Home Economics: Answering your property questions
Q: We put a deposit down on a house 18 months ago but it turns out the vendor is insolvent and we cannot get any information from the auctioneer. We were told the sale would close last Christmas, then it was May. Meantime we are still renting with our family on hold. Papers are moving from solicitors to PIPs (the house is with AIB). What is the hold up and is there anything we can do? Our deposit is still with the auctioneer.
A. This must be annoying, and I think you have been more than patient so far. Properties on hold in insolvency cases can be messy, especially if the owner is fighting the process. To be honest, my first instinct would be to quit while you're ahead, and put your energies into finding another property.
I asked Cara Walsh, partner with Mullany Walsh Maxwells Solicitors what she thinks, and she says: "Eighteen months is a long time to wait for a house; no wonder you are frustrated. You have not said what stage the legal side of things is at. If the deposit is still with the auctioneer, that suggests that contracts have not yet been signed and exchanged. If that is the case then there is nothing binding you to this sale and both sides can walk away.
If you do not already have a solicitor you should consult one who can review your paperwork and confirm if you are bound to buy this property. He or she can also advise on the likely cause of the hold up. Perhaps, given the long delays, it is time to consider looking at another property.
Usually any deposit given to an auctioneer is a booking deposit until contracts are signed. These booking deposits are fully refundable so you should ensure it is repaid to you".
Q. I left full time work last year to be a full-time mum to my son, but have decided I'm enjoying it so much I want to mind a couple of other children at home in addition to my own, and earn some money.
Can you tell me what, if any, requirements there are to do this from a financial and legal perspective?
I know I can earn the money tax free as my neighbour does this also, but do I need special house insurance or fire or safety certificates?
This is a great idea, and childminding was one of the features of the recent Budget.
A childminder can earn up to €15,000 tax free pa if they register with the city/county childcare committee of the local authority (although you will be required to pay €253 in PRSI contributions). You will need to undergo Garda vetting (this process is most easily done with Barnardos, but it will take time due to the back log).
The new childcare subsidy announced in the Budget can be paid to you as long as you are Tusla registered so this will certainly help with costs and keep parents happy.
I asked Brian Nelis of the Irish Brokers Association about your insurance.
He says that you need to advise your insurer about the business as it would not be normally covered under your house policy. You may need separate 'Homeworkers' cover.
They will ask questions regarding the rooms being used, any modifications and the numbers of children and visitors. Parents may ask to see this policy, so it's a good idea to get it in place.
Have a look at the excellent guide on www.childminding.ie which shows all the duties and obligations of being a childminder.
You do not need to notify the HSE of your services as long as you don't mind more than three children, but you can voluntarily do so.
It will let you access the supports, networks and training available which may be helpful and avail of the Childminding Development Grants to help buy toys and equipment.
The Ryan Review
The widening of Inheritance tax bands in the Budget was welcome, if a tad on the conservative side.
The 'Category A' tax free threshold is now €310,000, up from €280,000.
That's going to be a small help to those being left the family home, but it won't have had a great impact on singletons or indeed, other categories.
For example, nieces and nephews, being left property, especially if it's in Dublin where in the south of the county, average houses prices are around €525,000, or if an only child inherits, it means they will still be collared for tax of €70,950.
This is a charge so onerous it would result, for many of them, in selling the very asset they were left, to pay for the enormous tax bill.
If the same property was left to a single grandchild or nephew, the tax would be a whopping €162,504.
There have often been arguments put forward for a special 'Dublin Deposit' when it comes to strict bank rules for new buyers.
Is there also one to be made for a 'Dublin' inheritance threshold for only children? It's unlikely to happen.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has signalled however, that he will continue to increase these tax thresholds and this is good, since CAT is quite an unfair tax, given that the assets bequeathed were bought with already taxed income.
The current rate, at 33pc is one of the highest in Europe.