This morning, Richard had a phone call from the estate agent at 8.30am. She said we needed a lawyer's stamp on the contract for the new house. Richard phoned the lawyer, who said the contract was stamped. He has one of the originals (I can't remember how many we signed - I think it was at least three) and we have photocopies. Sure enough, there's a stamp on our copies.
So Richard called the agent back. Apparently the vendor, who was trying to sort out the capital gains tax on the house, had an unstamped copy. So Richard had to rush down to the estate agent, so she could make a copy of our copy to pass on to the vendor, so the tax people would know the contract was valid. We've heard that sometimes people here try to cheat the tax office by having two different contracts, one with the amount being paid for the house, and another with a significantly lower amount to show to the tax people!
I can quite understand why folk here don't move very often. It's such a hassle, having to sort out all their debts and other papework prior to completion, and then the fee for the deeds transfer is enormous (we have to pay that one). I didn't realise that capital gains tax was also payable by a vendor. In the UK, it's only on second properties, or those bought solely for rental. But here, we gather, it's on all house sales.
We just hope and pray that all his paperwork does get sorted before our planned completion on Monday!
Next, Richard went to the Electricity Board, to get our name registered for the new house from July 1st.
But... simply knowing the address was no good. Their database is not searchable by address, or so they said!! They wanted to know the meter number, which of course he had no idea about. So they asked for the current owner's name. He had that, on the contract, and they can search by name. But the house wasn't registered in her name at the Electricity Board.
However... they did find her name listed at another property. Perhaps the one they're now renting, or the new one they're having built. Attached to her name was her mobile phone number. So the Electricity Board called that number, and asked her for the name of the people paying the bills at the house we're buying. I guess it must be her parents, as they lived downstairs. Once the Electricity Board had their names, they were able to find the property on their database, and register Richard as the new owner.
He went to the office for an hour, then as he was coming home for lunch, he met a worried-looking person who asked him if he knew where the Water Board was, and was very relieved that Richard spoke English. This man said he had recently moved to Cyprus, and had just received a water bill for £2000!! Since our normal bill is about £10-15 for three months, it sounds as if the previous owners must have run up a debt over many years. I don't know why they didn't get cut off, if so.
Alternatively there might have been some mistake or problem with the water meter. But it did remind us that when we go to collect the keys of our new house on Saturday morning, we must ask the vendor where the electricity and water meters are, and also make a note of the readings.
As for packing, we did a bit more in the kitchen last night. All the recipe books, most of the plastics we're not using, more glassware... Richard did most of it, as ever. Dan's room is about three-quarters full now. There still seem to be a lot of bits and pieces lying around in every room, but since we'll take several days to move, it doesn't really matter.