Home economics: answering your property questions
Advice from our property expert on options for a couple who are about to get married and already own properties and on how to resolve issues with your neighbours.
Question: I'm getting married in the summer and moving into my fiance's house. I'm wondering what to do with my one bed apartment in Glasnevin, D9? Should we let it or sell it? We both have a mortgage but neither is in negative equity.
Sinead replies: You are right to consider all options. Don't hang on to the apartment for the sake of it.
Selling up and using whatever equity is in it to pay down the other mortgage may be prudent. The costs of being a landlord are high, notwithstanding the strength of the rental market currently.
You need to register with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (€90), get a BER cert (€150), pay property tax, water charges, insurance, repairs, maintenance and letting fees if you're using an agent (around one month's rent), not to mention paying income tax on rent received.
Your lender may also charge a higher mortgage interest rate on it as an investment property than you currently enjoy.
Expenses are no longer fully allowable against tax, so do your sums. If you find you need to 'prop up' the mortgage payments after all that, then it may be too risky. A property should stand alone as an investment.
If you decide to go ahead, check rental websites and local agents for an appropriate rent (you need to be able to back this up if challenged by the PRTB), and get it listed. An agent can vet tenants but with strengthened rights in place you will be locked into the rent for a minimum of two years.
Question: Since moving into our house last summer we've had nothing but problems with our neighbour. We bought from an elderly lady and it is in an 'older' area. First they wanted us to cut a hedge blocking their light; we were happy to do so. Then they complained about our cat fouling their garden, the noise our son makes playing guitar and during a recent (admittedly loud) dinner party, they started banging on the shared wall.
We're not anti-social or troublesome, but they seem to live a solitary life with no visitors. I can't keep apologising for normal family living.
Sinead replies: One person's 'normal' is someone else's 'nuisance neighbour'. I'm not saying that you are, but there are things clearly getting on your neighbour's wick. You've made some moves toward appeasing them, but I think you now have to set some ground rules.
All the things you describe don't seem to be out of the ordinary, so it would be interesting to get your neighbour's perspective on what they see as irritating.
Perhaps asking them in for a cup of tea and getting to know them better might be an idea. We're slower to object to people we like and it could be they're simply not used to noise from the attached property and need to get over it.
Showing them you are friendly, approachable and simply live a different life to the previous owner can help. You might learn, for example, that they work odd hours, or from home, and can come to an arrangement on music etc. Insulation can also help and there are grants available for this (www.seai.ie), but it's a bit extreme.
If they take it further, they will need to prove a nuisance under S.108 of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 which states "noise" becomes "nuisance" when it becomes "so loud, so repeated, so continuous of such duration or pitch or occurring at such times as to give reasonable cause for annoyance". Let's hope it doesn't come to that.
The Ryan review
All retail banks target young customers. Given the general state of financial services awareness apathy of the Irish, they know if they can get your Holy Communion money, they probably have you for life.
Banking for Babies is promoted by fuzzy cartoon characters, free gifts and the promise that when you're big enough, they'll be standing by to give you a 'real' account, just like mammy and daddy.
Some even go into schools to pummel home the message. All of this, if done carefully with parental permission, is okay. It's good to save, and being financially aware can't start too soon, even with pocket money.
However, the line changes when it comes to borrowing. As soon as someone becomes old enough for credit, it's foisted upon them, usually in the form of student loans and credit cards. So far, so mercenary. After all, they've carried the liability of your deposit for years.
But where is the borrowing line crossed and when do borrowers count as grown-ups? Well, one fascinating statistic from the otherwise flaccid banking inquiry came from an internal Bank of Ireland report. A not inconsiderable 15.7pc of its first loan book of 100pc mortgages were sold to 18 to 25-year-olds and 54.3pc sold to under 30s, the majority for 35 years.
Perhaps when they can afford to have children of their own, they'll send them instead to the post office with their piggy bank.