Home econcomics: Answering your property questions
Personal Finance expert Sinead Ryan answers your property questions.
Question: I have a tenant in an apartment since March 2016 on a fixed 12-month tenancy agreement. I would like to increase the rent from April 2017 with the same tenant on a new agreement for a further 12 months. It is my belief that the current rent being paid is below market value and I would like to increase it to market value, an increase of more than 4pc. You might advise whether I am able to do this.
Answer: I'm afraid not. According to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB), for all tenancies in existence on or before 24 December 2016, you cannot review the rent until 24 months have elapsed from the commencement of the lease, unless "substantial" refurbishments have been completed. This would mean the earliest increase would only be permitted from March 2018.
The RTB adds, "You will then need to check if the dwelling falls within a Rent Pressure Zone (check the list of RPZ on www.rtb.ie) and, if so, use the formula provided to indicate the maximum increase." The number of Zones has been expanded this week to include many commuter towns. For new tenancies, commencing after 24 December 2016, rent can be reviewed every 12 months, if they are in an RPZ.
A landlord is required to notify the RTB of the revised rent so that the registration details can be updated.
Question: I was awarded a portion of land arising out of divorce proceedings. My ex-husband farms the remainder. Several months ago, he fenced off a couple of acres of my land below the boundary wall.
It transpired, as a result of a surveyor's intervention, that his septic tank had not been allowed for in the settlement.
His solicitor has now proposed using about two thirds of the fenced-off land to construct a percolation area.
I believe that because he has had the tank since about 1997 - before the 2011 legislation making percolation areas compulsory - I should have no responsibility towards furnishing him with land to build one now. The settlement simply referred to a septic tank.
Answer: You have two issues here: the one relating to the divorce agreement and, secondly, to the land. This is tricky, so I asked solicitor Cara Walsh of Mullany Walsh Maxwells to advise. She says: "Whatever the legal position, it is a shock to find that someone has fenced off your land without your permission.
"It is not clear from your question whether or not the septic tank was specifically defined in the settlement and it is possible that one written up at the doors of the Court is, in retrospect, not very clear, and you should ask a solicitor to carefully review it to advise exactly who was to get what.
"If, at the time of the divorce, the percolation area already existed under the land which was then transferred to you, then your ex-husband may have acquired the right for it to remain there.
"It sounds, however, that he had a septic tank inspection, arising from which he wants to construct a new percolation area.
"You have no obligation to give him your land for this purpose and if it clearly belongs to you, then he should not have fenced it off without asking.
"Perhaps this is the only suitable place for the percolation area, in which case you should try to reach an agreement that you are both happy with, as you will be neighbours for a long time.
"But if you cannot reach an agreement, you must consult a solicitor sooner rather than later so that he does not acquire rights to the land fenced off."
The Ryan Review
There's nothing like a populist bandwagon to get politicians jumping on board, even as it's galloping out of Dodge City.
Capping mortgage interest rates is already a no-go. It's most likely unconstitutional, notwithstanding the nationalisation of three and a bit of our six banks, and in any event the ECB won't allow it.
Mario Draghi went so far as to say any such order would "damage the credibility" of the Central Bank, the ECB and even the euro itself, begob.
That didn't deter Fianna Fáil from introducing a bill anyway, which seeks to remove commercial rights from commercial organisations and place them in the hands of legislators and the authorities. With Minister Noonan hoping to flog off AIB later this year, such a notion would go down like a lead balloon with investors.
Yes, we pay more in interest rates than our counterparts, and it is the sorry variable rate mortgagees who are subsidising the lucky tracker-holders.
But capping SVRs is definitely not the solution. Competition is, and selling off the state-owned banks is a vital step.
If FF is so inclined to meddle in the free market, why not cap the baggage fees charged by airlines, service charges on concert tickets, or the price of cappuccinos, for that matter? The voters won't mind.