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Box Stories

People love stories. People are keen to display their ‘green’ credentials. Here’s an idea that combines these two facts.

Ebay have designed a strong re-usable box with space on the side for each successive user to write in some information about their role in the boxes life and to send a message to the next user. The boxes history can also be tracked via a virtual online community. Needless to say, once the boxes life is over, it is fully recyclable.

Ebay has printed 100,000 boxes like this. Aside from the environmental ‘Brownie points’ they get for doing this, they get additional exposure and consumer involvement with the brand through the story element of the process.

Is there some way you could build a story element into your product, brand or packaging?  Imagine a car rental company for example. Wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to see who had hired your car before and what they’d used it for? There have to be hundreds of applications of this ‘story’ idea in different businesses and sectors.

Rent-A-Room Advice

The government's Rent-A-Room Scheme allows you to earn up to £4,250 a year tax-free from renting a furnished room in your home. Check out www.direct.gov.uk. Property expert Jo Thornhill offers additional advice, ‘Ensure your mortgage lender has no issue or conditions regarding letting a room to a non-family member. Some mortgage agreements prevent this.’
 
She adds, ‘Tell your home insurance provider that you have a lodger. In some cases this may increase premiums, but if you do not disclose the information you could render any policies invalid should you need to claim.’
 
Plus, ‘It is advisable to get something in writing between you and your lodger. This should include details of the rent charged and any deposit and procedures if either party wants to end the arrangement.’ Useful websites are lawpack.co.uk and lodgerlandlord.co.uk.

TL Scam Alert

If you are offered a heavily discounted buy-to-let property from someone you don’t know and trust, be warned about the latest scam.   A con-artist goes on Right Move (and similar sites) and lifts details. They then put together an HMTL email or PDF featuring a number of houses in in-demand rental hotspots such as London with huge discounts of up to 40 per cent and email it to anyone and everyone.  
 
The con-artist provides a range of figures to show that these make perfect BTL investments, takes relatively modest deposits of £1,000 and then disappears. There are often tell-tale warning signs because the con-artist is not up-to-speed on the (BTL) property market; mortgage rates may be quoted with up to 85 per cent LTV, the comparables may not stack up etc. Do your due diligence on the agent, bring in the solicitor at an early stage etc.

Protect Your Home

According to chartered surveyor Tom Grillo at www.grillollp.com, it’s time to protect your home for the winter. You should; check the roofs for broken or missing tiles or slates and other damage; clear out leaves, moss and debris from rainwater gutters, downpipes and gullies and reset any displaced joints; check the insulation and consider increasing it
 
Also, have the boiler and heating serviced and check that all thermostats and programmers are working and set at a sensible temperature; ensure outside doors and the windows fit well and consider fitting draught-proofing strips where there are gaps between the frames.
 
Draw curtains after dark and use thicker ones if windows are single-glazed; keep south-facing curtains open during the day to take advantage of the sunshine which will help heat the house; check the woodwork on windows and repair now if necessary; check the paintwork on the window frames and redecorate before the weather deteriorates.


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