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Is council liable for some of my property tax?

I bought an apartment under the affordable homes scheme at a 25pc discount. The property tax has me stumped.

Is the council responsible for some of it?

Under the scheme rules, I'm not allowed rent it out; it's a north facing unit and the lift has been out of order for the past year, so it can't have the same market value as my neighbours'.

Firstly, in terms of the property tax, Barry Flanagan of www.taxback.com says that Revenue defines the 'liable person' as, "Owners of Irish residential property . . . (and) Local authorities or social housing organisations that own and provide social housing".

Those who bought under the affordable homes scheme are the beneficial owner regardless of the fact that the mortgage may well be with the local authority.

"The amount due is based on the market value of the property on 1 May 2013, so a heavily discounted acquisition cost will not be relevant", he adds.

The current value should take into account the aspect and size of the property – if you believe this gives a lesser value than your neighbours', this is perfectly fine.

I'm not sure the lift being out of order makes a difference, but you should absolutely write to the management company about this.

In terms of the strictures of the scheme you are not allowed to rent out your apartment, however you can still avail of the rent-a-room scheme if you have more than one bedroom and earn up to €10,000 tax free annually in rental income which may alleviate some of the mortgage costs.

My elderly father is coming to live with us and we need to convert a room downstairs for him as he is wheelchair bound. In addition, the doors will need to be widened and a ramp built. Are there grants available?

The Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability helps pay for necessary works to make a house more suitable for a person with a disability to live in.

The person's disability must be lasting and involve physical, sensory, mental health or learning difficulties.

The types of works covered include the fitting of access ramps, downstairs toilet, stair-lifts, level-access showers, changes to allow wheelchair access and extensions.

Any others are at the discretion of the local authority.

They can also demand a Right of Residence letter from a solicitor confirming that you have agreed to have the works done on behalf of your father.

The grant is means tested taking into account the property owner's (and their spouse's) annual gross income for the previous tax year.

A maximum grant of €30,000 to cover 95pc of the works is available where total income is less than €30,000 pa, tapering to 30pc for applicants with income levels between €54,001 and €65,000pa.

You must not get any works started before getting permission or it may invalidate the grant.

Speak with your local authority immediately as the application may be complex.

Irish Independent