just under 3 years?

I lived in 4 different houses in different parts of the UK from birth to the age of 11, I have family all over the UK and in America and Australia. My dad travelled the world with his job and returned with stories and trinkets to treasure. I've holidayed around the world and hubby travels with his job.

I raised my children in The Forest of Dean and in Malvern, I've kept links with friends in all the places I've ever lived. The youngest 3 children consider Malvern as the place they came from being 10, 7 and 3 when we moved there. The oldest considers himself from the Forest of Dean as he was 14 when we moved.

I visited friends in London, my parents live in a house that I've never lived in, one son lives in Leeds and I went up there for a night, I visited the in laws in Bath. I reconnected with friends all over the country and while it was nice to catch up, I didn't feel like I was at home anywhere. The longest I've lived in one house was 9 years in the Forest of Dean, but it didn't feel like home. It's been 11 years since I've lived there, with 2 house moves since and one of them to South Africa.

I've never identified with a place as being home. Although I do say I'm from South Wales, despite moving from there aged 2, but with my family living in Wales, I suppose that's where I come from in reality.

But home for me now is South Africa, I don't identify with the country, but I do understand and know the way of life here, I was confused when I returned to the UK, thought things to be expensive, even with the exchange rate, I kept converting the Rand into Pound.

Home is where my hubby is these days. My youngest child, aged 14, returns to the UK next month to start boarding school......and that will be another chapter in the life of an expat.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Walking in the tree tops at Celtic Manor, Newport

As you know I've been in the UK a while now, visiting from South Africa. The last few weeks have been spent at my parents where my 20yo nephew is also staying until he starts his new job in 2 weeks.

We've spent a lot of time together in the house and apart from the odd bit of running around we haven't actually done anything together. But what can a 42yo Aunt and a 20yo nephew actually do together?

We went to the pictures on my last visit, grabbed lunch out, but he has his mates, his golf and his video games and I'm not a big fan of the films he likes to watch.

So today, my last day of the trip we went to Forest Jump at The Celtic Manor in Newport. Home of the 2010 Ryder Cup.

After we had run through the safety checks and the instructors were happy that we knew what we were doing, I climbed a ladder as tall as a 2 storey building, stood on a platform that was moving in the breeze and announced to my nephew 'I can't do this' well by the 5th platform it was all systems go and we gained ground on the rest of the group finishing a good half an hour ahead of them, by whizzing down the zip wire. Click here for the videos. The whole course took just over 2 hours to complete.

I would recommend you wear a long sleeve top as I've a few rope burns and a pair of cycling gloves as my hands are blistered from clinging onto the ropes for dear life and I'd certainly recommend a padded have been warned.

This was a perfect day out for all, there were children as young as 12 up on the high ropes and adults easily in their 60s. There is a low rope course for younger children and there were a few dads joining in and having a great time with their kids.

I'd certainly do it again and at *£19* per adult which included all the safety gear, demonstration and 2 hours of fun, it was worth the money.

I wouldn't mind exploring the fitness centre on my next trip to the UK or maybe a few golf lessons and a chance to play on the 2010 Ryder Cup course with hubby.

*I received 2 complimentary tickets from Celtic Manor*

 Sam demonstrating the safety gear to the others
 Once you connect the first safety clip, to secure it, you slot it into the yellow device and it locks in place, whilst then releasing the lock on the other clip. Ensuring that at all times you are secured to the equipment.

Friday, 19 July 2013

A day out in the Forest of Dean

Beechenhurst Lodge is situated in the Heart of the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire on the Speech House Road.

Parking is £3.50 a day, and there is plenty of it, or you can buy a yearly pass if you live near by.

There is a café, a small gift shop, you can discover the sculpture trail, the paths are clearly sign posted or spend time at the climbing tower (there is a charge for this)

There is a fab play area behind a fence for added safety, with bark chips on the floor, a zip wire for older children, climbing apparatus, swings, etc. Plenty of open space to play football, cricket or rounders. Ideal for bikes and scooters. An excellent stop off point for refuelling, if you're enjoying a day out cycling.

There is plenty of space and trees to provide shade. You can take food for a BBQ, a picnic or eat in the café where they also sell drinks and ice creams.





Thursday, 18 July 2013

Summer hat too big? Here's how to make it fit

My mum finds hats are too big for her head. Fed up of buying children's hat with ribbons, badges and scarves on and having to remove them, she has opted to just simply 'pad them out'

It's literally a 5 minute job, the hat is secure and trust me she's chased a few down the street when there's been a sudden breeze.

 You need a piece of cloth and some padding
 Sew it under the band, don't worry about the neatness of the stiches, no one gets to see them

Adapting blouses for the hot weather

My mum likes to wear layers, a jacket with a top underneath, however she finds that this can restrict her movements and she is getting really fed up with plain vest tops, so rather than throwing out some pretty blouses I decided first to unpick the cuffs.

I ended up having to cut the sleeves off, to make the tops more comfortable and they look a lot prettier than the vest tops do.

I'd like to say it was a 5 minute job, but with the material being so fine and with hand sewing each sleeve took around 20 minutes.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

How to adapt a boob tube for much needed bra straps

I need to buy a size 14 in dresses. I need a size 14 for my boobs, but my waist is a 10, so I prefer the elasticated tops on dresses, or something that pulls in under the waist so I don't look the same size all the way down. I also carry most of my 5'7' height in my legs so I'm limited with the range of maxi dresses. I've keep finding dresses the right length, but they are all strapless, boob tubes. I need to wear a bra.
I bought this dress from New Look today, it was £19.99, it fitted perfectly, but without a bra on, it just didn't work and those strapless ones aren't strong enough to take the strain. So I unpicked it and altered the dress to suit my needs. It was simple and easy to do, took 20 minutes and required a little bit of hand sewing.
From Boob tube

To dress with straps

Using the belt for the straps

Unpick the belt from the seams

Sew the seams back up and sew the belt on to make straps

The dangers of open water in the heatwave

I left Malvern last Friday at 6.30pm. I called my 21 year old son to say bye and added 'Don't go swimming at Gullet Quarry'

A young man drowned there last week. I arrived back in Monmouth to hear that a man in his 20's had also drowned at the quarry.

I did what ever Parent does, my heart skipped a beat, I rang my 21 year old son, he didn't answer, I googled, I searched twitter. It wasn't my son. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then guilt, then upset for the family.

During my Google and twitter search I learnt about the death of a 18 year old that my 18 year old son played football with many years ago. The following day I heard that he had died in a quad bike accident. I only learnt of the name of the young man who drowned in the quarry this morning.

Both deaths were tragic and could've been avoided. Especially the drowning at Gullet Quarry, as it was the 2nd death there that week. You'll see from the article about the first young man that died that people were still swimming in the quarry despite knowing of his death the previous weekend.

People seem to think they're invincible, they all know better, it will never happen to them. I used to swim with my mates in the River Wye, unsupervised, as a teenager. I never even considered I may drown, I was a competent swimmer, belonged to a club, but I never factored into it, the cold water, items in the river that I could get caught up in, cramps etc. I needed to cool down, I was with others doing the same thing, I jumped in the river.

Drowning isn't a noisy affair, it's silent, you may not notice someone is drowning.

According to a witness to the 2nd death at Gullet Quarry:

“He was in the water then he said ‘help!’ But he said it really calmly. Then he went under the water. I looked over to see if he needed help. I saw him come to the surface and he said ‘help’ again. He looked like he was swimming no problem, treading water. I thought he was messing around and I looked away and then, all of a sudden, a girl started screaming ‘he’s not come back up!’ and people started getting in the water to look for him. Three or four lads got in to try and help. If he had screamed help there would have been people straight in the water.”

Drowning isn't like it's pictured on the TV, this is the reality of someone drowning.

I guess we can warn our children of the dangers, show them the stories, the pictures, ask them not to do something that could ultimately end their life. But they all know about the deaths, but they all thing it'll never happen to them.

Three families have lost a son in the past week. My heart goes out to them all.

An update on the Accelerated possession Order

You can follow the story to date by clicking here

I've been in the UK. I contacted the solicitors on the 27th May, the first working day after the tenants Section 21a notice to vacate the property was up.

I then gave them 2 weeks notice to inform them I would be seeking a possession order, which expired on June 26th. My solicitor issued the possession order on July 1st.

Today it is still at the court, in Worcester, it hasn't been issued, they are busy 3-4 week backlog of work, not enough staff. But it has progressed a little since last Friday, it is sitting on the Judges desk now.

I've no idea when it will get issued, but when it does the Judge will give the tenants 2 weeks to move, but they won't move out as they need to wait for the warrant for possession which can only be issued the first working day after the possession order notice is served.

How long before the warrant is issued? Assume the possession order is issued on Friday 19th. The earliest I can apply for the warrant will be August 5th. But how long will it sit in the courts before it is issued? another 3-4 weeks or longer with stuff backing up more.

I'm back in the UK beginning of September. I hope to have my house back by then, but who knows?

You can read the definition of what Accelerated means. Silly me, I thought that meant the same thing also, but I failed to factor incompetence, short staffing and the fact that landlords have no rights.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Are you an expat considering repatriation?

Some interesting issues have arisen since I returned to the UK to evict my tenants for none payment of rent.

The first being that despite having insurance it doesn't always kick in and when it does there's a lot of paperwork to complete and it takes time.

The second being that the tenants have rights, even if they break the contract and you as the home owner don't.

I'm not returning to live in the UK, but imagine I if I was. Imagine the following if you're thinking of repatriating to the UK (I can't speak for other countries)

14 yo son is returning for boarding school in September. Now imagine your child's education is suffering and they need to do GCSE's and you can't afford private school. So you want to return in August to live back in your home and you've issued the tenants with a Section 21a eviction notice and they refuse to move.

Now imagine all the money you need to spend to repatriate, furniture, storage, relocating pets, closing down bank accounts, waiting to get your deposit back from the house you rented, flights etc, etc.

Now imagine, like me, you've returned to the UK early to sort out the school places, prepare the house to move back into (in our case it's to re rent it, but still) and it becomes apparent that your tenants are not moving out.

Infact, just imagine that your tenants have informed your agent that the housing association has told them to stay put, not to move out until you serve them with a warrant for eviction from the courts (can take up to 5 months) or they won't get rehoused because they've made themselves intentionally homeless. In my opinion they made themselves intentionally homeless when they stopped paying my rent. (they are in employment)

You've been in the country for 8 weeks, sleeping on peoples sofa's. Imagine now you have to fly back to your host country (like I do on July 21st) so you can pack up your son's belongings and move him back to the UK, mid August. Now imagine that you're leaving your host country forever and expect to move back into your house at the same time, all repaired and ready to receive your furniture container.

But you started the process to evict your tenants in Feb, it's now July and they're still not shifting, so you approach housing yourself and after explaining the situation they helpfully inform you.....

You have chosen to repatriate, you have not secured yourself housing, therefore you have made yourself intentionally homeless and we won't house you.

Now how is that fair?

Meanwhile your tenants name moves further up the housing list, you carry on paying your mortgage, rent a temporary property, pay for storage of your furniture

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Swine Flu

My 14yo son fainted today and the 18yo bundled him up in the car, took him to the local doctors/hospital, sorted out the medical aid and called hubby who drove straight there.

Youngest was put on a drip and told he has Swine Flu, he is now at home and been told to rest for 3 days.

My 18yo is a star. I found the medical aid system, esp. in an emergency quite a complicated process, but 18yo has learnt well and managed the situation. I'm very proud of him.

I skyped with 14yo just now and he looks terrible, full of holes from blood tests and the drip, but as with all children, he's enjoying the attention despite feeling so poorly.

When swine flu broke in the UK in 2009, my 21yo son, then aged 17, worked at Malvern College, the school was closed due to confirmed cases and all the staff given Tamiflu. The 14yo, then 10, was a public at the prep school which was also closed, but he was unaffected.

The eldest child felt unwell, dizzy, temperature. So we called the Matron at the college who set the ball into motion. I don't know whether attitudes to swine flu have changed or it's just treated differently in South Africa, but this is what happened in the UK:

We were told to put eldest into isolation and wait for someone to come round to take blood samples.

A nurse arrived around 7pm, complete with mask and wearing a paper suit. She took blood samples, labelled them, placed them in a box, inside another box and sealed it with a label marked 'contamination' She then removed all her 'contaminated' clothing and put it in a yellow bag, that she left in our hallway with the box and told us someone would be round later to collect it all.

At midnight a guy turned up in van marked 'bio hazards' again in protective clothing, collected the sample and the waste bag, removed his contaminated clothing and put that in a yellow bag and shut the door on the van. He apologised for the lateness of the hour but he had to run each box up to the lab in Birmingham separately and he had several more trips  to Malvern to make.

Slight panic, an epidemic, more than a little worried. It took 10 days for the results to come back, eldest son didn't have swine flu, it was the tami flu that made him in and he was like a coiled spring being stuck in his room for so long.

Candy Shell for iPhone 4s from Speck Products

What a palaver.......I was given an iPhone 5 cover at Brit Mums Live, as suggested on the leaflet I gave it away and requested a case for the iPhone 4s so I could review it on my phone.
The only camera I have with me is the iPhone, so taking a picture with nephews phone, then using my phone to take a picture of the screen I came up with the following shots.
The speck products candy shell is bright, easy to put on, accessing the charging point was simple and the functions of the phone work through the shell with ease.
But that's it, what else can I say? I'm NOT prepared to drop my phone to see if it prevents breakage. 

I prefer to use this cover bought for £3 off the market as it protects the screen as well as stopping me from activating the screen in my bag.

Don't get done, get Dom

I received notification that accounts for Aug 2012 are outstanding from Companies House.

I don't need to submit accounts as I don't run a business and neither do any family members or friends and certainly not using our address. In fact we've never been approached by anyone to ask if they can register a public limited company from our address.

So I assumed our tenants must be operating a business without our permission and informed Companies House.

The response I received shocked me even further, the Director of the company isn't our tenant, it is a Mr Khan, did I know him? Then I was asked if I knew of anyone from an address in Birmingham. No I don't.

Well I don't need to worry as the business is being closed down and it will take up to 4 months to do so. Ok but what about any debts incurred? People don't tend to close down successful businesses do they?

I asked Companies House why they didn't check that Mr Khan had permission to use the address and they said they weren't legally required to.

So I called the local Police station who put me through to Action Fraud, who informed me that no fraud had actually taken place and they advised I called CAC's (I'm sorry I forget what the acronym stands for) who put me in touch with Trading Standards, who inform me it is not illegal for anyone to use anyone else's address to register their business from.

But I am required to seek permission from my mortgage company, but if I don't own the house then I can do what I like.

The woman at Trading Standards made a suggestion. Yes she was being serious.

'Why don't you write to the Director of the company and ask him why he's done this'

Yes, I'll write to Mr Khan, pop the letter in the post box, then wait by my front door for it to arrive.

Anyone else had experience of this? And if so, what did you do?


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

How to evict tenants

First thing you do is contact your insurance agency and they will put you in touch with their solicitor and after submitting hundreds of documents they'll issue a notice of possession through the courts. The courts will deliver this within 48 hours. The tenants have 14 days to provide a defence. The solicitor then instructs the courts to issue the Possession order and if after 14 days from the date of issue, the tenants haven't moved out, you can apply for a warrant for a bailiff and tah dah 6 weeks later you get your house back.
Well that's a load of bollocks...this is what really happens:
Insurance company state they have no record of you, you phone them on May 23rd, you don't find out till June 6th that you're not covered. So you write to the tenants asking them what their intentions are.
Your solicitor starts the ball rolling and you're advised not to have any further contact with the tenants, otherwise harassment charges could be made.
You decide you're not happy with the Insurance company so you make a complaint, they tell you that you are covered, you send them the email they sent you 3 weeks earlier telling you, that you're not covered, so you email them and say, you made a mistake, you refund my costs and they say, they're not responsible for costs incurred before you contacted them, so you tell them to re read the email of complaint that states you're not covered under the policy so having wasted 2 weeks you contact your own solicitor.
I'll let you know when I resolve THAT issue.
You then discover that your solicitor at the cost of £775 didn't submit the possession order on June 27th as they should have done and 2 weeks on you're still waiting as the courts are 'busy'.
Now that you're covered with the Insurance they inform you they'll take over and ask you to return endless forms. This solicitor seems a bit more realistic with a time scale of up to 5 months to get the house back and 1-3 years to recover costs.
it just gets even better..........
I discover my tenant has done this before, was evicted. The helpful local council have told him to stay put until the warrant for bailiffs is issued. If they leave early they won't qualify for housing. It's also public record (google tenants name and last known address) local paper runs story about theft and fraud and guess reference check carried out on him. Yes, original agent is to blame.
I inform housing that I am homeless due to tenants not paying rent and refusing to move out and that I have a mortgage to pay that I can't afford. The council tell me I can apply for hostel accommodation.
and then.......
There is post, post from Companies House, at my address, informing me a business is being operated from my there. I inform Companies House and they inform me that the tenants aren't the ones running the business it's a bloke from Birmingham. After a bit of googling I find several web sites where the company is listed and inform them all that the business has nothing to do with me and no permission was given to use my address and asked them to remove the listing. gets even better as I'm informed by Action Fraud and Trading Standards that it isn't illegal to use someone else's address to register a company and Companies House informed me it's not their job to check that the business has permission from the property owner.
...but what finished me off was the suggestion from Trading Standards that I wrote to the Director and asked him what he was playing at.....I'll give it a go, but I suspect it'll be me opening the letter as I can assure you....I've never heard of him and he DOESN'T live at MY address.







Tuesday, 9 July 2013

6 top tips for the travelling expat

According to popular belief, us expats ain’t loaded.

For many expats the annual trip home is not a holiday and certainly not relaxing. There is a lot of pressure on our time to spend time with our loved ones, whilst trying to rest a little and catch up with friends and their families. There just isn’t enough time and something has to suffer, it’s usually the rest and relaxation.

Hubby and I travel alone so we can stretch the visits with the families but have decided it’s not really working for us and with so many family and friends travelling out to see us, we’ve decided to travel together from now on. There will be additional costs involved such as accommodation as it’s impossible for us both to stay with anyone for 2 weeks and we will need to hire a car. To date I’ve been able to borrow my parents car, but as they go down to one car soon, this option will no longer be possible.

I’ve been in the UK on this visit for 7 weeks, sorting out schooling for the youngest child and evicting tenants. Hubby and I are likely to return to the UK in September to settle son into his boarding school and I thought I’d share some of the things we are planning to do on our next visit. (finances permitting)

1.       Spend a night at a hotel on arrival, to sort out sim cards, finances, hire a car, buy phone card. Ensure we have everyone's phone numbers, hire a sat nav.

2.       Stay in accommodation that is accessible for family. They are in Bath, Gloucester, Monmouth, and Leeds. This will be dependent on price

3.       First planned visit is to Sister in laws to collect our post, we use her address for all our correspondence

4.       Visit to the supermarket to stock up on essentials, toiletries, basic food stuff that we find our family don’t stock (personal preference not a complaint)

5.       Let people know where we are staying in advance of our trip, giving them enough notice to make plans to come and visit us or let us know when they are in so we can make plans for travel to them

6.       Spend our final night at the airport, via Sister in Laws house to collect any additional post, return hire car and enjoy the last night and relax


Monday, 8 July 2013

Everyone's favourite Aunty

This is a post from last year, all travel now is to see the boys and I'm off again soon, hence the update.

I’m travelling alone again, having left hubby and the boys back in South Africa to sort out evicting our tenants. I hate being away from my family for so long, in fact in 14 years I’ve know my husband this is the longest we have spent apart. Up until we became expats it was him doing all the travelling, but the balance has shifted.

Most of my friends have young children and in the past, almost 3 years their children just see me as either Suzanne or Chickenruby who visits with gifts twice a year from a country far. They’ve forgotten I have children and have no concept of children being anything but like themselves and not teenagers and adults.

When I visit I do a lot of travelling and visiting, it’s easier on my own for family and friends to offer a spare room or let me sleep on their sofa. The concept of me having a husband and children seems to have disappeared and although people do ask about everyone, their relationship is now with just me and not my family as a whole.

I feel like everyone’s single friend, to children I am the ‘favourite’ aunty, for family I am their daughter, sister, mother and to strangers I must appear as a spinster.

I want t-shirts printed for different occasions.

When I’m out on my own it must read ‘married expat with kids, visiting the homeland’

When I’m out with parents ‘I’m not their carer, nor special needs’

When I’m out with friends ‘Don’t forget there is more to my life than just being able to travel’

Do other expats feel the same way? Do you have family and friends, even in the same country and feel this way when you visit?

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Top 7 tips to saving money as an expat traveller

If, as an expat,  like me you travel from place to place visiting family and friends, make the most of the hospitality offered.

I travel with suitcase and hand luggage, it’s difficult negotiating public transport. I always feel obliged to bring a gift or pay for a meal to say thank you for the offer for collecting me and letting me stay at their house for a while.

But there are other ways you can repay their hospitality without it costing you a fortune, as to be honest, sometimes a hotel and room service would be cheaper.

1.       Use their toiletries and towels. Seriously lugging extra stuff around isn’t necessary, don’t feel guilty, these people are putting you up because you are their friend

2.       Make sure they take you up on an offer to babysit, or collect child from school, sit with their child and do homework, listen to reading, take over the bedtime routine

3.       Cook the family a meal while you’re there, unless they’re obsessive about their kitchen and
           have fancy fads.

4.       Do the washing up or load and unload the dishwasher after dinner

5.       Hang the washing out, take it in, do the ironing

6.       Tidy up after yourself, use the bathroom after they’ve finished with it

7.       Give your host family some time to themselves, go to your room if you sense tension, go for a
           walk if you’re sleeping on their sofa.

Your host isn’t on holiday but they’ll welcome the break from routine if you just help out a little in some of the ways above.

Can you add anymore tips to the list or are you a host who wishes there was something their visitors did or didn’t do?


How to evict tenants following a Section 21a

When my husband was offered an Inter company transfer to South Africa with a 2 year work visa,  it seemed rather rash to sell our family home, after all the move may not have worked out, then what?

So we opted to rent out our family home with an agent. The house was empty for 3 months before tenants moved in. We paid the rental agent 10% of the monthly rent to manage the property on our behalf.

The agency has since been sold twice, but prior to the second sale we discovered the tenants weren’t making payments on time and had in fact not paid any rent since November 11th 2012. Naïve of us to have trusted the agency to ensure rent was paid on time, naïve of us to assume we would be informed, but 6000 miles away and 2 years on, still adjusting to life as expats, we assumed that when we paid a company to act on our behalf, they would do just that.

Having finally extracted the rent arrears from the tenant’s guarantor, we opted to serve the tenants with a Section 21a notice giving them 2 months notice to evict the property. The agent opted in his wisdom to give them 3 months notice to quit with the date being May 24th 2013.

From the last inspection report it was obvious there was lots of work needing doing to the property and as the tenants weren’t reliable we couldn’t trust that they’d make the necessary repairs and return the property in the state that they rented it. So I flew over to the UK to oversee this matter.

The tenants ignored the Section 21a notice and I then had to turn to a solicitor and the courts for assistance.

Assuming you have a short hold tenancy agreement with the tenants this is the procedure you are required to follow to obtain possession of your house, recover lost rent and make good repairs prior to re renting.

You are required to produce the following documents and I strongly suggest that in order to save time, should you find yourself in this position that, you obtain copies from your agent asap.


1.       Proof of ownership of the rental property, i.e. The Land Registry Office copies

2.       A copy of the signed tenancy agreement

3.       Rent statement

4.       Tenancy deposit certificate

5.       Evidence of service of the prescribed information that the landlord is obliged to give to the tenant in relation to the tenancy deposit scheme. I.e. a covering letter and the information that was given to the tenant

6.       Notices that have been served in relation to the property:

How, when and by whom

If served by royal mail, provide covering letter

If the notice was personally handed to the tenant, when the notice was served and by whom was it served

7.       Check in report/ inventory

8.       Tenant referencing documents credit checks, personal references

9.       For the purpose of enforcing any court judgement provide details of tenants employment, bank details and known assets

10.   Any correspondence between the parties agents, landlord and tenants

11.   Any details of any matters that the tenant has complained of, in relation to the state of the repair of the property and if items have been complained of what steps were/will be what has been done to remedy the situation

12.   Whether there has been any history of drugs and violence at the property and if a possession order is made you consider that the bailiff will require police assistance

13.   If the bailiff is required to take back possession, confirm who will be in attendance when possession is obtained and to arrange for the locks to be changed


Ensure your agent takes up these references prior to signing any contract so you don’t discover down the line that your tenants have done this to another landlord before.


In order to obtain an accelerated possession order of your property you will be required to present these documents to your solicitor. Who will charge you approximately £2000 plus vat to obtain possession of your property. You will also be required to pay £175 to the courts and a further £110 should bailiffs be required.

The process to obtain possession of your house can take up to 5 months and as most Insurance companies will only pay for 30 days accommodation, you should really issue an eviction notice at least 5 months before you intend to reoccupy the property.

Recovery of rental arrears and damages can take between 1-3 years so prior to renting out your property, ensure, like we did, you have enough money in your account to meet these costs Inc. mortgage payments.

Once you’ve satisfied the courts that you have given 2 months written notice to the tenants for them to vacate the premises you can request an Issue of proceedings for possession on the first working day after the date the tenants were due to vacate the property.

The tenants have 14 days from the date issued to provide a defence. If a defence is submitted then the possession order can be delayed for up to 6 weeks for a hearing.

The court will then serve the possession order and a date will be given to the tenants in which they have to vacate the property.

Today as I sit writing this post I have been in the UK for 7 weeks. The tenants are using a van and their car to empty the contents of a 6 bed house. This may take some time, they started 6 days ago. I expect to have the house back by Friday.

Failure to do so will result in a warrant for possession served by a bailiff in order to evict the tenant with a further cost of £110.


Friday, 5 July 2013

My top 4 beauty tips to aging

When I was in my mid 20's, half my lifetime ago, I wondered what the hell anyone my current age now, knew about being 20. Yes I knew they'd obviously been 20 at some point, but what on earth could they offer me?

Well it turns out they could've offered me quite a lot and I wish not only had I listened but I'd also followed their advice.

20 years ago I could have slowed the aging process down, now I'm fighting a losing battle.

These are the top 4 things I wish I'd listened to and started earlier.

  1. Pelvic floor them.

     2. Don't spray perfume on your neck before going out into the sun, it was damage your skin.

      3. Wear sun cream protection on your face, neck and chess daily, it can seriously prevent a
           scraggy neck and skin discolouration.

      4. Moisturise every night, it can't do any harm after all. Pay particular attention to the back of
          of your hands.