Sunday 19 November 2017

Home Economics: Answering your property questions

Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

I recently had triple glazed windows installed at great cost as my wife and I are getting on in years and thought it would help with our heating bills. Unfortunately, two of the windows have built up condensation in them and one has a distinct rattle. I called the company but they say this is a normal 'settling in' process. It's been three months now and I cannot seem to get the issue resolved. Would my next step be a solicitor although I don't relish the cost of legal action?

It's always disappointing when companies with whom you spend a great deal of money refuse to deal with customer complaints. It certainly doesn't sound 'normal' to me and I wouldn't hesitate to take the next step. My advice is to write to the company, enclosing a copy of the quote and receipt. Outline what happened and what was said when you called to complain. Ask for the windows to be repaired or replaced and give them a week to reply.

If they don't respond, contact the National Consumer Agency (1800 432 432) who will advise you of your rights. Then, get in a third party evaluator (e.g. another glazing company or surveyor) to assess the windows and write a report (you may have to pay for this) and send it on to the company.

After that, the Small Claims Court deals with claims up to €2,000 and costs €25 (courts.ie); you don't need a solicitor and I have found threat of it is often enough to put the skids under any recalcitrant company. Good luck.

I am very interested in signing up to AirBnB. I live alone in a three bedroom house and don't want a full-time tenant but guests would be great. My question is this: if I make some money what is the tax position? Am I a 'landlord' and does the income need to be declared?

Putting spare bedrooms to use is a good idea and AirBnB provides a super opportunity to do that especially for those who only want occasional visitors. Normally, extra income you earn from any source is taxable for Income tax, PRSI and USC.

However, as Louise Carey of taxconsultant.ie points out there is an exemption in this case.

"Revenue's Rent-a-Room relief scheme can be used where you rent out a room in your principal private residence (as opposed to a second home which would indeed make you a landlord). The income can include sums receivable in respect of bed, meals, laundry etc. The relief applies to the gross income from letting the rooms in the home, before any deductions for expenses, up to €10,000 p.a. Although exempt, it must be declared in your tax return via a Form 12.

"You cannot claim the relief if you are related or connected to the person that you are renting to, such as an employee, child or civil partner.

"I'd also add that it's a good idea to let your insurance company know you'll be accepting guests. There may be an additional premium to pay, although AirBnB has its own insurance covering damage etc, which you may avail of for free."

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