Home Economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions
Q I have an apartment rented out through a reputable (or so I thought) letting agent. The tenant left without paying the last two months' rent but I got the notification from the agent very late. When I returned to the property (I live 200km away), I found it in terrible condition. It will need a full overhaul which the deposit won't cover. What are my rights? The agent is saying the firm isn't responsible and to take it to the RTB. The reason I used an agency was because I expected it to vet all tenants and take care of the property.
A Where you are retaining a deposit you must keep proof of arrears, photos of the property at beginning and end of lease, and invoices for any work completed beyond normal wear and tear, says the RTB.
"Where a landlord has incurred costs that are above the deposit amount they can take a case to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) for mediation or adjudication. Mediation is a free service offered by the RTB that allows two or more disputing parties to resolve their conflict in a mutually agreeable way confidentially".
The fee for adjudication is €15 for an online application and €25 for a paper application. This involves a hearing before an independent adjudicator, where both the landlord and tenant present their evidence and the adjudicator makes a binding decision.
"The RTB deals with complaints between landlords and tenants and does not have jurisdiction to handle complaints against letting agents but the Property Services Regulatory Authority (www.psr.ie) can investigate complaints of improper conduct made against licensed Property Services Providers (PSPs) and initiate investigations for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the law".
Q We rented out our home 10 years ago and moved to another house. We have two mortgages, but the rental is on a tracker and pays for itself with the same tenant since the beginning. We are now thinking of selling it. We know there is Capital Gains Tax due but is there any way to minimise it. Can it be offset if we pay the proceeds off our own mortgage and could we move the tracker to our current house? We may build or sell both and move elsewhere.
A You have a lot of different questions here, so I'll try and simplify your concerns.
If you sell the rental property you are correct - you will incur a Capital Gains Tax bill. This is normally based on the difference between the purchase and selling price, with some allowances for letting costs, mortgage interest (minimal on a tracker) and other deductions, but the tax itself is 33pc.
It is possible to offset gains against losses incurred in any one year, however, Revenue says: "allowable losses are set against the chargeable gains of the same year and if the losses exceed the gains, the excess may be carried forward against gains of later years".
However, the tax due is not minimised by you using the gain to pay off a different loan on another property. It is highly unlikely that you could 'move' the tracker from one property to another - trackers simply aren't sold any more.
You could probably benefit from a sit-down with an accountant or other financial adviser to lay out all your options clearly. This may help you make up your mind from a financial perspective at least.
The Ryan Review
The tracker scandal seems to have gone on as long as the recession, at this stage, and yet there seems no end to it.
Banks have deployed (and employed) vast resources to do what they have been told to do by the Central Bank who, admittedly, move the goalposts around every so often.
Still it's not enough. Carefully worded press statements say (the banks) are only desperate to sort it all out and nothing will stand in their way to see that their customers get the best possible experience.
The latest was the 'time limit' rule which the Financial Services Ombudsman said was precluding his office from dealing with legitimate appeals from 1,100 customers caught up in the mess. He didn't name the guilty lenders, but both Bank of Ireland and KBC were out of the blocks to reassure they won't be standing in his way. AIB says it's not putting up barriers either and PTSB, already fined €21m in May, says it's good too as is Ulster Bank. EBS says its priority is to "put things right for our customers who have been impacted". So, who does that leave then?
With the process dragging along well over the six-year limit in some cases, through no fault of the customers affected, FSO Ger Deering said some banks were continuing to "rigorously challenge" his right to do his job.
Hopefully the banks will join the dots and open their books and put the sorry mess to one side, at which time they can then let go the hundreds of extra contractors they're employing expensively to (not) do that.
Sinead presents 'The Home Show' on Newstalk 106FM every Saturday from 9am.