Landlords and Irish Water ~ Tenants’ Details

Property owners who have tenants have been quite concerned about their potential exposure to Irish Water for arears of water charges, effectively a utility bill incurred by their tenants.   Some clarity has been brought to this area through amendments to the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 arising from the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015. Of particular significance is Section 47 of the 2015 Act which inserts a new Section 23A into the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013. This section was commenced by the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 2015 which was promulgated by the Minister for the Environment on 30th September, 2015 appointing 1st October 2015 as the date upon which the provision enters into legal force and effect.   The significance of this is that the new Section 23A(4) provides that where a non-occupying property owner (a landlord) has not provided the tenants’ details to Irish Water within twenty days of the commencement of Section 23A or twenty days of the commencement of the tenancy if later, then the property owner shall be responsible for the charges levied by Irish Water until the property owner complies with their obligation.   Consequently and somewhat urgently given how little fanfare accompanied the bringing into force of this provision, in respect of pre-existing tenancies, property owners have twenty days from 1st October, 2015 to provide tenants’ details to Irish Water. If a property owner is any doubt as to whether or not their tenants are registered then they should write to Irish Water and advise them of the tenants’ details. Irish Water’s address according to its website is P.O. Box 860, South City Delivery Office, Cork City.   The new provision requires Irish Water to be notified as to:   “(i)       the date of commencement of any agreement for the occupation of the dwelling, and   (ii)        the name of each person with whom the owner has such an agreement for the occupation of the dwelling”.   In respect of new tenancies arising after 1st October, 2015, Irish Water must be notified within twenty days of the change of occupier of the dwelling concerned.   Section 23A(5)(a) also provides that unless the letting/tenancy agreement provides to the contrary every agreement for the occupation of a dwelling entered into after 1st October, 2015 shall be “deemed to include a provision that the occupier shall pay to Irish Water any charge.. in respect of the dwelling for the period from the date on which the agreement commences until the date on which the occupier vacates the dwelling.”   While this provisions brings welcome clarity as to which party, the landlord or the tenant, is responsible for paying the water charges, it does not affect the landlords obligation to notify Irish Water of the tenants’ details.   This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by Hammond Good, Solicitors for any action taken in reliance on the information contained therein. Any and all information is subject to change. For further information on the subject, please contact the author, Richard Hammond, at...

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Buying a home

Buying a home

Buying a house is one of the most important purchases you will make during your lifetime. Therefore it is important that you are properly advised and kept fully informed at each stage of the process. Going “Sale Agreed” Once you have found the home of your dreams and negotiated the right price for you the next stage is to pay the booking deposit in order to secure the property from being sold to someone else while the legal work is underway. This is paid directly to the Auctioneer and is anything up to 5% of the purchase price. This deposit is fully refundable up to the point that you sign the contracts. On paying the booking deposit the Auctioneer will send out a letter called an “Advice Note” to both the vendor’s and purchaser’s solicitors. The Advice Note sets out the main details of the transaction and includes the vendor’s and purchaser’s full name, the address of the property which is the subject of the transaction, the sale price which has been agreed and the vendor’s and purchaser’s solicitors contact details. If contents are included in the sale the Advice Note should set out the list of contents to be included in the sale and their value. The property at this point is deemed to be “Sale Agreed”. Structural Survey for Second-hand Property A structural survey is not normally necessary for newly built properties as they usually come with a Home Bond warranty or Premier Guarantee. If however you are purchasing a second hand property it is strongly advisable that you arrange for a qualified engineer or architect to conduct a survey of the property to ensure that the property is structurally sound and also to confirm that the boundaries of the property correspond with the map of the property. The person undertaking the survey should also check whether there have been any extensions or alterations carried out to the property. This is a matter which can often cause grave difficulty in a transaction. If any structural change has been carried out to the property no matter how minor it will at the very least require an Architect’s certificate stating that it is exempt from planning permission and is in compliance with building regulations. This certificate should be retained with the title deeds for all future transactions. Obtaining Finance If you are obtaining a mortgage it is important that as soon as you have paid a booking deposit, you immediately secure finance for the transaction by contacting a mortgage broker or your bank. There are a number of brokers working in the area who are in a position to negotiate with a number of banks on your behalf. Alternatively if you have a good relationship with your bank they may be in a position to offer you loan approval. This stage of the process can be very time consuming and should be commenced as soon as possible. Once your loan approval is secured give the mortgage broker or bank your solicitor’s contact details. The bank will then arrange to issue the loan pack to them. This loan pack will include all the documents you need to sign to obtain a mortgage on the property you are purchasing. The bank will also forward a copy of the loan offer to...

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Inspection of Domestic Wastewater Treatment Systems

The Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 introduced a new registration and inspection regime for domestic waste water treatment systems which include septic tanks. The purpose of the legislation is to impose an obligation on owners of such treatment systems to ensure their systems are operating and maintained so as to make certain that they do not pollute the environment. The Act imposes an obligation on each owner of a treatment system to register their system and the Act allows inspections of the treatment systems to be carried out by authorised inspectors. This Act imposes on the “owner” of a premises connected to a domestic waste water treatment system an obligation to have details of their waste water treatment system entered in a register which is maintained by the water services department of each local authority. To register the owner of the premises must complete a form and pay the relevant registration charge. The water services authority will then enter the details in the register of domestic waste water treatment systems and will issue a Certificate of Registration to the owner. The Certificate of Registration should be kept in a safe place (with the title deeds if possible) as it may be required when the property is being sold. This certificate will be valid for five years, after which time the treatment system must be re-registered and a new certificate obtained. The registration charge is currently set at €50, but the Act provides that it may be reviewed from time to time by the Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government. If registration is completed prior to 28th September, 2012 the registration fee will be €5. All water treatment systems must be registered by 1st February 2013. The Act provides for inspections to be carried out on treatment systems and inspections are due to commence in 2013. Under the Act the owner of the premises is to be provided with 10 days notice of an inspection. If access to the treatment system is not granted to the inspector this may be deemed an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding €5,000. The Act does not impose an inspection charge on the owner of the premises The inspections will initially concentrate on areas where treatment systems are posing a higher risk of polluting the environment.. If an inspector finds that your system is working properly and being maintained correctly no action will need to be taken by you. If however an inspection of the treatment system deems it to be malfunctioning, an advisory note will issue from the local authority requiring you to take steps to improve your system. Registration of a treatment system can be made online at www.protectourwater.ie or by printing the form on the website, completing it and then submitting it to the Protect Our Water, P.O. Box 12204, Dublin 7. Forms are also available from the local authorities and libraries.  The following details will need to be completed on the form; the names and addresses of the owner(s) of the property and the address of the treatment system This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of...

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