We are a couple working in Dublin but wish to move out of it and move to Cork in the next 12-18 months or so. We have recently seen a few houses that would interest us become available in Cork. However, if we were to purchase now while continuing to rent in Dublin for 18 months or so (while we work on getting jobs in Cork or arranging remote working from Cork) the double whammy of Dublin rents and mortgage repayments in Cork would not be affordable. Likewise, paying 40 per cent tax on any rental income from a Cork property would also not be affordable while also paying Dublin rent. Would we be able to rent out the property short term on the rent-a-room scheme with a view to moving in full-time in a year or so, or is our only option to move to Cork and rent while looking for a property to buy?
In some respects, the answer is in your question. Due to the very high cost of renting in Dublin, it would probably be prudent to simply move to Cork and rent there while you are looking to purchase. It is not clear from your question if you are from Cork or not, but logic would say that if you are not, and you are not very familiar with Cork , moving there and living there while looking to purchase will give you a much better feel for where you would like to end up buying.
If it was the case, however, that you were to purchase in Cork but remain in Dublin and move in at a later date, the answer is as follows: the rent-a-room scheme and all the added tax benefits that go with it is for people who actually live in the property at the same time as the rent-a-room occupant, and your agreement with them would be extremely straightforward.
I can imagine that there might be a reluctance on your side to give a standard lease and register it with the RTB as a normal tenancy. The tenants would be entitled to security of tenure under Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004, and amended in the Acts of 2015 and 2016, allowing for a right to a six-year tenancy except in certain circumstances, including when the landlord needs it for their own or family use.
I imagine from your question that you might wish to remain in Dublin for the time being but purchase a house in Cork and draw rental income with the flexibility of taking back the property quickly. The best solution I can think of to achieve this would be to rent the new home out to family or friends in the area, or explore renting out each room on a licence agreement. In saying that, before you make any decisions you should get legal advice on what the best approach is for your personal circumstances from someone who is an expert in the legislation on this complex area. Alternatively, you could contact a landlord association and get more guidance on the matter.
Marcus O’Connor is a chartered surveyor estate agent and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland www.scsi.ie