Friday 27 April 2018

Can I get compensation - and my money back - after handyman damaged my home?

If you employ a tradesman to carry out a service for you, by law he is required to do so with proper care and attention.
If you employ a tradesman to carry out a service for you, by law he is required to do so with proper care and attention.

Fergal O'Leary

I hired a handyman to do some repair work to the roof of my house. However, I am very unhappy with the standard of the work. Also, while he was repairing the roof, he damaged an inner wall in the house. I am concerned that this damage could be structural. I did not become aware of this damage until after the roof 'repair' job had been done. By that stage, I had paid the handyman. What are my rights should the handyman refuse to correct the damage? Am I entitled to a refund? Am I entitled to any compensation should the damage to the wall be structural - and how would I go about claiming it? Gemma, Co Wicklow

If you employ a tradesman to carry out a service for you, by law he is required to do so with proper care and attention. He should have the appropriate skills to do the work. Any materials he uses should be fit for purpose and any goods he supplies to you as part of the service should be of acceptable quality too.

If you are unhappy with the work, or feel that the tradesman didn't provide a proper service with due care and diligence, used faulty materials, or didn't complete the job as agreed, you are entitled to have the problem sorted out by him.

You should talk to the tradesman and explain why you are not happy. It is always best to try to agree a resolution with the tradesman in the first instance. Failing this, you can take legal action using the Small Claims procedure if the job was for less than €2,000. If the job was for more than that, you will have to seek legal advice on the options available to you.

With regard to the structural damage, if the tradesman was registered, accepts responsibility and has insurance, you may be able to claim on his policy. Another option is to claim under your own home insurance policy. Every policy is different and you should speak to your insurance company about making a claim. However, if you do claim, you may have to pay any excess and it will impact on your premium when you renew.

I recently booked my holiday accommodation directly with a property owner, after finding his details on a reputable website for holiday lettings. When I made the initial contact, he asked me to use an email address that differed to the one on the site, as he explained he did not check his messages there very often.

I sent him a large deposit using money transfer. I have since tried to contact him to pay the balance but he is not returning my calls or emails. What are my next steps?

Leanne, Raheny, Dublin 5

Unfortunately it appears you may have been scammed. Scammers sometimes pose as fake hosts on reputable accommodation websites. They copy the photos, addresses and information from various listings and then use this information to post a fake listing. This scam is designed to encourage holidaymakers to pay the full rental price or at least a sizeable deposit upfront. If you feel you have been scammed, you should contact the accommodation website immediately so it can remove the listing and alert other users to the scam.

If you are booking accommodation, it is advisable that you stay on the website to pay the host as these sites have secure payment systems, and in some cases offer extra protections for consumers. For example, the host might not receive any money until the guests have checked in without any problems. Unfortunately, because you sent your deposit by money transfer, you will be unable to get a refund.

We would always advise consumers to ask the host questions about the property and never give over any personal details. Look for reviews by previous tenants. Finally, be aware of fake sites claiming to be well-known accommodation websites. Research the site and look for reviews of the site to see if other consumers have any negative feedback. The golden rule is, if you have concerns about the website then do not use it.

My son is making his First Communion in a few weeks. I am trying to budget carefully but I am really feeling the pressure when I listen to some of the other parents' plans.

Have you any tips on how to enjoy the day without breaking the bank?

Brenda, Walkinstown, Dublin 12

A first Communion is an exciting time but costs can add up quickly. The first step is to work out how much you can afford to spend. Create a realistic budget and keep track of all your spending. Make a list of everything you have to buy, such as the outfit, accessories and shoes, decide how much you are going to spend on each item and stick to it. If you are using your credit card to pay for some of the costs, have a plan as to how and when you will repay the money.

In terms of the occasion itself, consider something simple such as a nice picnic in one of our many public parks or woodland areas.

Another option might be to ask your child if they would like to visit a particular attraction, with just the immediate family - for example the Zoo or the National Aquatic Centre. Perhaps you could host a party at home and invite friends and family to bring food or drink instead of gifts. Check to see if a family member or friend who is celebrating on the same day would be interested in sharing the cost of a party or event with you.

If co-hosting the event with other families whose children are also having a communion, agree in advance what people will do or bring to help share the cost and the work. Finally, watch out for deals to help minimise your spending.

I am hoping to change my car in July. I was thinking about taking out a hire purchase agreement but the car dealer has recommended I look at a personal contract plan as they are "better value".

What are the differences between the two and which one would you recommend?

Aisling, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan

Car dealers may use persuasive language such as "affordable monthly repayments" when promoting personal contract plans (PCPs), but, as always, it is important to read the small print.

The main reason you might choose a hire purchase agreement or PCP is convenience, as the garage selling you the new car may also arrange your car finance. So it saves you having to apply for a personal loan.

However, a hire purchase or PCP agreement is different from a personal loan because you don't own the car until you have made the last repayment - essentially, you are hiring the car for a period of time, typically between three and five years. This means you cannot sell the car if you run into problems making your repayments.

Similar to a hire purchase agreement, a PCP is an agreement between you and the finance company that will mean repayments for at least three years. A PCP normally involves paying a deposit and relatively small monthly repayments, which can make the plan seem more affordable. However PCPs usually have a very large final payment called the "guaranteed minimum future value" (GMFV) or "balloon payment".

When you come to the end of a PCP you normally have three options - keep the car and pay the final payment (think about how you will afford this, as it can be large), hand back the car (if you have met all the terms and conditions) and make no further payments or trade in the car. You may be able to use any equity in the car as a part-deposit for a new one, but the value of any equity will be at the discretion of the garage.

Don't get caught up in the excitement of buying a new car and sign up at the dealership without fully understanding the terms and conditions. In general when you sign a hire purchase or PCP agreement, the garage will ask you to sign a waiver (within the agreement) waiving your 10-day cooling-off period - which is your right to cancel.

Sunday Indo Business

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business