Q I planned to buy an apartment I saw advertised by an estate agency as an investment for my pension. I noticed the apartment was withdrawn from that agency and subsequently appeared advertised on a property website as being part of an auction, late last year. I successfully bid for the apartment and, as required, I paid 10 per cent deposit and signed a contract to complete the sale there and then.
The seller is bank A through receiver B. When I approached my own bank C to obtain the mortgage, for which I was already approved, they advised that the title of the property was not in order as it is sold through a receiver and that no mortgage loan would therefore be available.
I am now in a serious position as I appear to have paid a deposit on a property for which no mortgage is available and therefore I cannot complete the purchase. It is causing me no end of stress and I wonder if you could suggest a solution. My solicitor has suggested Distressed Title Insurance Bond but I don't know what this is and if it will be accepted by my bank. I am desperately seeking any solution – can you advise?
A When a property is selling by auction any interested purchaser can see a copy of the contract before the auction so that he can talk to his bank about loan approval, have a survey completed and request his solicitor to review the contract and title and make enquiries pre auction. If you buy at auction, as you did in this case, you immediately enter into a binding contract.
Auctions are a popular way for a bank to sell repossessed properties. When property is being sold by receivers on behalf of a bank, neither the bank nor the receiver will have all the knowledge relating to the property that an owner has.
The bank and receiver attempt to limit their liability under the contract and will insert conditions restricting the purchaser’s rights to enquire about matters such as planning, property disputes with adjoining landowners, services to the property and whether any notices have been served on the owner.
You are now in the difficult position of being bound into a contract and unable to finance its purchase. Assuming it is not possible to re-negotiate the terms of the contract, you should ask your solicitor to enquire with your bank as to which conditions in the contract are causing difficulty. It may be possible to deal with some issues yourself, eg a planning issue where you could instruct your own architect .
I note your solicitor has discussed title insurance with you. Defective title insurance, as the name implies, is insurance taken out to cover you and the bank against any defect in the title to your property that may arise at some point in the future. You need to advise the insurance company of the nature of the defect that you wish to insure against.
Defects could be a potential claim by a third party against the property or a document of title that is missing. Defective title insurance does not cover all problems with title, eg defects in planning permission. Ask your solicitor to speak to the insurance company to confirm the level and type of cover you could get, and then approach your bank again.
Anne O'Sullivan is a conveyancing solicitor with Rennick Solicitors, rennick.ie
Q We recently found mould on the wall behind the wardrobe in my boyfriend's mother's house. We quickly cleaned and treated with bleach. The walls are covered in a polystyrene-type paper. About a week later we noticed tiny, white mites crawling all over the surface of her wardrobe. Having done some research it would appear that these were mould mites. I am at a loss to explain what has attracted them. What can we do to get rid of them? The house was built in the 1940s and has double glazing, central heating and cavity insulation.
A Probably these insects are either Tyrophagus putrescentiae or T. longior, commonly referred to as mould mites. As the name suggests, they are species that feed on mould that can form on any surface, usually stored foodstuffs such as cheese or nuts but often multiplying on moulds growing due to dampness caused by condensation in buildings.
These insects have a short lifespan but can also multiply rapidly if conditions are right. In sufficiently large numbers they can cause skin or respiratory allergies. The good news is that they can be simply eradicated and if breeding conditions are removed they will not usually return.
To kill the mites a dilute solution of household bleach sprayed around the area as you suggest will usually work. However, unless the source of food, eg the mould, is removed then dormant eggs will hatch and re-infest the area quite quickly.
You say the house has had cavity insulation. There may still be cold spots which can be a location for condensation leading to mould, so you should get an infra-red thermal survey carried out to ensure the insulation is competent and there are no cold spots.
In any event, the construction of a 1940s house may only have 50mm cavities, so while it is still a good idea to insulate them, it falls far short of current demand for insulation value, and other solutions might still be needed.
You also mention that there is polystyrene thermal lining on the walls. This really has little or no energy-saving benefit, and can promote an ideal environment when condensation mould forms in the glue which the mites then feed on and multiply upon, so removal is the best policy.
One of the main causes of condensation in houses is high vapour pressure on cold surfaces. This is caused by increased temperature drawing dampness into the air from some source. In a 1940s house this typically could be the undercroft below timber floating floors. At that time there was usually no vapour barrier installed and the warmth in the house above creates an imbalance, drawing vapour upwards if the vents are compromised.
Improving air quality is a good way to reduce condensation. This can be done by installing heat recovery ventilation, but there are a number of items to get right if considering this solution.
If the problem persists ask your local building surveyor to investigate.
Fergus Merriman is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie
Down the drain
Q I am replacing gutters and down-pipes at the front of my house, which faces onto a footpath. The existing down-pipes take a route involving two angles to a drain, or shore, on my property. To save money, it has been suggested that the down-pipes are simplified, and that they should discharge onto the footpath. Do I need permission for this?
A It is not uncommon to see downpipes discharge directly onto footpaths, particularly in urban areas. In the past this was accepted practice, particularly when road surfaces, and indeed paths, were permeable and water would soak away to the ground.
The introduction of impermeable tar and concrete meant that rainwater gullies were necessary to deliver water to the drainage system. If water was discharged to the path or road, this could lead to ponding or flooding.
Your property faces onto the public footpath. You advise that there are inlet gullies on your property. It has been suggested that the gullies can be done away with and that water can simply be discharged onto the footpath. I would not recommend this.
It may lead to ponding on the path or roadway and this can lead to splashing and wetting of your property. It is important that rainwater is carried away to reduce the occurrence of dampness, or the creation of a hazard in cold weather when the water freezes.
The discharge of water onto the public footpath or roadway is not allowed by local authorities and most modern planning permissions will have a condition to this effect. I would recommend that if you are replacing the downpipes that you maintain the existing gullies/inlets.
Noel Larkin is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie