Friday 18 October 2019

Property tax laws stall sales, says Law Society

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Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The Government has been urged to change property tax laws that are delaying the sale of houses.

The Law Society said house sales are being significantly delayed and time is being spent by solicitors seeking to establish if there are statutory charges on properties over unpaid bills.

In a series of recommendations focused on the housing sector, the society said unpaid property tax bills should be linked to individuals rather than their properties.

In the policy document, the legal representative body said property tax legislation will become "burdensome" over time and solicitors will charge higher fees for establishing if there are charges on houses before sales.

"Local property tax should be charged against an individual and dealt with through self-assessment and through existing Revenue collection and enforcement options," it said.

The society also called for new laws which would ensure house buyers do not get hit with bills attached to houses from builders who refused to pay back help-to-buy scheme grants when previous sales fell through.

When a house sale is cancelled and a builder does not return a first-time buyers' grant, the Revenue Commissioner has a clawback option which sees a statutory charge attached to the property.

However, a subsequent house buyer has no protection from this and it can lead to difficulties when seeking a mortgage from a bank.

"It adversely impacts on the title to the property and on a buyer getting a clear title or a lender getting a first legal charge (mortgage) on the property," it said.

Irish Independent

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