Tuesday 26 September 2017

Do I have right to my caretaker's cottage after retirement?

My EMPLOYER provides me with a small gate-house where I've lived for 20 years as a caretaker/handyman. I'm due to retire later this year and have been told I must vacate the property. I have always paid rent. Have I any rights?

It seems to me your employer is making a specific link between your occupation of the residence and your employment term. As you are retiring, they believe you are no longer entitled to live there, but you see it as your permanent home. The question, then, is if you have a formal lease or if the property is a "perk" of the job.

Susan Cosgrove, of Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors says, "If a lease exists, your retirement date may leave you six months into a new four-year period. In this case, under the Residential Tenancies 2004 Act, you will be entitled to renew the tenancy for up to four years.

There was a relief known as 'long-occupation equity', which entitled a tenant to claim a renewable lease of up to 35 years if occupied for more than 20 years, but this was abolished in 2009.

Because you've been paying rent, you have no rights under adverse possession (squatter's rights). Ironically, that may pose you with another problem: Revenue doesn't like "nominal" rent. It generally prefers fair market value to be paid by a tenant. I presume the difference has been charged as a Benefit in Kind on your tax return.

We spent eight years renovating our house and are almost finished. When completed, we want to sell up and retire to the sun. I'm keen to sell by auction rather than with an agent, as we don't want to just advertise locally, but overseas. How would we go about this? We live in a rural area about 20 miles from Limerick.

Auction vs private sale is a perennial question. Selling is the key issue -- how you do it should be a lesser one.

Brian Dempsey, Associate Director, DNG Nationwide says, "When auctions work, they work very well. However, in the current market, a summer auction is usually not successful. I would recommend you give strong consideration to a private-treaty sale, maximising your possibilities, not restricting you to unnecessary deadlines and, all going well, seeing you on your journey as soon as possible.

Consult three local estate agents who are members of a recognised professional body eg IPAV or the SCSI. Include at least one who is a member of a national network. They will advise on the feasibility of an auction, an asking price and a suitable marketing campaign for your property.

"All agents worth their salt should give you global market access via good websites at an affordable price. An architectural photographer pays dividends and gives particular attention to detail to ensure your brochure is well presented," Mr Dempsey adds.

"Contact your solicitor to ensure your title (deeds) is in good stead and any required certificates for extensions, conversions, etc, are in place, along with a building energy certificate. This will prevent unnecessary delays further down the line."

siryan@independent.ie

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