THE Consumer Crew are here to solve your problems.
Mel Hunter will take on readers’ consumer issues, Jane Hamilton will give you the best advice for buying your dream home, and Judge Rinder will tackle your legal woes.
Jane Hamilton suggests home improvements that don’t need planning permission
KIDS back at school, or are you heading back into the office?
If so, it’s time to clear the clutter.
Having an organised hallway will make it so much simpler to get out of the door fast and these tips from houzz.co.uk will help you get started.
Reorganising your cluttered home will make life so much simpler
Pack away off-season items: There is no point cluttering up valuable hall space with winter coats in summer or with sandals and beach bags in winter.
Only keep out what you need for the season.
Create a telephone table: This old-school idea is back in fashion – but not for phones.
Put a slim console table in the hall for post, keys, chargers and other devices.
You can pick them up for less than £50 at wayfair.co.uk.
Be honest about space you need: Count your shoes and coats before you start organising.
If you have a lot, consider using space under the stairs as storage too.
An upright shoe cupboard or rack that runs along the length of a hallway will help.
No space for cupboards? Run a double row of hooks along your hall for coats and bags.
Allocate ownership: Whether you have a hallway cupboard, hooks, pegs or shoe racks, dish out space for each person using it.
Label it in a style to suit your home so it becomes their space to keep tidy.
Divide space: To avoid clutter, it is better to have lots of little cubbyholes rather than one large cupboard.
This makes it much easier to store items such as bags and umbrellas.
Buy of the week
SINGER Ed Sheeran and his wife Cherry Seaborn announced the birth of their daughter Lyra Antarctica this week.
You might see the happy young family out and about in Ed’s home town of Framlingham, Suffolk, where you can buy this perfect two-bedroom terraced house for £175,000.
This perfect two-bedroom terraced house in Suffolk is yours for £175,000
Social media sensation
THIS extravagant party pad has become a social media sensation and is the most-viewed home on Rightmove this summer.
The Essex mansion comes with a ten-seater Jacuzzi, two saunas, two lifts, an 18-seat cinema, private dance floor and a floodlit tennis court with its own pavilion.
If you have it, flaunt it — this £9.5million Essex mansion even has its own dancefloor
It’s yours for £9.5million . . .
Deal of the week
COSY up for autumn with this Nordic-inspired faux fur rug.
It costs just £6.99 in-store from Lidl.
Lidl’s Nordic-inspired faux fur rug will keep you cosy in colder months
SAVE: £3 on similar styles elsewhere.
Judge Rinder, legal expert
Judge Rinder helps readers with property advice
Q) AFTER 13 years as a tenant, my landlord wants to refurbish my flat and increase my rent from £650 to £800.
Obviously the increase isn’t ideal but I agreed to it as I want to stay.
But while he does the work, I need to move out.
I thought he would pay for a B&B but he refuses – and says I must pay rent while the works is done. Is this legal? Robert, St Albans, Herts
A) Your landlord is behaving outrageously.
You have a signed contract with this man.
If he wishes to refurbish your flat, he must offer you acceptable alternative accommodation or waive the rent.
He cannot take money for a home you cannot live in.
Write reminding him of his legal obligation to you and make clear that you are prepared to discuss alternative living arrangements.
If this landlord carries on insisting you are liable for the rent, get in touch with Citizens Advice and send him a strongly worded letter explaining that his demand for rent when your property is uninhabitable is unlawful.
Q) BEFORE Covid, I worked from home three days per week – to a satisfactory standard.
In lockdown, all my work was done remotely, with all meetings via video-conferencing, as was any training.
Again, all my work was completed to a satisfactory standard.
Post-Covid, my employer is keen to have everyone back in the office.
I wish to work from home four days a week due to childcare commitments but my employer is resisting.
Where do I stand legally?
Does the employer have to demonstrate that it is of detriment to them?
Or do I need to justify why I should work from home? Paula, London
Judge Rinder offers advice to a mum on working from home
A) Even if this wasn’t an issue about childcare commitments, as you were working three days a week prior to lockdown with the agreement of your employer, it would be up to them to justify why they wish to change the basis of your employment now.
In your case, you are asking to work from home because you are a mum.
By law, it is up to you to make a request to continue to work from home and your employer must give this serious consideration.
There are very limited and clearly specified grounds on which they can refuse to agree to this and your employer MUST consider how you can do your present job in the way you have asked for.
They must also take into account that you have been completing your work to a competent standard.
If your employer fails to do this, they could be liable for a very damaging claim for sex discrimination.
I would urge you to approach this issue with care.
Email your line manager and the head of human resources, explaining why you are seeking to carry on working from home and asking them to put any reasons for refusal in writing, as you may need this for litigation in the future.
Mel Hunter, Reader’s champion
Mel Hunter gives advice on holiday refunds
Q) MY sister and I booked with Tui to go with our husbands to Mexico for my 60th birthday, paying nearly £7,000.
We were due to go on March 17.
At 5pm on the day before we were due to fly, the Government banned non-essential travel.
It was a weight off our shoulders.
We waited for cancellation confirmation from Tui, as we couldn’t get through on the phone.
Nothing came through but we were sure we had made the right decision not to travel, though we later found out the holiday had gone ahead.
We even began getting texts from the resort rep as if we were there!
Through these, we found out the holiday was cut short.
My sister and I have both tried to contact Tui but have had no response.
We can’t afford to lose nearly £3,500 per couple. Christine, Felixstowe, Suffolk
Mel Hunter helps a reader with a holiday refund from TUI
A) The holiday departed the day after the Prime Minister told the nation it was time “to stop all unnecessary travel”.
Both you and your sister tried repeatedly to contact Tui but got no response. You then tried to claim via your credit card provider and your travel insurer.
Both avenues hit a dead end.
I put all this to Tui, which said the official travel ban only kicked in on March 17 – after your flight was due to depart.
That is why you were recorded as “no-shows” and were not refunded.
The travel firm did, however, concede that the PM mentioned travel restrictions during his speech on March 16.
“We understand this may have caused confusion,” a Tui spokesperson told me.
This saga took a few months to unravel but I finally got your money back for you and took a huge weight off your shoulders.
Q) I UPGRADED to a new phone from Carphone Warehouse when my previous contract ended.
I wanted a Samsung A71 but it was out of stock so I went for the A51 which I was told was as good, and cheaper.
A few days after the phone arrived, I took two photos and was worried at how fast it shut down the app – hardly time to take a pic.
This got worse and the store agreed the phone should come back, the contract be cancelled and a new contract made.
I sent it recorded delivery but a month after it was signed for, I’ve heard nothing and am still paying for a phone I don’t have. Dave Leach Nuneaton, Warks
A) Carphone Warehouse told me there had been a misunderstanding and you had to return the phone, get the upgrade reversed with EE then apply for a new upgrade – you would then be sent a new contract and new phone.
This was the first you heard of that – as your records of a live-chat showed.
I got it sorted, with Carphone Warehouse arranging an A71 for you, waiving a £99 fee.
A spokesperson apologised for the misunderstanding.
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