Your queries answered
Q We are moving abroad for work reasons and have decided to rent out the family home for at least the next three to five years. We have never done this before. What should we do to the house to make it attractive and suitable for tenants and should we appoint an agent?
A You have not rented out your property before and so there are a number of things to consider. Firstly, in relation to the house itself, it will be important to ensure it is fully equipped for tenants. You should consider leaving your furniture – beds, sofas, tables, kitchen equipment (or replacing them if necessary) as the majority of tenants will be looking for a fully furnished property.
You will also need to include items such as a vacuum cleaner, microwave and possibly a TV (although that is up to you). It is important you remove all personal items (photos etc) and put them into storage off-site. You will want to make the property attractive for prospective tenants and so you should ensure it is in the best possible condition. You may also need to paint the house, particularly if you are likely to be away for the next 3-5 years, depending on its current condition.
Whether you want to appoint an agent is a personal decision. There are essentially two main services the agent can provide.
The first is a property letting service whereby the agent will advise you on the likely market rent you can expect to achieve. He/she will then advertise and market your property on agreed online and print media, arrange all viewings and obtain and check references of interested tenants. The agent will also prepare the lease, inventory and Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) paperwork and arrange move-in date with the tenants.
At that point the agent will take all of the utility readings and transfer the utility bill into the tenant’s name and provide you with all of the finalised paperwork.
In terms of the management, the agent will usually provide the letting services as described and in addition will manage the property on your behalf over the course of the tenancy.
He/she will be the main point of contact for the tenants (this usually includes an emergency call answering service) should any problems arise (eg lease issues, maintenance and repairs etc).
If agreed, the agent can also carry out regular inspections of the property and will ensure everything is in order, including collecting your rent and submitting the relevant documentation to the PRTB.
The managing agent can also handle the negotiations at the end of the tenancy should the tenants wish to stay on or will arrange the move-out of the tenants, which normally includes an inspection of the property, checking the agreed inventory, the transfer of utilities and the return of the security deposit to the tenants.
Many agents provide both letting and management services, the fees for which are tax-deductible.
Kersten Mehl is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland
Q We have received a bill from Revenue regarding Property Tax but are unsure how to go about self-assessing our property to check it’s correct. Can you please advise what we should do?
A Firstly, the “bill” you have received from Revenue is simply an estimate of your property tax liability based on the average band that properties in a particular area fall into. It is important to note the estimate is not based on an individual valuation of your property.
If you simply pay the estimated figure provided by Revenue, you may be at risk of under- or over-estimating the value of your property. Furthermore, the property valuation you determine now will be used as the basis for your property tax liability for the next three years so it is important that you are satisfied with it.
For most properties, it will be possible to arrive at the value without needing to have it professionally assessed, and there are a variety of online sources to assist you in determining the value of your property.
Revenue has produced its own online interactive guide which provides average indicative values for each electoral area for different property types e.g. detached, semi-detached, apartment, etc, based on the age of the property and average prices for that type of property in the area.
Other websites such as myhome.ie and daft.ie also have calculators. Most people will have an idea of asking prices for similar properties on the market in their local area and should use this information for comparison with their own property. You should also refer to the house price register (propertypriceregister.ie) which contains property selling prices since January 2010.
You should also consider some of the characteristics which affect the value of a property including:
Location and proximity to services
Size and layout of the property
General condition of the property
Availability of parking
Annual service charges (if applicable)
Aspect of the garden (eg southfacing)
Proximity to eyesores (pylons, landfill etc)
Once you have determined an approximate value for your property, you can then select the appropriate tax band using the calculator on the Revenue website or the table provided on the revenue website revenue.ie.
In some instances for properties under €1 million, such as “one off” properties, or if a property has been significantly altered it may be necessary to get a professional valuation. For valuations over €1m, a precise valuation is required by the Revenue Commissioners in order to accurately calculate the Local Property Tax due and in such cases you should employ the services of a professional valuer.
Ed Carey is chairman of the Residential Professional Group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland
Q I am about to renew my home insurance premium but have heard I may be paying more than I need to for the rebuilding costs. I have a four-bedroom semi-detached house in Dublin. Can you advise?
A House rebuilding costs have declined since the peak but have now stabilised over the past 12 months. Many people have not adjusted their insurance premiums to reflect this, many of which are index linked and in certain cases have increased. The house rebuilding costs refer to the costs to demolish the property and rebuild it in the event of a catastrophe (fire, flood etc). It is calculated on a total loss and typically covers items such as new foundations, walls, roofs, electrics, plumbing, heating, interiors, etc.
There is often confusion around what rebuilding costs are. The rebuilding costs are not the same as the market value of the property, nor can it form the basis for property tax calculations.
To calculate the rebuilding costs, calculate the total area of the property and multiply it by the rebuilding cost per square metre (a guide is available on scsi.ie). You would then add on any other items such as a garage and any higher than average specifications which would increase the rebuilding cost.
Looking at your case, according to the latest SCSI House Rebuilding Cost Guide, the minimum base rebuilding cost for your four-bedroom semi-detached house in Dublin is €209,804. Please note this would depend on your property being a standard four-bedroom home in an estate. If it is a non-standard house (Victorian, Georgian or Passive), my advice would be to seek expert advice.
Andrew Nugent is chairman of the Quantity Surveying Professional Group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie
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This column is a readers’ service. Advice given is general and individual
advice should always be sought