Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions
Q I will have paid my mortgage in full in the next few months and need to know how I go about getting the title deeds to my house. Does my lender automatically send them to me when I have made the final mortgage payment or do I need to go through a solicitor? If I need to go through a solicitor, what are the costs involved and how long would this take? Also, once I have the title deeds what should I do with them for safe-keeping?
A Firstly, congratulations on paying off your mortgage. It's an envious position to be in and I'm sure you are very relieved. As you mention, it does pose a different challenge, as your house deeds are very important documents and to lose them would cause a great deal of angst later on.
Your email didn't mention which bank you are with, but there aren't any lenders I'm aware of who will voluntarily retain deeds on your behalf any more. I asked KBC, as an example, how their process works and a spokesperson explained, "Typically, on redemption of the mortgage account, a letter will issue to the client acknowledging receipt of payment and that the deeds department has been notified to release title deeds. The lender should automatically issue title deeds to your property within 20 working days from the date of redemption. A client can appoint a solicitor to receive the title deeds to the property after redemption if they so wish, otherwise, the title deeds will issue directly to the customer's correspondence address. Lenders will issue your title deeds by registered post.
If you wish to appoint a solicitor, fees for them will vary, however, and could be between €400 to €700 plus VAT. KBC Bank does not charge a release fee for issuing title deeds after redemption, although some lenders do.
Lenders typically do not store title deeds after redemption. Some solicitors do offer the service, or a client has the option of dealing directly with a secure storage company and placing title deeds there for storage for an annual fee.
Such firms include the likes of Merrion Vaults, Sentinel or even units like Elephant storage or Nesta, who have small deposit boxes available. Storing documents professionally means someone else has the headache of looking after them, but obviously there's an ongoing cost attached.
Q My tenants of three years, who are excellent, have offered to undertake (and pay for) work to make the attic space suitable for a playroom for their two kids. They want to lay a floor, put in a Stira (professionally with a recognised contractor) and are not looking for a contribution from me, just permission as they really need the extra space. I'm happy enough and don't want them to leave, so given they guarantee that nobody will be sleeping there, is there any impediment to me going ahead?
A It sounds like a no-brainer, which obviously makes me concerned straight away. I'm not being cynical, and can see the issue from both sides, so I'm not going to advise either way. But there are a few things I'd like you to consider before giving the go-ahead.
Their reasons seem sound enough. Converting an attic to a playroom is fine, but what happens if they do leave later on, and you have to 'reconvert' it back? Ditto they have a problem with the rent - perhaps one of them loses their job and they look for a discount based on the 'improvements'.
Will your landlord insurance cover the alterations? You'll definitely need to check. What if the contractors they engage aren't, in fact, up to the job or something goes wrong? You'll be left holding the repairs. I'd absolutely talk to them but how about asking for your own builder to come and take a look and dot all your i's before giving the nod.
The Ryan Review
Mortgage switching is still proving slow. Irish people are far more likely these days to shop around for utility providers, mobile phone contracts and big ticket items like cars and personal loans. They'll spend an absolute age on the internet trying to shave €20 off a Ryanair flight or a fiver from Asos, but when it comes to saving thousands of euro we fold our cards in apathy.
Yes, it's messy and time consuming. There's also an upfront cost. But when it comes to the savings that can be made from moving from the highest variable, 4.5pc to the lowest, 2.3pc - around €3,500 a year - even with the same bank, we don't budge. Why? Well it's all down to behavioural economics. The savings are felt over a long time and that lessens the impact, making the effort now seem too big.
The banks cannot be blamed, for once. Many are happy for their customers to make an internal product switch, to help retain them. But maybe they needn't bother. Perhaps a bit of reverse psychology is needed. When health insurance companies want to close a plan, they hike the premium so high that everyone finally grumbles enough to move.
Sinead presents 'The Home Show' on Newstalk 106FM every Saturday from 9am.