Home Economics: Answering your property questions
My new neighbours brought with them a dog who won't stop burrowing under the fence separating our properties.
It's become a real nuisance and my shrubbery is being dug up every time. My daughter's rabbit was found dead, and although it wasn't mauled, we're convinced the dog terrified it.
I have asked them to keep it under control but they say that it's just doing what dogs do. I don't want to fall out, but it's affecting my family and our enjoyment of the garden.
Oh dear. This would annoy me too, not to mention your daughter's upset. I asked Susan Cosgrove of Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors for advice:
"The owner of a dog may become liable under the general principles of tort law for the actions of the dog in a case of nuisance or trespass. Although it will be hard to prove the death of the rabbit in these circumstances, your neighbour is liable for damages caused by his dog to your property.
One would hope that on your formal request to close up this opening under the fence by whatever means necessary in their garden, that they will act upon this. However, you may also wish to confirm that should this happen again you will be seeking compensation for the damage carried out to your property.
If unfortunately they fail to do so and you do have to take this down the legal route, the claim can be dealt with through the small claims court if the damage to the property is under €2,000".
I have a mortgage with Start Mortgages which I have always tried to pay but sometimes fell behind. I heard now they are up for sale and that my loan might end up with a 'vulture fund'. What are these and should I be worried Also, will they be hassling me for payments?
Start Mortgages was a subprime lender, ultimately owned by South African bank Investec which is looking at selling off some of its loan book.
It charged higher-than-normal interest rates as many clients had impaired credit histories. Like many subprimes it bit off more than it could chew but it's important to stress that there is no sale imminent, to a 'vulture' fund or anybody else. It is merely being explored as a number of lenders have done.
You should continue to pay your mortgage.
If it, and others, are eventually sold, this situation will not change. However, should you default (not pay), then any bank will seek to recover its money.
Irish-registered banks are bound to abide by the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) which regulates the level of contact (hassle) they can give you over this.
Foreign owners do not, although many say they will.
In addition, because they typically pay less for the loan book, they may be more likely to do debt deals with erring borrowers, as was the case when Pepper took over GE Money – another subprime lender.
Either way, treat your mortgage as you do now.
You'll be notified well in advance if there is any change.