Home economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions

Q My friend and I are in an argument with our landlord. He is saying we are responsible for insurance, but surely it’s his responsibility given that it is his apartment. Separately, he has said he needs to start charging us for refuse collection: this had been done in the past with the management company but they have switched to a different refuse collector and increased the fees for recycling. The landlord is passing this on to us — this too seems unfair. A I continue to be surprised with how some landlords find ever more creative ways of upping rent, by calling it something else. That said, while there are quite clear rules over lots of tenancy matters, it is often the case that negotiation is the best tool. According to the Residential Tenancies Board, it is the landlord’s obligation to pay certain costs including the RTB fee, local property tax and property insurance costs. However, they only have to insure the building (and I’m sure you’ll find this is done via a group policy from the management company about which he has little or no control as it’s generally built into the service fee). What he does not have to pay for, is your stuff to be insured. This is your responsibility. You can buy contents insurance reasonably cheaply, and depending on what items you have, may only need to pay specific premiums on specified items above a certain limit (there’s typically a maximum ‘per item’ limit on policies which could be as low as €750). Bicycles, scooters, laptops, jewellery etc should all be identified, photographed, valued and insured. Tenants are also responsible for obvious things like utilities. In terms of the refuse collection, this largely depends on precedent. If it’s in your rental agreement (lease) that this is included then he cannot seek to change that now. If it’s a brand new charge from the management company, then he may seek to pass it on, as he cannot be responsible for what you discharge as waste. I’d read the lease carefully, have the landlord set out his thinking in writing and contact the RTB which has a mediation service for around €15 if you can’t come to an agreement.

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The Ryan Review

What the Lord giveth the Lord hath taken away (Job 1:21). Well, you’d need the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon to be Finance Minister these days and Paschal Donohoe, our own God of Mammon has a piece of work on his hands trying to balance the books at the best of times, never mind in the first post-Covid year.
Incentivising, but not too much, the sensibilities of a populace which wants to return to the office (sometimes) and work from home (other times) to suit themselves, was never going to be easy. Employers will be looking for guidance and employees, who have grown comfy in their cobbled-together home offices, are reluctant to rejoin the rat race.
WFH benefits are paltry, even with more enhanced tax breaks.
They’ll be eaten up by increased electricity and gas bills in any event, and it won’t be long before your company’s air conditioned office and warm canteen with its free coffee looks mightily tempting, even if the commute is looking longer and more expensive than ever.
Tax breaks for home utilities are an easy win. Hardly anybody applies for them, but they look good.

Sinead presents The Home Show on Newstalk every Saturday morning at 9am
 

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