Home economics: Sinead Ryan answers your property questions
Around five years ago I loaned my son €48,000 to pay off his ex-wife so he could stay in their marital home. I agreed not to charge him interest, but it was always the understanding he would pay me back when he sold the apartment, which was his intention once prices rose.
Now that they have, he should be in a position to do so, but has since met another lady and she moved in with her child. He says he can't afford to sell now, and I'll have to wait. Although I don't want to fall out, I had planned this money for my pension, and I'm now 61. What do you think I should do?
Sinead replies: This is an awful predicament you've found yourself in. I'm presuming from your email that you didn't have a formal signed contract with your son, so I'm afraid that simply leaves you having to appeal to his better nature.
You could outline in strong terms (in a letter maybe) about your intention for the money and remind him you're approaching retirement age shortly and will need it.
It might be an idea also for a close family member to approach him - an uncle or sibling perhaps, and remind him of his obligations to you. I know you don't want to fall out, but this may be an inevitable short-term consequence.
If that doesn't work, I'm afraid your only resolution will be through the legal process.
"With no written agreement setting out the details of the loan and no set timeframe for the repayment of the loan, to proceed, a demand would have to issue for the repayment of the monies within a set timeframe," Susan Cosgrove of Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors says.
She adds: "You can give as long as you require on this, however, it should set out a final date as to when the funds must now be paid back.
"One would hope that this will lead to an agreement being reached on the repayment but if not, court proceedings are the only way to recover the funds, which in itself is not a nice scenario, given it is a family matter.
"I would recommend a letter first of all from you in the matter, but if there is still no response, a letter from your solicitor should follow."
Q. We're moving into our first home from a place we've been renting for six years. We have accumulated lots of stuff but it would probably fit in two large vans on a couple of runs; the house is 25km away. My boyfriend is insisting on a proper removal firm, but would it be very expensive, or if we hired a van, would it be insured?
Sinead replies: There are various options available.
The cheapest is to borrow a van from a friend and do it yourself. You'll need to change your car insurance to cover the change of vehicle for which there will be an alteration fee and make sure you're licenced to drive it.
You'll have no cover on the contents though; the car insurance will just protect you in the event of an accident. You'll need to spend more money on boxes, bubble wrap and other packaging materials to make sure your furniture doesn't get damaged.
You can also rent a van for the day from any car hire company.
A Hiace-size van will cost around €30 to €50 for the day and you'll need to make sure your licence allows you drive it.
The third option is to hire a van with a driver.
This is normally charged by the hour (around €50 to €60 seems average) but again, you'll need to box and pack up everything for them.
The full-service option is for a professional moving company to come in, pack up everything, transport and unpack your furniture room by room, including taking apart and rebuilding beds.
The cost for this would be anything from €550 to €1,000 and it really depends on the size of the house.
The Ryan review
One of the reasons foreign banks don't want to do business in the Irish mortgage market is the slow pace of repossession when owners default on their home loan payments. It can take years, and thousands of euro, to get through the court system, with no guarantee the property will be recovered.
Even our own banks favour the securitised debt model, flogging off dozens of basket-case loans in a bundle to vulture funds who are paying a bargain price - low enough so that they have time to wait out the process.
They also don't care about the optics in the same way as our bailed-out bankers do.
So, what is the Permanent TSB at? It has announced an extremely generous offer to landlords of buy-to-lets in dogged arrears who are willing to surrender their investment property (which could trigger a turfing out of the tenants), and the bank will write off all the residual debt.
For the beleaguered bank, it saves the cost and time of a court case, but in eating the outstanding loan it must raise the eyebrows of residential borrowers, people tempted by low tracker rates who bought a family home high and now can't afford the repayments, and for whom no such deal is on offer, not even through insolvency, in most cases.
Why are the buy-to-lets getting the breaks? After all, they took a gamble, unlike the owner-occupier.