Dear Mary: How can we avoid getting stuck with a useless cleaner?

Q. We have moved house from north to south London. For me one of the chief pluses is that we no longer need to employ the same cleaner who has blighted my life for years by being useless. My wife, who is a soft touch, could never bring herself to sack the woman for fear of ‘hurting her feelings’. How can we avoid repeating the mistake (with going rates as much as £15 an hour)? We don’t know any of our new neighbours to ask for recommendations. — B.B., London SW17 A. Advertise in a newsagent’s window. It is important to mention the hourly rate you are prepared to pay