independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Who pays for home charge after divorce?

My ex-husband and I were going through our separation in 2009 when the second-home charge came in and we never registered an apartment we jointly own. This year, I alone received a letter regarding the Local Property Tax and realise that we must also pay the second home tax. How is this treated?

You're right – it must be paid. Between interest, penalties and the charge itself, which is €200pa since 2009, you now owe €3,320. What's more – the Revenue deadline is today.

They don't much care which of you pays it – where a property is jointly owned, liability falls on all co-owners, but payment by anyone discharges the liability and it is a matter for you and your ex-husband how you go about this.

If one of you now lives in the property, the situation is different, however.

The Local Government Management Agency says: "If a person is divorced or judicially separated s/he will not be liable to pay the charge where s/he resides in what used to be the family home as his/her principal private residence.

"Where the other party to the divorce or separation does not reside in the original family home but retains an interest in the ownership of the property on foot of the divorce or separation agreement, the Act provides that this person will not be liable for the charge in respect of that property."

See www.nppr.ie for filing arrangements.

We are having difficulties with our mortgage and approached the bank with a view to restructuring. They offered us six months at a reduced rate, but it was still more than we could bear.

We feel if we got an interest-only arrangement or some kind of break for longer we could manage. So, we appealed the decision and now the bank has withdrawn their original offer and told us to sell the house. We feel that is over the top.

Is there any other appeal option?

Oh dear. You're between a rock and a hard place and are being punished by your bank.

Noeline Blackwell of the Free Legal Advice Centre (flac.ie) says you can appeal to the Financial Services Ombudsman under Article 44 of the CCMA.

"There is a downloadable form on the website (financialombudsman.ie) or you can just write in to say you are appealing and fill in whatever documents they need.

"As far as we know in FLAC, this procedure has not been used very much so far.

"We have a concern about what the Ombudsman will look at.

"We do know that they will examine how the various procedures of the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears were applied, to check that it was correctly done.

"What is less clear is if the Ombudsman will examine the substance of the decision and propose a different solution.

"Either way, it is a form of appeal against the internal bank review.

"In fact, the bank should have told you about this when it was notifying you of the outcome of the appeal."

Irish Independent

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