Home Economics: Sinead Ryan answers your property questions
My husband died last year, my last child has moved away and I wish to sell our home now as it's far too big just for me. The problem is I can't find the original deeds. We paid off the mortgage in 2002 and I am certain we left them in the bank, but they can't find them. What can I do and will this be a problem?
A. Unfortunately, in most cases, you cannot sell your house without your deeds, as these prove your ownership as well as showing that your house has proper planning permission.
Solicitor Cara Walsh of Mullany Walsh Maxwells says there is a way of replacing the deeds, but depending on the type of property, it can be slow and expensive. Your solicitor will be able to carry out searches and advise you how much time and expense is involved in your case.
She adds: "You should seek a full explanation from your bank. Banks are generally not keen to store deeds for customers where there is no mortgage. They ought to have a document to show that they gave you the deeds when the mortgage was paid off in 2002. If they don't have that, it is possible they have misplaced them and they may pay some or all of the cost of replacing them.
"If the bank's records show that you were given the deeds, then don't give up hope. Become a detective. Ask your children to help you search the house, check with all local bank branches, and contact any solicitors you or your husband might have asked in 2002 to take the deeds for safe-keeping.
"Is it possible they have been put into specialist vaults many people use? There aren't that many companies doing this, so a few phone calls will rule them out. Would they have been entrusted to a family member or consigned to the attic perhaps? In most cases, deeds show up with a focused search and hopefully yours will too."
Q. I live in the middle of a terrace of town houses. Insulation has always been an issue, but recently, my neighbour got in a new shower with a very loud pump. Every time it's turned on, it's as if it's in my room. He lives with his two sons, both teenagers, so it seems like it's on all the time. Is there anything I can do? It's driving me mad.
A. Unfortunately, no specific regulations apply for noise abatement in new houses and while insulation must be provided between units for fire purposes, this is rarely sufficient for acoustic dampening. Many residents of boom-time houses, thrown up at break-neck speed over a decade ago, are now finding that they feel like they are living in the same house as their neighbours.
Firstly, from a legal perspective, I don't think there's any remedy. Shower noises wouldn't be classed as abnormal or overly intrusive and certainly it doesn't seem like your neighbour is acting inappropriately or deliberately seeking to annoy you.
Therefore, any solution lies technically. John Murnaghan of Elark Developments says the issue arises as noise is a vibration. "It's not as straightforward as external insulation for heat, for example. Foam [sprayed into the wall cavity] can 'muscle' the sound, but vibrations travel through solids, so the answer is to provide a gap. This can only be done at the expense of square footage.
"You can put up a rubber matting on your wall, and stick (not nail) an insulated board to it. In total, it's around 60mm thick, which may be too much space for you to lose."
Only you can decide whether you want to go down this route - it would mean total redecoration as much as anything else. Get some quotes and, in the meantime, have a word with the neighbour and at least make sure the showers aren't happening when you're sleeping.
The Ryan Review
Both candidates in the Fine Gael election race, whose parliamentary party is voting on today, have strong views on housing.
As the incumbent minister, Simon Coveney has failed to stop homelessness (which is as high as it's ever been), increase the supply of housing to any meaningful level or made in-roads into vacant land sites dotted around the country and, crucially, in Dublin, with the State owning much of it.
Still, he has been committed and hard working, and events have betrayed his efforts.
Leo Varadkar took a side swipe at his own party by suggesting he would scrap the first-time buyer grant if it is seen to 'inflate house prices'. Seen? That it has is beyond doubt, so that policy has to be in the box straight away.
It should never have been brought in; a behind-the-scenes spat between Michael Noonan and the Central Bank saw two measures in the grant itself (Noonan) and the scrapping of deposit caps (CBI) resulting in a couple of thousand new buyers being supported by the rest of the taxpayers in the country twice over.
Latest information shows it may all have been for nowt. FTBs borrowed just 79pc of the value of their house, with an average of 2.9 times income in the second half of 2016. They were doing fine all on their own, it appears.
Now, with the rush to get mortgage approvals with lower interest rates, banks handing back cash and hardly any upfront deposit needed, all that's missing are… well, the houses.
Good luck to the new Taoiseach's housing appointee who gets the poisoned chalice.