Category Archives: Real Estate

Bona Vacantia – Unclaimed Estates in England

Bona Vacantia

Many people die intestate and leave assets that can be worth a lot of money. But if no relatives can be found then these assets can go to the Crown. A list of estates that remain unclaimed is held and is called the Bona Vacantia list.

Whenever someone dies in England, if they do not leave a will advising who they wish to leave their assets to, and if no-one comes forward to claim that inheritance within 12 years of their death, their entire estate goes to the Treasury – i.e. the UK Government gets it all.

Because the government say that they would rather have the money go to the rightful heirs than themselves, the government have set up a list which can be accessed by anyone online, which shows all of the names of the estates that they have registered where no-one can be found to claim the inheritance. That list is called the Bona Vacantia list which means ‘vacant goods’. Anyone can search through this list to see if any of their deceased relatives are on the list and liable to leave an estate that could be valuable.

Only certain people are allowed to claim against an estate and that is close relatives, further details are given below.

Who Can Claim a Bona Vacantia Estate?

Only certain relatives are able to claim against a Bona Vacantia Estate. The simple explanation is that the person must be a blood relative of the deceased and be one of the following:

  • Parent
  • Grandparents
  • Parents
  • Aunt (by blood not marriage)
  • Uncle (by blood not marriage)
  • Sister (including half-sister)
  • Brother (including half-brother)
  • Children
  • Cousins (only first cousins, i.e. the children of the deceased’s uncle or aunt)

Obviously it can get a bit more complex than this but this is the essential list of beneficiaries. If any of the beneficiaries have themselves died and left children then they will then become entitled to that share.

A diagram of the main relatives that can claim on a Bona Vacantia estate.
A diagram of the main relatives that can claim on a Bona Vacantia estate.

In order to claim an entitlement the beneficiaries must have evidence that they are who they say they are and that they are related to the deceased in the way they claim. This can be done by getting appropriate copies of birth, marriage and death certificates from the appropriate Registry Office.

Which Names Are Listed on Bona Vacantia?

You can find a full list of names of those who have died intestate (without a will) and for whom no relatives can be found, on the website in either the form of a list or by searching for a particular name or area where someone may have died. Obviously if the deceased has quite a common surname then it is going to be difficult to find relatives – for example, there are over 100 names on the list with the surname Jones so those are going to be more difficult to solve.

However, there are names on the list that are more distinctive and rare like the following:

Ignat Bladezki
James Anthony Blenkey
Frank Arthur Booton
Gertrude Maud Chitty
George William Flippance
Alan John Hankinson
Edward Lish
Edward Onions
Ellen Deborah Parker-Husband
Jean Albert Recordon
May Kathleen Sackett

These are just a small selection of names from the list, there are many more unusual and common surnames of people who were residents of England when they died. To find out the full list of names or to search through them you can check here.

The Importance of Having a Will

If you do not have a will and you die then there are strict criteria set out by law, as to who will get the value of your estate on your death. Obviously then, if those people are not the beneficiaries that you would actually want to receive all your worldly goods then you need to make sure that you have a will specifying your wishes.

A lot of people do not think about making a will until they feel like they are ‘getting old’! It is put off from year to year because we either do not want to think about it or just think it will not happen to us at any time soon.

However, it can be quite simple to make a will (as long as your affairs are not too complex). Although it is best to get a will drawn up by a solicitor, you can also get a kind of ‘readymade’ will where you just need to fill in the details. Once you have specified your wishes in this document and completed it according to the instructions, it is valid in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

With a will costing less than £20 there is really no need to put off completing one, even if this is a more simple version for the interim until you get a solicitor to draw up a more complex will. You can get legal forms to complete a will online – see the link on the left for one particular example.

How Do You Clean Paving Slabs?

How Do You Clean Paving Slabs?

So last year I bought a property that needed a lot of work doing on it. I did most of the work inside the house and a bit of work on the garden. One of the big problems of the garden was the fact that there were a lot of paving slabs out there and most of them were covered in algae.

I thought it would be very costly (and not really necessary) to replace all of the paving slabs with new ones so I decided to try and find a way to clean them up. Over a few weeks I tried different methods to try and get rid of the algae and general staining that the paving slabs had accumulated over the years.

Things I Tried

Scrubbing with a hard broom and patio cleaner did give some results but not as much as I wanted. It was also a lot of hard work!
Scrubbing with a hard broom and patio cleaner did give some results but not as much as I wanted. It was also a lot of hard work!

I bought some liquid patio cleaner that you mix with water and used this with a stiff yard brush to try and get rid of the algae. Although this did help a bit and the paving slabs did get a bit cleaner they were still nowhere near where I wanted them to be. Added to this it was really hard work to scrub all of the paving slabs since I had so many!

The second thing that I tried was bleach. When I had searched for remedies for cleaning paving stones this was one thing that came up quite a lot. I was a bit hesitant as it did not seem very environmentally friendly to use bleach but I gave it a go, watered down, also with a stiff brush. Again I did get some limited results but still nothing major that I was happy with. Some people advised to use neat bleach but I didn’t really think that this would be a good thing to use in the garden, particularly as I had quite a lot to do.

The Best Thing to Clean Paving Slabs

So, as I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do next, my friend said that she would lend me her pressure washer. I had thought about using one but I wasn’t sure that I would get any better results that using the cleaners that were specially made for this job and a large amount of elbow grease!

Boy was I wrong. The moment I started cleaning with the pressure washer the slabs started to come up clean, almost like new! It took me about 5 minutes to clean each paving slab but the results were really incredible. It almost looks like I have replaced the patio.

Using the pressure washer brought the paving slabs almost back to new.
Using the pressure washer brought the paving slabs almost back to new.

The pressure washer works off your water supply and a clicklock hose attachment. Ideally you will need an outside tap but if you can fix the attachment on a kitchen tap then you should be able to get this to work. Turn the water on once the hose is attached and then plug the washer on and turn it on. It will make quite a bit of noise while it is working. A pressure washer usually has a couple of settings as to how the water comes out, I chose the most concentrated jet to do my slabs as this seemed to give the best results.

However, one thing you need to be aware of is that if you have any lose mortar in between the slabs there is a danger of this getting blown out by the jetwash. Also, wear old clothes as you can get sprayed with wet earth if there is mud between the paving stones.

Anyway, check out the pictures and the video and you will see what an amazing transformation can be made by using a pressure washer to clean your paving slabs.

You can buy pressure washers in local hardware stores or else there are a lot of options available on Amazon – US and UK:


How Much is the Average House in England?

With average house prices increasing at a steady rate, the average price of a house was just over £195,000 this week (June 2015). But what exactly can you get for £195,000 and what is an average house? We checked out various areas to see what the price of an average house could buy…

houseEast Anglia – prices varied quite a bit depending on if you were looking in towns or coastal areas and also how far away from London you looked. £195,000 in East Anglia could buy you a 2 bedroom flat in Norwich City centre, a 4 bedroom townhouse in Peterborough, a 3 bedroom refurbished bungalow in Whittlesey or a 3 bedroom semi in Stowmarket. So £195,000 could actually give you a reasonable choice of properties in this area.

North East – £195,000 could buy you a 3 bedroom detached house in Nether Edge Sheffield, a 3 bedroom semi in Howden, East Yorkshire or a 2 bedroom apartment in Leeds City Centre. So prices are a little bit similar to East Anglia but you will also find quite a few spots where you can find much cheaper property.

North West – for £195,000 you could buy a 4 bedroom detached house in Fleetwood, near Blackpool, a 3 bedroom semi in Nantwich, Cheshire or a 2 bedroom apartment in Manchester City Centre.

Midlands – in the Midlands you could buy a 2 bedroom semi in Stratford-upon-Avon, a 4 bedroom townhouse in Kettering, a 3 bedroom detached in Oldbury, West Midlands or a 2 bedroom flat in Nottingham.

London – Interestingly when I started this research I thought that I would have nothing to put in the London section! However, you can buy property in London for £195,000 and the selection includes – a garage in Knightsbridge (OK not exactly a habitable property!), and a selection of 1,2 bedroom and studio flats around the outskirts of London including Greenwich, Catford, Wanstead, Wembley and Walthamstow. The majority of property avaiable at this price was in the east and south east of London so if you are looking to buy in London on a small budget those might be better areas to focus on. The map bel;ow shows the distribution of properties between £190-200k in the London area available in June 2015.

London Property £190-200k June 2015
London Property £190-200k June 2015

South West – the South West also covers quite a wide area so a big variety of prices but £195k can still get you some good property. You could buy a 2 bedroom terraced house in Plymouth, a 3 bedroom town house in Taunton, a 1 bedroom apartment in Newquay,  or a 3 bedroom semi detached in Paignton.

South East – In the South East, once again as you would expect in a London commuter belt, there is a bit less choice for your £195k. You could buy a 1 bedroom flat in Redhill, a 3 bedroom end of terrace in Deal, Kent, a 2 bedroom park home in Hailsham, East Sussex or a 2 bedroom flat in Eastbourne.

So, looking at the research, £195k would in fact buy you a pretty average home (if we call a 3 bed semi an average home) over the majority of England. It is only really once you get to London and the South East that you won’t get anywhere near as much for your money for £195k and you will be looking for flats in London and flats or terraced houses in the South East (if you are lucky!).

Cheap Property Inventory

Renting Property in the UK

If you are renting out property in the UK then there are quite a number of things that you need to do and rules that you need to comply with before you can rent out your house or your buy to let property.

Although you do not actually have to have a property inventory carried out, it is a good idea to do so to protect not only yourself but also the tenant.

If you have a letting agent managing your property then they will likely either have a company that will carry out the property inventory for you or be able to do it themselves. However, this can be quite expensive and can cost in the region of around £100 or more to carry out a property inventory when the tenant moves in.

If you are looking to maximise your profit then it is possible to carry out your owncheap property inventory.

Why Do You Need A Property Inventory?

Under the current rules you must place the tenants deposit in a registered deposit scheme. Under the rules of this scheme, if you want to claim back any money from the tenant after they have vacated the property, for example if they have caused any damage or removed any of your property, then you must have proof of why you want to claim the money from them.

The best way to do this is to have a fully completed property inventory that is signed off by both the landlord and the tenant when the tenant moves in.

Not only should the property inventory include any property, fixtures and fittings etc that are left in the property, it should also include a condition report stating (preferably with pictures) the condition of the property in the event of any dispute about damage.

Cheap Property Inventory

So, if you want to save some money then you can do the property inventory yourself. However, it is good to go through a standard format to make sure that you cover everything that you need to and make the property inventory thorough and one that will stand up to any queries that may arise when the tenant vacates.

So you can find a cheap property inventory at shops like WH Smith. They have them available for around £20 together with other forms for landlords. Or you can find them for less than £10 on Amazon. There are currently a couple on offer so check out this cheap property inventory for starters. It includes templates for the property inventory plus guidance notes for the correct way of completing that and the statement of condition of the property.

Homeowners Insurance

These days it seems to be a catch 22 that homeowners insurance is more important than ever when people have less money than ever to pay for things that they may start to consider as ‘luxury’.

But never forget that homeowners insurance is not some sort of extra that you can choose to have or not, but instead could save everything that you have worked for in your life.

In these times of changing weather patterns, whether it be global warming or not, with storms of all categories, earthquakes and other natural disaster, as well as the fact that thousands of homes are destroyed by fire every year (and people killed or injured), you really can’t afford to be without homeowners insurance.

However, if you do need to cut down on costs then you should look around for a competitive quote to compare to your current insurance. You can also call your current insurance company and see if they can reduce your premium for you by taking out some of the extras that may not be necessary and perhaps increasing your deductible. They may also be able to give you some other advice on reducing your homeowners insurance by making your home a ‘safer bet’ to insure by for example, adding window locks or installing a burglar alarm.

Any good insurance company should be able to help you with saving costs on your homeowners insurance, so if yours does not then be sure to look around for one that will help you, but whatever happens, try and make sure you keep up with your premiums.