Home economics: Answering your property questions
Q. My husband and I are divorcing and I moved out and bought an apartment with my sister two years ago. I thought my ex was going to stay in the family home and buy me out but now he says he is planning on selling the house. My concern is that I may now be liable for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) as it is no longer my principal private residence (PPR). Does the fact we were married mean I can get the proceeds tax free?
A. This is a sticky one, so I asked Barry Flanagan of Taxback.com for his advice.
He says: "Our interpretation of relevant legislation is that there is potentially a gain here that may not be fully relieved from CGT by PPR relief. At any one time a person may have only one qualifying residence and for this purpose a husband and wife are regarded as one person for CGT purposes so long as they remain 'living together', unless separated by a court order or deed of separation or 'are in fact separated in such circumstances that the separation is likely to be permanent', which seems to be the case here.
"Therefore you would be assessed separately for CGT purposes from the date of separation seemed likely to be permanent; this may mean the day you moved out.
"Therefore PPR relief is available for the period of occupation, plus the last 12 months deemed occupation, as standard. The gain chargeable would be apportioned to account for this. However, in instances where an individual has an interest in two properties, such as this case, there is potentially a solution.
"Where a taxpayer has more than one residence for any period, Revenue may reach agreement as to which of these is to be treated as his/her main residence, provided you give notice in writing to them within two years of the beginning of that period. So contact Revenue and get its agreement that the marital home remains your PPR.
"If Revenue agrees, naturally PPR relief would not be available to you for this period on the other property, should you dispose of it at a later date. It comes down to a question of which gain would be more relieved - the apportioned marital home gain or a potential full gain arising on the apartment. If it is the former, you should contact Revenue as soon as possible to obtain its agreement that it remains your main residence to this day".
Q. My next-door neighbour put in a planning application for a huge double-height extension to the rear of his house. I managed to get it stopped by a number of neighbours writing a letter to the council and thought that was the end of it. He's now dropped in a letter to inform me that he's going ahead anyway, with a downstairs extension to his kitchen. I am furious at the disruption and size of what's proposed - these are old houses and I think it's entirely unnecessary. What can I do now?
A. Not a lot, I'm afraid. Architect Keith Graham MRIAI says: "Planning law allows certain developments to be built without permission - known as exempted development, and are set out in regulations, which can be found on the Department of Environment website.
"In general, a single-storey rear extension can be built up to 40m2 without permission, subject to conditions, including that it cannot reduce the open area to the rear of the house to less than 25m2, nor can it exceed a certain height. It is worth noting that if the building is a protected structure this exemption is not available, and permission is required.
"If you believe the exemption is not being complied with, you should write to the enforcement section of the local authority setting out you reasons, and let them follow up."
For my part, I'd be having a word with your neighbour over the construction details such as noise, access and traffic but to be honest, your view on its necessity or otherwise isn't really relevant; it's his choice - who knows, you may love it and want to copy!
The Ryan Review
Everyone wants to move to Portlaoise.
Well, they probably don't, but judging by the latest house price index you'd imagine the midlands had become the destination of desire for home buyers.
While Dublin prices - which had suffered from a little over-excitable inflation earlier in the year - have settled for a modest 5.4pc year on year growth, with the des-res location of Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown at just 3.5pc, elsewhere it's up to 11pc on average, with the midlands rocking up at 15pc.
It's more to do with playing catch up than anything else, with a little movement among first time buyers to outside Dublin properties playing a part.
You can get a new three-bedroom semi comfortably within the Central Bank's €220,000 10pc deposit limit across vast swathes of the country.
It's only when you hit the M50 it becomes untenable.
The good news is that as we head toward 2017, building is up, credit is better and interest rates remain low.
None of it is enough, but we'll take what we can get.