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How can I fix my leaky conservatory?

Property clinic: Our property experts tackle your property queries

Where workmanship is poor there will be sufficient gaps to allow windblown water passage into the building. Photograph: Thinkstock

Q Every time the wind blows from the east with rain, water is centrifuged up under the flashing on our conservatory roof and we have to place buckets under leaks. We have tried to have the flashing fixed, to no avail. The flashing is moulded across risen beams that hold the glass roof up, so this naturally creates gaps. We are tempted to go out there on a dry day with a plastic-filler gun, but might this make it worse?

A Wind driven rain will find its way past flashing that was installed with only gravity pulled rain and minor side travel in mind. In heavy winds, sheets of rain can be blown sideways and even upwards during strong gusts. Allied to this, there may be a low pitch on the roof which will exacerbate the problem. Other problems may be that glazed roofs can have failed seals (perished or defective rubber gaskets), movement on the frame and or slippage of the glazed units. The flashing itself may have failed or may not be long enough.

However judging by your comments, the problem is accentuated under a prevailing easterly wind with driven rain. Generally the solution to wind driven rain is to seal (mastic or other) in the “it would never leak there” areas of the flashing. This will be under the flashing at the glazing frame edges and at the glazing ends.

Quite often part of the problem may be that the flashing lap or depth is short. A short lap or depth reduces the length for windblown water to enter which greatly increases the risk of water penetration. As you have pointed out the flashing is dressed around the frame. Where workmanship is poor there will be sufficient gaps here to allow windblown water passage into the building. My advice to this problem is simple.

Firstly, you should try and identify the contractor/glazing firm which supplied and installed the system. There are a number of good reasons for this approach: the company will be familiar with their system and guarantees may still be in place.

If this is not possible I would try to source a reputable firm that is familiar with the system to inspect and quote on fixing the problem. My concern with DIY is that if the design parameters of the conservatory are unknown the structure may not support additional weight (that of a handyman, for example).

In addition, any self-maintenance is not covered by guarantee and work on a glazed roof must be carried out by a competent contractor who is properly equipped and who will understand the system and working environment.

Robert Patterson is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) building surveying professional group.

Giving a tenant notice

Q I recently served a notice of termination on a tenant due to the fact that he had failed to pay his rent for a number of months. A couple of days later the tenant paid the outstanding amount in full and stated that he wished to remain in the property. Where do I stand? Can I still ask him to vacate the property given that the notice of termination has already been served?

A The most important thing is to follow the correct procedure, as set out on the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) website and, more particularly, in the legislation. Any error made will invalidate the notice and give the tenant adequate grounds to appeal to the PRTB.

A valid notice must be in writing and be signed by the landlord or his or her authorised agent.

It must specify the date of service; state the reason for termination (where the tenancy has lasted for more than six months or is a fixed-term tenancy); specify the termination date and also that the tenant has the whole 24 hours of this date to vacate possession; state that any issue as to the validity of the notice or the right of the landlord to serve it must be referred to the Private Residential Tenancies Board within 28 days from the receipt of the notice.

A termination for rent arrears has three steps. First you must notify the tenant that he or she is in arrears, that the tenant is allowed a reasonable time to remedy that breach of obligation and that the landlord is entitled to terminate the tenancy if the tenant fails to remedy that breach of obligation within the period specified. This can be done verbally but it is wiser to have everything in writing.

You must allow “a reasonable time” to pay the rent arrears. This varies depending on the circumstances.

The second step must be in writing. It is a 14-day warning notice for failure to pay rent. The landlord must serve a written notice on the tenant informing him or her of the amount of rent that is due.

The landlord must then give the tenant 14 days to pay those arrears. The third step, if the rent is not paid within that time, is for the landlord to serve a 28-day notice of termination.

If you have followed the procedures correctly and the reason for termination was valid when the notice was served, the tenant’s subsequent rent payment does not invalidate the notice.

It is a commercial decision for you to make and you will need to use your judgment – perhaps the tenant is genuine and there will be no further arrears. If you do not believe this to be the case, you may be better off proceeding with the termination.

Bear in mind that the tenant may appeal to the PRTB but they should not receive a sympathetic hearing if they failed to pay the arrears within the 14-day notice period of step two above.

Useful templates of the various notices are available on the PRTB website but, given the various pitfalls, I recommend that landlords seek expert advice from their property manager or solicitor before proceeding with termination notices or similar. Simon Stokes is a chartered residential surveyor and chair of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) residential agency surveying professional group.

 

The rent a room scheme

QDoes taking in students on a seasonal basis qualify one for the tax break, or does it have to be a continuous rental? Also, are refurbishment and furnishing costs associated with such room rental tax deductible?

A If you let a room (or rooms) in your sole or main residence – on either a continuous or a seasonal basis – as residential accommodation and the gross amount received (“relevant sums”), including monies for food, laundry or similar goods and services, does not exceed the limit for the year of assessment (currently €12,000 per annum), the profits or losses on the relevant sums are treated as nil for income tax purposes.

Thus, these profits are disregarded for income tax, PRSI and Universal Social Charge (USC). (USC replaced income and health levy from 1/1/2011).

Refurbishment and furnishing costs associated with such a room rental are not tax deductible and losses cannot be offset against rental profits from other lettings.

Total relevant sums are a gross figure, ie no account is taken of any expenses incurred in generating the relevant sums. The relief does not affect your entitlement to mortgage interest relief or capital gains tax exemption on the disposal of your residence.

Where more than one individual is entitled to the relevant sums, the limit is divided equally between them. I would also recommend that you check with your financial adviser and/or local tax office before proceeding.

Karol Jackson O’Shea is a chartered residential surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) residential agency surveying professional group

Send your queries to propertyquestions@irishtimes.com or to Property Clinic, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. This column is a readers’ service. Advice given is general and individual advice should always be sought