Home economics: Our property finance expert answers your questions

Q We own a holiday home which has given our family many happy years. We are now retired and have given the house to our three children who have families of their own and they arrange visits between them. We wanted them to own it entirely, rather than keep asking us if it was okay to go down. We drew up a contract via a solicitor a few years ago. However, now one of our children is going through a divorce and her husband is claiming a share of the property. We would be devastated if it had to be sold or otherwise encumbered with his name on it. What is he entitled to? We are very worried.

A This is a tricky one and I’m afraid I can’t answer it entirely based on the information you have provided.

Solicitor Susan Cosgrove says: “It is not clear whether a transfer of the property has actually taken place as the query mentions that a contract was drawn up. If this is still resting on contract, it can be rescinded and/or re-written, however if the property has already been transferred over to your children then it is an asset which will unfortunately be accounted for in divorce proceedings”.

Clearly, this one child has only ownership of a portion of the property, but it is an asset and will have to be disclosed in her Affidavit of Means. Generally speaking, a monetary equivalent may be determined, rather than transferring or splitting ownership of the property portion itself between your daughter and her ex-husband. It would be unlikely that a court would insist on, say, his rights to spend a portion of a year there, for instance. And why would he want to, in any event?

Your daughter should speak with her solicitor on this, if she hasn’t already, but honestly, you shouldn’t worry about it from your own perspective. This is effectively out of your hands legally, if not emotionally.


Q We are refurbishing our bathroom and making it bigger by knocking through into a small box room. I really want a standalone claw foot bathtub as I think they are gorgeous but wonder is this a sensible idea? They are certainly very expensive and I don’t want to spend the money if it’s silly. Its location will be in what was the bedroom, so there is plumbing extension required.

A Richard Sloan, Managing Director of Sonas Bathrooms advises: “Free-standing baths are growing in popularity again, whether it’s a traditional claw foot style or a more contemporary design, and answering the question of them being sensible or value for money is dependent on a number of factors such as space, usage and budget.

“In most new bathroom designs or significant refurbishment projects, the ideal scenario will provide sufficient space for a bath and a shower enclosure. You mention extending the bathroom by knocking into an adjacent bedroom so let’s assume you will have space for both.

“The cost of a free-standing bath does not necessarily have to be very expensive as prices will also vary greatly depending on the material it is manufactured from, e.g. Acrylic, Composite, Enamelled Steel or Cast Iron. Ensuring the necessary plumbing requirements are provided for is crucial, and in your application, you will require water supply to the taps and a waste connection to remove the water. Always get a qualified installer to provide a full survey when planning your bathroom design as this will help you determine the total cost of your project and identify any potential unforeseen costs”.

Email your questions to [email protected]


The Ryan Review

When banks were permitted to skirt around the loan-to-value and loan-to-income rules that apply to regular mortgage applicants in the re-drawing of the Central Bank’s mortgage lending guidelines, most people thought they’d use up their limits in the first quarter of the year. After all, there are plenty of good quality, high earning potential borrowers out there, especially what the Central Bank terms SSBs (second and subsequent buyers). Why wouldn’t banks be rushing to scoop them up?

But it turns out that lenders have been undershooting on their limits, which is frustrating for borrower and lender alike. Why? Well mostly because the rules are applied too rigidly and human nature, and mortgages being what they are, act against the implementation of the LTV and LTI derogations, making both too cautious.

From a borrower’s perspective, they may be advised to make applications to more than one bank, for instance, then get an offer, and drop the financial house which may have been ear-marking them for the outsize loan. Delays in processing mortgages, which can tip into many months for legal or other reasons, mean a customer can go over a ‘year’, meaning the application goes ‘off the boil’ and the exemption is lost.

The answer is to ease up on the reporting requirement. If banks were allowed to even out the 15pc or 20pc over-and-above loans on a three-year rather than one-year basis, they and their borrowers could relax a little.

Sinead Ryan presents ‘The Home Show’ on Newstalk 106FM on Saturdays at 9am

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