Sunday 22 September 2019

Home economics: Sinead Ryan answers your property questions

A café is often viewed as being open for consideration under residential zonings but permitted in principle under commercial zonings. Stock Image
A café is often viewed as being open for consideration under residential zonings but permitted in principle under commercial zonings. Stock Image
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

I live in a 1930s terraced house on a busy road with retail units interspersed with houses. I’ve harboured a dream to open a café in the downstairs of my property (which is residential now), and living upstairs — there are two large rooms which would convert and I live alone. I am due a sizable redundancy payment and this is what I’d like to put it towards. What would be involved in terms of planning and permission for this?

A. The short answer is plenty! I asked planning consultant Anthony Marsden for the details.

“Planning permission (a ‘change of use’ application) is required to subdivide an existing house into a café and flat. Permission is also required for any signage and other changes to the frontage of the property as well as any commercial extractor flues if cooking is to be carried out on the premises. 

It is worth noting that in planning terms a café is distinct from a shop due to its sale of hot food for consumption off the premises.

Prior to getting any professional advice (solicitor/accountant/architect etc), you should review whether the change of use is supported under the zoning and policies of the local Development Plan at your local council.

A café is often viewed as being open for consideration under residential zonings but permitted in principle under commercial zonings. It is always good to consult with neighbours in order to reduce the potential for objections but also to get advice on what they have done to similar premises.

Get the advice of a planning consultant/architect to advise on issues the council will need to consider, such as the impact on the area, parking, waste disposal etc. 

Other issues to be addressed that are separate to the planning process include a need to get a Disability Access Certificate and Fire Access Certificate, and if you propose to place tables and chairs on the pavement outside the café then you will require a licence for this from the council.”

Best of luck with the new career.

Q. My mother left me her house in her will while bequeathing other assets to my siblings. When she died last summer, she knew my marriage was in trouble and I think wanted me to have somewhere to call my own if it failed. I have told my husband I want to separate and the house we share (we have no children) is mortgaged to the hilt.  My concern is if I move into my mother’s (now my) house, will it become part of the divorce settlement? It would kill me to sell it as I grew up there and it is my haven. It was never his house, nor did he ever live here.

A. Separation and divorce settlements are notoriously tricky, and never set in stone. If it’s at all possible to come to a mediated agreement, it is invariably better to so do.

Susan Cosgrove of Cosgrove Gaynard solicitors says, assuming a grant of probate has been issued and there are no further will considerations and all is in order with your siblings, the position regarding the separation are thus:

“All assets are taken into account when it comes to separating/ divorcing including this inheritance.  Family law splits do not occur on a 50:50 basis, contrary to common belief, and the split that a court awards can vary drastically from that position.

“Indeed you can both come to an amicable agreement on the split of assets, for instance you can agree to let him keep the existing house (together with any other assets if there are some of value to increase the value such as contents, savings etc) and you keep your mother’s house.  

If an agreement cannot be reached though, it is most likely that you will have to contribute some value to him.

“You may have to consider raising finance to keep the second house instead of selling.  

There are a lot of variables that can change the split ultimately agreed or awarded by the court and so it is worth seeking legal advice in this case sooner rather than later”.


The Ryan Review

Great news that Permanent TSB is offering to write off home-loan debts of borrowers in chronic arrears on basket-case mortgages. More than 1,000 properties are involved, and the bank will surely be taking the hit on at least some of them. It’s about time, after all; it has one of the worst loan books around, with 28pc of the book registered as bad debts.

Sadly, the bank is confining the largesse to investors, rather than owner occupiers. Mary and Jim and their kids, without jobs and on social welfare, scraping to make ends meet and behind on their payments won’t get lucky this time, but Pat around the corner who bought his neighbour’s house as his ‘pension plan’ when times were good, will be delighted to be relieved of his debt (and the house), and return to life as it was before the credit madness took over his life.  Pat’s tenants can stay put, as an added bonus.

The mass write-off is dependent on the sale price and outstanding debt, and therefore qualified, but the over-subscription for the offer shows many landlords are at the giving-up stage. From the bank’s viewpoint, dragging these cases through the courts in the desperately slow and expensive repossession process, is succumbing to the least worst option. Expect more to follow suit, but don't think Mary and Jim are going to be a bit happy about it.

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