Home Economics: Answering your property questions
Personal Finance expert Sinead Ryan answers your property questions.
Q. I recently joined Airbnb as a host after a friend did so; our houses are quite near the airport as I work there as a flight attendant. I'm often away and it's ideal. To be safe, I told my insurance company but they said they wouldn't cover me for it and I would have to cancel my policy with them if I wanted to do Airbnb. Should I not have told them that I was doing Airbnb and will I be able to get any cover for my home now?
Sinead replies: I think you were right to tell them. If you hadn't and a claim had arisen, they may not have covered it anyway. I asked Deirdre McCarthy of www.insuremyhouse.ie for her advice on this topical, but tricky issue.
"Unfortunately, we get asked this question quite frequently as Airbnb has become so popular. You were right to advise your current insurance company as most standard home insurance policies will not cover what is termed 'mixed use' of a property.
"Full disclosure is always vital when it comes to home insurance - though its importance is often not something people realise until they need to make a claim. When it comes to renting out a room or a property on Airbnb, you are affectively using your home as an owner-occupier and a holiday home rental at the same time. Not all insurers offer policies that will cover you in this instance. However, some do, so your next step should be to seek out these insurers and put cover in place."
A good broker will help you with this and, bear in mind, Airbnb also provides its own insurance within the letting fee you pay them to cover damage/breakages etc arising from guests staying. This is worth mentioning to the broker (the details of the policy can be found on their website for hosts).
Q. I own the last house in a terrace of four. My drain blocks from time to time and it's becoming more frequent. The pipeline ends in my garden for the entire row and the rest of my neighbours' houses seem fine (they say), but one of them is causing the blockage according to my plumber. Do I have any legal standing to get them to pay? How would I go about this? I put a note in each letterbox, but only my next door neighbour responded, saying it wasn't anything to do with her as she's out most of the time.
A. Neighbourly disputes are always annoying and have a nasty habit of escalating into something bigger than was originally intended, so I'd tread carefully if I were you. You could issue your plumber's report to them in the first instance and show your evidence. Susan Cosgrove of Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors advises: "It is most likely that this drain is not public but that point should be checked. Assuming it is a private drain, then it is the responsibility of the owners of the four houses in the terrace and so any blockage or issue until it reaches the public mains is a matter for these owners.
"The best route forward is to try to agree and have a written agreement signed between all four owners setting out the apportionment of costs and commitment to pay regarding annual repairs and maintenance. However, this is not always possible with neighbours.
"If agreement cannot be reached, you will need to identify the specific location and cause of the issue. A drainage company with a camera will be best placed to assist. This will locate the owner with the problem. It is their obligation to fix a drainage issue under land.
"If they refuse, it is worth noting you can bring a neighbour to court if it can be shown the drain is causing a nuisance and you are being denied access or, alternatively, they are failing to undertake the necessary work."
The Ryan Review
At the risk of upsetting Disraeli's ghost, what's the difference between a statistic and a damned lie? Well, a Government press release, of course! Thank goodness for the Central Statistics Office's reliance on, oh, facts and stuff when it comes to housing.
We've been told repeatedly that the housing strategy is well underway with 51,329 new houses built since the last census, homelessness will soon be a thing of the past and all those empty and derelict boom-time apartments strewn around the country will be filled with grateful, happy families.
Then the CSO ruined the whole spin by giving us, eh, statistics. They tell a depressing story.
There has been a net increase in housing stock of just 8,800 in the last five years, while 183,312 homes remain completely vacant, 52pc in urban areas and 10,000 within 1km of a town. The figure does not include holiday homes.
As with all things statistical, definitions are all important - that is where the substantial divergence lies. As we have no national housing register, the Government counts electricity connections as a way of measuring new housing. This is patently ridiculous but even so, the gap takes some explaining.
In fact, 33,436 houses were built in five years (many once-off rural dwellings). Not everyone ticks the box on house age and the ESB figures are in fairyland since double counting for reconnections after vacancy is common.
What now? Well, expect more spin. Then more statistics. And then…
Nothing approaching a comfort level for the proposed 25,000 new homes Minister Coveney claims will be built each year.