Home Economics: Sinead Ryan answers your property questions
Q. I want to build a 5ft-high brick wall to separate my front garden from next door. There is currently an ugly rattan fence over a low (knee-height) brick wall erected by the previous owner - it looks terrible and is in poor condition. I've offered to pay for the entire structure, but my neighbour is objecting as she has grown a hedge against it on her side and wants to retain it. Can I go ahead or what permission do I need? I really don't want to have to build a second wall along the existing one as this would be silly.
A. Neighbourhood disputes are always tricky and it's best in every case to try and work out a solution rather than seek legal redress, so I'd start by having another chat with the lady. Point out the added security a wall brings, see if a gardener may be able to disentangle the hedge and retain it, for instance, and reiterate your offer to pay for it in full.
If you need to go down the legal route, Cara Walsh of Mullany Walsh Maxwells Solicitors says: "Under the Land and Conveyancing Act 2009, the wall and fence you describe is probably a 'party structure' and, as such, the rights and obligations of you and your neighbour are clearly set out in law.
"You are entitled to carry out reasonable work to the shared boundary wall, provided you do not cause substantial damage or inconvenience to your neighbour.
"If you replace the wall, you must ensure you do not disturb or damage the hedge. Any damage caused by the work to your neighbour's property, including her hedge, will mean you have to make it good again at your own expense, pay the neighbour's reasonable costs of getting professional advice on the work and possibly even pay compensation to her.
"There is a mechanism to apply to the District Court for a works order if you and your neighbour cannot agree, but the best way to proceed is to discuss your plans in advance with your neighbour and be very careful not to cause any damage when the work is being carried out.
"Finally, it is important to bear in mind that development to the front of your house will usually need planning approval, so consult an architect as a first step."
Q. I returned home from holiday to find water dripping from my ceiling. In my panic, I called my brother-in-law and his friend, a plumber, to fix it and they found a corroded pipe leading away from the immersion tank, which had caused the problem. I have all the receipts, but my insurance company is refusing to pay up.
A. Most house insurance policies require you to give advance notice of claims. As many of them use a panel of experts for repairs, the notification generally puts in train works that they are sure will be carried out properly, to perhaps an agreed fee between the trades person and the insurer.
Getting in your own contractor, even though this was done in the panic of the moment, and with the right intention (to stop further damage occurring), it may be deemed a breach of contract.
Brian McNelis of the Irish Brokers Association says: "Under the terms and conditions of any insurance policy, there is an obligation to notify the insurer or your broker once damage has been caused by an insured peril.
"There are differing time limitations within which the claim must be reported and they are specifically detailed in your policy. I'm surprised the insurer has declined the claim, as you were certainly mitigating further damage by his actions, so unless notified outside the notification period, I feel consideration should be given to this claim.
"Receipts and damaged items such as carpets should always be retained for inspection. My view would be that, in this particular claim, the pipes would not be covered, but the damage caused by the escaping water should be."
If they won't cough up, contact the regulator; lo-call 1890 88 20 90; financialombudsman.ie.
The Ryan review
A bit of a turn up for the books with stuffy old Bank of Ireland appointing a new CEO to take over from Richie Boucher, ticking not one, but three boxes: she's a 'she', she's young and she's not an 'insider'.
Instead, Francesca McDonagh (42) comes to our shores after 20 years at HSBC in the UK, where she was most recently Head of Retail Banking.
She joins the pillar bank, which has repaid its debt to Ireland Inc, on October 2 and, by all accounts, it was given the nod to breach the CEO pay cap so she can enjoy a similar salary to the outgoing chief, around €950,000.
They say talent costs, but it must have AIB's Bernard Byrne and PTSB's Jeremy Masding gritting their teeth all the same as they toil away on their measly half a million.
Another difference is that Ms McDonagh has shown herself not to be a fan of inflated variable mortgage rates, which will be a change of tactic over at Bank of Ireland. They have some of the highest rates on the market, compensating them with generous cash-back offers and slightly more attractive lock-in fixed rates.
Will the new chief follow suit or switch gear?
If she does the latter, BOI will be a serious threat to its competitors. They now have the financial welly, the State noose loosened, and a dynamic new boss wishing to make her mark. Watch this space.