So trivial, yet it really ticks you off.

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by GHT, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,156
    Location:
    New Forest
    In the UK we have a local tax called the council tax. Local services are funded by Council Tax. It pays for, amongst others, police and fire services, leisure and recreation projects such as the upkeep of parks and sports centres, libraries and education services, rubbish & waste collection, and disposal. Transport and highway services including street lighting and cleaning, and road maintenance, environmental health and trading standards, administration and record keeping, like births, deaths & marriages, and local elections.

    The tax we pay is correlated to the market price of your property, whether you rent or own it. The tax is defined by bands listed from A, being the lowest, to H, being the highest. The most common band is D. The bands from E to H are quite high and can put prospective buyers off.

    When we bought this place is was a second home, we were still living in London at the time. Once we moved and sold our London home we invested in upgrading and improving this place. I should have been more careful. When you do any renovations or building alterations you must first apply for planning permission. Once granted your work can go ahead, when completed the planning officer will call to inspect the work to ensure everything remains within the remit of the planning application. The planning office is a department of the council. Now the council know my property has grown substantially. The former band was D, it was increased to F. I was going to appeal but I had a word with a local estate agent (realtor) who checked the property over and told me that I had been lucky, there were other properties in the area that were similar in size to mine that had been banded G, and if I lost my appeal I could well have been upgraded to G. I shut up.

    But you are right about the maintenance bills. No matter how much you set aside there's always something that happens that you couldn't foresee. One year we had a burst water pipe, another time our central heating boiler (furnace) gave up the ghost. It's never ending, but this property would be out of our price range if it had been in London, or any other place where prices have escalated beyond the reach of most. So we pay, grit our teeth and get on with it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  2. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    8,614
    Location:
    My mother's basement
    ^^^^^
    Property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs. It’s never-ending.

    I’m now getting bids for a new fence. The existing one has maybe a year or two left in it. Gonna need a new garage door on roughly the same timeline. Pleased that the water heater and HVAC systems were fairly new when we bought the place. But in the five years we’ve lived here we’ve replaced all the flooring except for the vinyl plank in the kitchen (I’m not in love with it, but it’s in good shape so I’ll live with it ’til it isn’t), painted every interior surface, did a remo-lite in the kitchen, remo’ed the bathroom (to better accommodate the wheelchair using member of this household), put in French doors where a slider was (ditto), and repoured the concrete driveway. I’d like to repaint the exterior, but it’s like that vinyl plank in the kitchen — we wouldn’t have chosen the colors, but it’s in solid condition so we live with it for now.

    A friend recently had to save her half-brother’s house when he was in danger of losing it to the taxman. It turned out that his mother’s bought-and-paid-for house in which he resided since her death six years earlier he had neglected to insure or pay the taxes on since he took up residence there. So this old friend of mine and her sister and their respective spouses dug in to their own pockets to put out that fire.

    And then the brother died. Liver failure did it. He just couldn’t put down the bottle. But thanks to his aunts and uncles, at least the departed sot’s kid has an inheritance.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
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  3. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,156
    Location:
    New Forest
    That reminded me of a crime drama where the coroner said the victim, "liked a drink." Then added, "it sounds so much nicer than, cirrhosis of the liver. "Have you ever hear the expression, one law for us another for them?" A news item in the UK Press today:

    A Cambridge University educated junior doctor who was caught drink driving twice has been declared fit to practise medicine after a disciplinary panel ruled she posed no risk to patients. Dr Lauren Fowler, 27, drank white wine with friends over lunch then crashed her Ford car in an area busy with pedestrians. The medic was so drunk she was barely able to speak when police arrived at the scene and officers found an empty bottle of wine in the foot well of her car. Dr. Fowler was bailed but stopped again less than two months later after she consumed half a bottle of vodka then drove around a hotel car park near her family's home in Styal, Cheshire. Tests showed she was more than three times the drink drive limit. In 2018, Dr. Fowler admitted drink driving and failing to provide a breath specimen but got a suspended prison sentence after claiming she had an addiction to alcohol due to the stress of studying medicine at Imperial College London. The medic then faced a misconduct hearing at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester, where she was told she could only continue working in medicine under supervision.
     
  4. Hercule

    Hercule Practically Family

    Messages:
    702
    Location:
    Western Reserve (Cleveland)
    Oh come on folks, we just bought a house. You're not helping our first-time home owner anxiety!
     
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  5. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The only thing worse than owning a house is getting evicted from a rental.
     
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  6. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    8,614
    Location:
    My mother's basement
    Just be thankful it isn’t a boat. At least with a dry structure on dry land you stand a chance of someday recouping what you put into it.

    Oh, and congratulations.
     
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  7. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    8,614
    Location:
    My mother's basement
    That’s among the drawbacks of renting — the knowing you can get the boot with little more than a couple-three months warning, if that.

    Nothing is permanent, but we like to think our homes will always be there.
     
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  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    That's the only reason I bought my house. I got a note in my mailbox saying the landlord intended to sell out and I had thirty days to either buy the place or vacate. I couldn't vacate in thirty years, let alone thirty days, so I had to find a way to make it happen. Thank Franklin D. for the USDA Rural Development Loan Program (formerly the Farmers Home Administration, formerly the Farm Security Administration, formerly the Resettlement Administration.)
     
  9. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,956
    Location:
    The Great Pacific Northwest

    I'll nominate owning two homes.

    We owned our vacation home outright, so no second mortgage. In an If Worse Comes to Worse scenario it seemed like a haven during the financial upheavals of 2008. But we rented the place out to vacationers, and the obvious pebbles buried us there. I could write a screenplay based upon anecdotes of idiot vacationers that broke or ruined our furniture and furnishings. Our cabin seemed to attract 300 pound halfwits who would turn our kitchen chairs to kindling like a magnet.

    At one time we had planned on retiring to that venue (North Woods of Wisconsin) by purchasing another larger home for us and keeping the cabin as an investment. The more we got to know the region on a year round basis, however, the more unattractive that option became. The natural beauty in winter is quite breathtaking, but the social isolation is just as stifling. (And then there were the insular and reactionary political inclinations of the locals. We opted for a "No, thank you.") In the summer months the tourists and vacationers descended like locusts, and given that our place was under condo ownership on a former resort property, the idea of enjoying a little peace & quiet in July, August, or even September became absurd.

    The saving grace was the tax advantages we had by running it as a business, a business that never showed a profit. Property values there really took a hit after 2008 and never rebounded. We finally sold it at a financial loss... but when you stack up the tax breaks of fifteen years, we actually came out ahead. Tax laws have changed since then, so, as they say, "Those days are no more."

    All that having been said, we had many enjoyable time there. While the boys were growing up we had wonderful experiences on the 1600 acre- plus lake. We owned a little 17 foot Bayliner runabout, and the kids would waterski and tube in the summer. The one kid loved to fish. The low speed boat rides at dusk and after dark were very relaxing for my wife and I. And in winter, a blazing fire in our fieldstone fireplace made for serene evenings. Wasn't all headaches, truth be told.
     
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  10. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,956
    Location:
    The Great Pacific Northwest
    My college roomie and his wife (lifetime friends) financed their home through that program. Forty two years, two grown kids, and three granddaughters later, they're still there. I'd say that program did a lot of good.
     
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  11. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    14,419
    Location:
    New York City
    We looked at it this way, unless you are okay living outdoors, we are all, in finance terms, born "short" housing, so our only options are to rent, buy or sponge somewhere to live.

    If you rent - as we did for decades - you basically are short-term "flat" housing (you have what you need), but long-term still "short" (you'll need housing in the future and don't presently own it).

    Hence, if you buy a modest house / apt that meets your needs, you basically are just "covering your short" as you now own the housing you need. If you stay "short" and housing prices and rents go up, you quickly learn the pain of being short. If they fall, well, then it's better at that moment to have been "short -" a renter.

    So, in theory only, buying a modest home / apt reduces some of your housing "risk" as taxes and maintenance are almost always less volatile than rents.

    But of course, it's much more complicated than that as housing is a "negative-cash-flow" asset - taxes, maintenance, etc. - so you have to try to estimate the opportunity cost of tying up capital (or leveraging your capital via a mortgage) versus the rent you pay and the return you'd earn on an alternative investment.

    And, there's the local market particulars to consider, as well as, life-change risk - will you have to move, etc., and sell at an inopportune time? And, clearly, there are more scenarios, risks, rewards and tradeoffs that figure into it.

    In the end, we decided that, for us, in NYC - where rents are really, really high and zoom up whenever the city gets hot, but are "sticky" on the way down - along with where we were at in our lives, that we wanted to buy a modest apartment to get ourselves "flat" NYC real estate. So we bought something we could easily afford and should be able to easily maintain. We bought a lot less "housing" than most people like us would.

    It wasn't so much that we thought it was a "good" investment as we thought it was a good housing-market risk-mitigation move. We now are not "short" housing and are not subject to the insanely volatile rental market. And psychologically, it's nice - as Lizzie noted - to no longer have to worry about moving every time our lease would come up.
     
  12. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,931
    Location:
    Gads Hill, Ontario
    Splunge.
     
  13. Hercule

    Hercule Practically Family

    Messages:
    702
    Location:
    Western Reserve (Cleveland)
    Thank you.

    I always vowed to be a lifelong renter, with no property responsibilities and content with the notion of being able to simply make a phone call if something breaks. And that has been fine thus far and would probably continue to be so. It's been the wife and son that have been itching for a place of our own. Despite the present circumstances (covid) the opportunity presented itself and we found a house within a week and closed 28 days later. In the end the mortgage is less than our previous rent. The hemorrhage of $$ setting the house up has all but stopped and I have to admit that it's nice not having anyone above or below is to be mindful of outside of business hours.
     
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  14. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    Messages:
    14,419
    Location:
    New York City
    I understand that.

    Good luck in your new home.
     
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  15. Touchofevil

    Touchofevil

    Messages:
    12,127
    Location:
    Northern California
    People and Driving. Two different boneheads within 3 minutes of eachother thought that they needed to make a right turn. Bonehead 1 realized that wasn’t the case and sat and sat waiting to get into the lane to the left. We went through a few lights before B1 decided to switch lanes. This was after earlier running a stop sign. Bonehead 2 was in the right turn lane as well a few minutes later at a different intersection, but decided cutting me off to go straight was the better option. The beat up look of their truck makes believe that this is their normal.
    Home is great.
    :D
     
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  16. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    7,156
    Location:
    New Forest
    There seems to be people who are just going out for a drive a lot more due possibly, to lockdown cabin fever. Have they forgotten the highway rules? It's not uncommon to see a motorist chance it as the lights change but yesterday a fellow, of an age to know better, ran the red light on a bicycle. It was the foghorn noise from the truck that narrowly missed him that made me, and many others turn to see. The look on the cyclist's face suggested that he won't need any constipation cures for a while.
     
  17. Hercule

    Hercule Practically Family

    Messages:
    702
    Location:
    Western Reserve (Cleveland)
    I am yet to see a bicyclist obey traffic rules. Maybe one in a hundred does but I never see it. They just don't do it where I live.
     
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  18. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The more kitted-out in Expensive Bicycle Gear a bicyclist is, the less likely that bicyclist is to observe the rules of the road. At least that's been my observation around here.
     
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  19. belfastboy

    belfastboy I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,241
    Location:
    vancouver, canada
    The range of HOA fees for similar properties can vary widely. The Strata Management companies that hire and pay the contractors generally don't care that much about the cost.....they just want to move the paper off their desk....somewhat like government spending our tax dollars. It requires an involved and knowledgeable Strata Council to oversee the budget and grind the nickels. I live in such a complex and our fees are upwards of 40% less because we steward the expenditures.
     
  20. tonyb

    tonyb I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    8,614
    Location:
    My mother's basement
    Bicyclists who stridently assert their rights to the road and insist that all other road users strictly adhere to the traffic laws and then decide it’s fine that they themselves cross against the lights and go lickety-split on sidewalks, etc., well, they’re annoying at best. That’s certainly not all bicyclists, and not even most. But it’s still too many.

    But really, cars (and trucks and buses and ...) and bicyclists on the same patch of pavement is a terrible mix. Grade separation is what’s needed. Alas, in many places that’s darned nigh impossible at anything short of an astronomical cost.

    However, I have seen in a few places a scheme that puts the narrow bike lane next to the curb, with the parking lane next to it, toward the center of the road, and then the motor vehicle traffic lane(s). That puts parked cars between the bikes and the moving cars, which offers considerably more protection than a white stripe on the pavement. And it has the added benefit of cutting down on bicyclists getting “doored.”
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020

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