Consequences Of Purchasing A Property Involving A Gift

Is Revenue Looking Your Gift Horse In The Mouth?

Important information for those receiving a gift towards the purchase of their property

If you’re lucky enough to be receiving a gift towards the purchase of your new home or property it is very important that you read the following from start to finish. It contains valuable information in relation to tax implications and other matters which may arise as a result of your windfall.

My parents are giving me €100,000 towards the purchase of my new home which is costing €500,000.  Am I not entitled to receive a straightforward gift from my own family to help us out?

If you are buying your property as sole owner and the gift is from parent to child, then, assuming you have received no prior gifts or inheritances from your parents, €100,000 falls well under the current tax-free threshold amount for gifts/inheritances between parents and children (otherwise known as capital acquisitions tax – CAT) and there will be no CAT payable by you. However, you are obliged to inform Revenue, as any gift to you during your parents’ lifetime will be deducted from your inheritance tax-free allowance on their death. There are exceptions to this however, for example when a certain amount of time has elapsed since the gift was made. Please see HERE for tax thresholds and other information in relation to CAT.

My spouse is purchasing this property jointly with me. Isn’t it up to me whether or not my spouse will benefit from the gift?

Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as a free lunch! As potential joint owners, your spouse will own 50% of the property you are purchasing. Consequently, in the case described above, your spouse would be considered to be receiving the benefit of 50% of the gift from your parents (i.e. €50,000).

Despite being their daughter or son-in-law, your spouse is considered to be a “stranger in blood” to your parents. This status falls under the Group C threshold – currently only €16,250.

Therefore, subject to the small gift exemption which may apply to the gift, your spouse will be liable for tax (currently at the rate of 33%) on the balance, i.e:

€50,000, less threshold of €16,250 = €33,750.

This figure equates to a whopping tax bill of €11,137.50 for your spouse which no doubt would be far better spent on your new home.

If, however, your spouse can prove that he or she contributed an equal amount to the gift out of their own money directly towards the purchase, then this could be used to offset your gift and the property can be owned on a 50/50 joint tenancy basis. Your spouse would however have to demonstrate this by corresponding banking transactions.

But we are a married couple – isn’t any gift between us tax-free?

In the normal course of events, a married couple can “gift” any amount of money or assets from one to another without any liability to tax. In this case, however, Revenue will view the gift as being a direct benefit from parent to daughter or son-in-law.  It is only after a period of three years following the gift that a spouse may benefit under a husband to wife scenario. This is called the rule against gift splitting.

Therefore, if the gift was given to you say two years ago and you were to wait a further year before purchasing a house together, in that case, there would be no tax liability for your spouse.

We want to buy our house now – is there anything we can do to avoid a large tax bill?

Yes.  You can opt to purchase your property as “tenants-in-common” (as opposed to a joint tenancy) in proportionate shares which take into account the percentage of the purchase price constituted by the gift. As tenants in common, this does however mean that, in theory, either party is entitled to dispose of their share of the property either by selling it or bequeathing it to a third party under their Will without your consent. This means that if you do acquire the property as tenants in common it would be extremely important for each of you to make a Will specifically stating how your share in the property should pass to the surviving owner on your death.

After the three year period has elapsed, as you are married, you will then be entitled to transfer the property into your joint names as joint tenants with no liability to capital acquisitions tax or capital gains tax, assuming you are both living together. Once registered as such in the Land Registry, on the death of either spouse the other will automatically inherit the deceased’s share with no tax consequences and sale of the property cannot take place without the other’s consent under any circumstances.

How is the tenancy in common calculated?

Using the figures referred to above, your spouse’s €50,000 share equates to 10% of the purchase price. Therefore, ownership of the property as tenants-in-common would be on a 45%/55% basis in favour of the spouse who received the gift.

Read more about this topic HERE.

We are co-habitants and may or may not marry in the future – what about us?

As co-habitants you are unfortunately currently still considered to be “strangers in blood” in the eyes of the Revenue. When purchasing your property, you can however avail of the “tenants-in-common” scenario described above.

I have received the gift from somebody other than a parent – what then?

This will undoubtedly result in significant tax liability for you as the direct beneficiary. Please refer to the Revenue’s website for further information. As regards your spouse, however, the situation as outlined above will remain the same.

Can we not just accept the gift as a “loan” and avoid all of this?

If you decide to treat it as a personal loan and repay the money to your parents/ benefactor over a period of time, then yes, it can be considered a loan. However, if you are availing of a mortgage to purchase your property, your lender will require evidence of how you received the money and how you intend paying it back without jeopardising your ability to discharge the monthly mortgage payments. Sometimes, a lender will require a commitment from you that the loan from your parents will not be paid back until after the mortgage loan has been repaid in full.

How do we go about transferring the property into joint names after the three year period is up?

This is a fairly simple and inexpensive matter which can be done by your solicitor. A deed will be drawn up, transferring the property between you both as joint tenants by way of “natural love and affection” and registering the document in the Land Registry. As you are spouses, there is no stamp duty and no registration fees are payable to the Land Registry. Furthermore, as set out above, there will be no capital gains tax on the transfer of the property provided you and your spouse are living together under the same roof at the time of the transfer.

My parents are selling their house to me/us at a reduced price – does this also constitute a gift?

Yes, it does and it is treated the same as if it were a cash advance. A valuation of the property must be carried out by a registered professional at the time of the sale stating the full market value at that date. You are entitled to obtain a number of valuations and select the lowest value applied to the property, assuming it is not inordinately low. The difference between the sale price and the valuation constitutes the gift amount. It should be also be noted that stamp duty is payable on the full market value.

So now that we have got over that bombshell, is there anything else we need to know about when receiving a gift towards purchasing our property?

Yes!  There is one further matter which relates to the title to your property which must be addressed.

If you are availing of a mortgage, your benefactor (the person or persons giving the gift) is obliged to sign a Deed of Confirmation. This document confirms that they will have absolutely no right over or interest in the property, either real or financial on foot of their gift to you. In other words, they cannot at some point in the future say “hey, wait a minute, I gave you €100,000 towards buying that house – I own one-fifth of it” (or something along those lines!).

As part of our undertaking to your lender, we must be able to give them comfort that when it comes to the title to your property, you and your spouse as mortgagors are the only persons entitled to ownership and, in the unlikely event that the lender were to re-possess the property there will be nothing (or nobody) impeding this.

A Deed of Confirmation is not the same as a gift letter (which will likely already have been signed by your parents). It will require attendance by your parent/s at the office of an independent solicitor who will witness the signing of the Deed and provide us with a letter confirming that independent legal advice was given. If the gift is coming from one parent only then their spouse will be required to sign a consent to the giving of the gift.

This will attract fees for you/your parents which will need to be borne in mind. You should advise your benefactor of this requirement and satisfy yourself that they are agreeable to do so before you sign contracts to purchase your property.

THE ABOVE IS A GUIDE ONLY – WE ARE NOT TAX ADVISORS.
Please note whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the contents of the above article it is not to be construed as legal or taxation advice nor does it purport to be so. Specific tailored advice is required for every specific scenario. Amorys Solicitors is a boutique commercial and private client law firm in Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland.
For further information and advice in relation to “Consequences Of Purchasing A Property Involving A Gift”, please contact Wendy Scales, Legal Executive at Amorys Solicitors wendy@amoryssolicitors.com, telephone 01 213 5940 or your usual contact at Amorys.

Conveyancing Clients’ Competition

Conveyancing Clients’ Competition

Become one of our next 50 conveyancing clients starting today (1st day of November 2020) (“entry date”) and have a chance to win a super cash prize of€750! Good luck to all participating clients!

Question: What do you have to do to enter the competition?

Answer: Comply with the entry criteria as follows:-

  1. Instruct Amorys to act on your behalf in the sale or purchase of a house, duplex or apartment.
  2. Complete the sale or purchase in the normal way.
  3. Discharge Amorys’ fees and outlay as agreed.
  4. Provide the correct answers to 3 questions which we will send to you by email after your sale/purchase has been completed. All entrants will be asked the same questions.
  5. Await the result of the competition.

Conditions and Additional Information

  • If your sale or purchase does not proceed for any reason, you will not be eligible to participate in the competition.
  • For the avoidance of doubt, there is only one prize of €750. Joint sellers/purchasers will have to share the spoils!
  • The draw amongst successful participants (i.e. everyone who satisfies the entry criteria) will take place 14 days subsequent to completion of the 50th new sale and purchase agreed with clients subsequent to the Entry Date. Your Entry Date will be the date you sign and return your Letter of Engagement to Amorys. For obvious reasons, we cannot give any commitment as to when the draw will take place.
  • The draw will be conducted by one of our solicitors who will randomly pick the name/s of the lucky winner from a box containing the name/s and contact details of all eligible participants. An independent observer will supervise the draw.
  • We will notify the winner by phone and email immediately subsequent to the draw.
  • The prize will be paid immediately by EFT to your bank account or by cheque as the winner may direct.
  • Our Letter of Engagement will contain an opt-out option for any client who does not wish to participate in the competition. All other clients will automatically be entered in the competition in the absence of ticking the opt-out option. By accepting the prize the winner/s grants Amorys the right to use and publish his/her name in such media as Amorys may choose (including but not limited to the internet) for advertising and promotional purposes without additional consideration.
  • A copy of our Data Protection Policy can be found here.
Amorys Solicitors is a boutique commercial and private client law firm in Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland.
For further information and advice in relation to “Conveyancing Clients’ Competition”, please contact Deirdre Farrell, partner, Amorys Solicitors deirdre@amoryssolicitors.com, telephone 01 213 5940 or your usual contact at Amorys.

Urban Development & Building Heights in Strategic Development Zones

Since the issue of the Urban Development and Building Heights Guidelines by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government in December 2018 (the “Guidelines”), land owners and developers are understandably anxious to know how these guidelines will apply to proposed developments of land, the subject of planning applications. The below case note sets out when a planning authority is required to apply the Guidelines and offers a solution for developers of sites for residential use in SDZs where the Guidelines have not yet been implemented.

The High Court case of Spencer Place Development Limited –v- Dublin City Council [2019   IEHC 384] concerned the interpretation of the statutory Guidelines. Judgment was handed down by Justice Garrett Simons in May 2019 and dealt with the central issue in the case regarding the interaction between the Guidelines and existing planning schemes adopted in strategic development zones (SDZs).

The main contention in the case concerned Dublin City Council’s interpretation of a particular provision of the Guidelines known as specific planning policy requirement 3 (A) or “SPPR3 (A)” in the context of the consideration of planning applications already submitted to it. The Guidelines were issued by the Minister pursuant to s. 28 of the Planning & Development Act 2000 (“Section 28”). A planning authority is required, under Section 28 to have regard to ministerial guidelines and to comply with specific planning policy requirements. The question was whether SPPR 3(A) applied to plan schemes where it stated it applied to ‘development plans’ only. A Briefing Note on the Guidelines prepared by Dublin City Planning Officer stated that SPPR 3(A) did not apply to the development proposed for a planning scheme area.

BACKGROUND & LEGAL ISSUES

The plaintiff developer had two pending planning applications before Dublin City Council where the height of the development would exceed the maximum building height under the applicable planning scheme. The developer argued that the Guidelines permitted the planning authority to legally grant the planning permission despite the height restrictions of the North Lotts planning scheme. The court was asked to make a declaration firstly that the Briefing Note of 21 January 2019 was ultra vires or outside the powers of Dublin City Council Planning Authority and secondly, that the Council was obliged to apply SPPR 3 (A) of the Guidelines from the date of their publication in December 2018 and prior to undertaking any review of the North Lotts and Grand Canal Planning Scheme.

SPPR3 provides as follows:-

“It is a specific planning policy requirement that where;

(A)

  1. an applicant for planning permission sets out how a development proposal complies with the criteria above; and
  2. the assessment of the planning authority concurs, taking account of the wider strategic and national policy parameters set out in the National Planning Framework and these guidelines; then the planning authority may approve such development, even where specific objectives of the relevant development plan or local area plan may indicate otherwise.

(B)

In the case of an adopted planning scheme, the Development Agency in conjunction with the relevant planning authority (where different) shall,  upon the coming into force of these guidelines, undertake a review of the planning scheme, utilising the relevant mechanisms as set out in the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) to ensure that the criteria above are fully reflected in the planning scheme. In particular, the Government policy that building heights be generally increased in appropriate urban locations shall be articulated in any amendment(s) to the planning scheme

(C)

In respect of planning schemes approved after the coming into force of these guidelines, these are not required to be reviewed.”

The defendant Dublin City Council argued that the judicial review proceedings brought by the developer were premature as while both planning application decisions were pending there was, therefore, no ‘decision’ or ‘act’ that could be the subject of judicial review and that the ordinary meaning must be given to the word ‘development plan’ in SPPR3(A) above. Arising from the application of the ‘ordinary meaning’ test for interpretation, and after having considered the full text of SPPR3, DCC argued that all the guidelines required it to do, was undertake a review of the planning scheme in accordance with SPPR3 (B): SPPR3 did not necessarily require a Planning Authority to amend the planning scheme to incorporate increased building heights, DCC argued.  The developer contended that the Briefing Note issued by the City Council Planning Officer regarding his interpretation of the building height guidelines was ‘justiciable’.

HIGH COURT DECISION

Justice Simons refused to grant Spencer Place Development Limited its three declarations and held in favour of DCC.

CONCLUSIONS FOR DEVELOPERS

This judgment is of interest to developers as it highlights the following:-

  1. Where an amendment to a planning scheme is pending, a planning application will be decided upon by reference to the existing planning scheme.
  2. The building height restrictions of an existing planning scheme within an SDZ cannot be circumvented by reference to the Guidelines.
  3. It clarifies that a planning authority is required to apply the Guidelines when assessing planning applications outside an SDZ. This means that one possible solution for a developer, when faced with a refusal of planning permission in an SDZ on grounds of building heights, might be to apply for permission for the same development under the fast-track Strategic Housing Development process. This is because the relevant legislation[1] does not differentiate between property located in a development plan, a local area plan or a planning scheme. However, the proposed development would need to consist of at least 100 residential units or 200 student units or a combination of both.
  4. Developers are also reminded that there is no right to appeal a decision to refuse planning permission in an SDZ on grounds that an extant planning scheme did not incorporate subsequently issued SPPRs.
  5. Whilst the subject of costs formed a separate judgment of Simons J. this case also demonstrates the requirement for a plaintiff developer to await a decision from the planning authority prior to issuing judicial review proceedings. It was held by Simons J. in a further judgment delivered in the costs application that the developer was unable to make the argument that both parties should bear their own costs pursuant to s. 50B of the Planning & Development Act 2000 by reason of the finding (amongst others) that the Briefing Note did not amount to a ‘decision’ capable of forming judicial review under that section. Simons J made an order directing the plaintiff to discharge DCC’s costs under the ordinary rule set out in Order 99 of the Rules of the Superior Courts that costs follow the event/ the winner at the absolute discretion of the Court.

The Irish Times has reported that the developer has appealed the substantive decision of Judge Simons to the Court of Appeal.  The appeal could also affect the costs order. In addition, DCC has proposed an amendment to the planning scheme which would increase building height restrictions in the North Lotts and Grand Canal SDZ. We will update this note as soon as the decision in the appeal has been published.

[1] See the definition of ‘Strategic Housing Development’ in s. 3 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2014

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, it has been provided for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Amorys Solicitors is a boutique commercial and private client law firm in Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland.
For further information and advice in relation to “Urban Development & Building Heights in Strategic Development Zones”, please contact Deirdre Farrell, partner, Amorys Solicitors deirdre@amoryssolicitors.com or Daragh Burke daragh@amoryssolicitors.com, telephone 01 213 5940 or your usual contact at Amorys.

Selling Residential Property in Ireland via Amorys Solicitors

Selling Residential Property via Amorys Solicitors

What are you paying us to do?

When selling residential property you will be required to work in conjunction with your solicitor at Amorys throughout the conveyancing progress. There is certain information only you can provide and if this is done in a timely fashion this will enable the transaction to move forward smoothly for you as the vendor and for the purchaser.

Prior to drawing up contracts, in addition to information gathered from you, the vendor, your solicitor will need to read the title deeds and prepare various documents to provide to the purchaser’s solicitor so that he/she can provide the purchaser with a full picture of the property they are buying.

The steps of selling residential property are as follows:

  1. If there is a mortgage over the property, you will sign a letter of authority which will be sent to your lender by us in order to take up the title deeds. You will also be furnished with an introductory letter, a comprehensive questionnaire and our Guide to Selling Residential Property which attaches a checklist of the documents/ actions required from you.
  2. Once received, your solicitor will read the title documentation in conjunction with the replies to your questionnaire and the following documents will be drawn up:
    • Draft Contract for Sale
    • Replies to Requisitions on Title
    • Family Home Protection Act Declaration
    • Section 72 Declaration
    • Declaration re alterations (if any) to your property
    • Undertaking to discharge your mortgage – if applicable
    • Undertaking to assist with any Land Registry queries which may arise
    • Any other declarations or undertakings which may be required by the purchaser’s solicitor
    • Tax clearance application (if necessary)
  3. If your property is a managed property, enquiries will need to be made with the management company and Multi-Unit Development (MUDs) Act replies to requisitions obtained. In addition, if you are selling an apartment, your solicitor will need to obtain various additional documents from the management company such as an up to date service charge statement and a letter of indemnity in relation to the block insurance policy, all of which must be handed over to the purchaser’s solicitor well in advance of the closing date.
  4. Your solicitor may also need to obtain a letter from the Local Authority confirming the roads and services abutting your property have been taken in charge and a certified copy Folio and Filed Plan from the Land Registry. There may also be planning issues to be dealt with in relation to any alterations or extensions to the property. Further work arises, if your property is the subject of any type of co-ownership agreement with the local council. If your property is registered in the Registry of Deeds, then your solicitor will need to liaise with an architect to provide an approved map for handing over to the purchaser’s solicitor for the purpose of an application for first registration in the Land Registry.
  5. Your solicitor will regularly liaise with you with regard to obtaining other information from you such as Local Property Tax payment and printout, service charge payment and any other queries which may arise via the purchaser’s solicitor.
  6. Your solicitor will need to obtain regularly updated redemption figures from your lender showing the amount required to discharge the loan over your property. This information will be provided to the purchaser’s solicitor prior to the closing date and will also be required to enable your solicitor to discharge the mortgage in full immediately after the sale has completed.
  7. Prior to contracts being signed and exchanged, the purchaser’s solicitor very often raises pre-contract queries which we will deal on your behalf. This may involve some ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ between solicitors until the purchaser and their solicitor are satisfied with the replies.
  8. The purchaser will then sign the contract in duplicate and his/her solicitor will return same with the balance of the deposit to us.
  9. Prior to the closing date, your solicitor will meet with you for the purpose of signing the closing documents referred to. Your solicitor will also need to prepare an apportionment account in relation to Local Property Tax and service charges (if appropriate).
  10. Just before the transaction completes, all title documents, together with the additional closing documents, will be sent to the purchaser’s solicitor. The balance of the purchase moneys will be received into our client account to be held on trust pending a successful completion.
  11. On the closing date, the purchaser’s solicitor will obtain searches which will be transmitted to us for an explanation (if necessary) and certification.

Post-Completion

  1. Once the sale has closed, we will be required to do the following:
    • Discharge all mortgages/loans over the property to your lender
    • Provide you with a cash statement showing all required financial transactions
    • Follow up with the relevant party and discharge any undertakings given to the purchaser’s solicitor
    • Once received, send e-discharge relating to your mortgage to the purchaser’s solicitor
    • Follow up with purchaser’s solicitor to release us from undertakings

The selling residential property procedures above are a simplified version of the conveyancing process. A conveyancing transaction requires many hours of work for your solicitor and every sale is different but all conveyancing cases have one thing in common – they all need the care and attention to detail that only comes from instructing an experienced professional.  We provide excellent value for money to our clients and are confident that we provide a highly competitive and first-class service.

Red Adair once said .. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur”!

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, it has been provided for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Amorys Solicitors is a boutique commercial and private client law firm in Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland.
For further information and advice in relation to “Selling Residential Property in Ireland”, please contact Deirdre Farrell, partner, Amorys Solicitors deirdre@amoryssolicitors.com, telephone 01 213 5940 or your usual contact at Amorys.

Purchasing Residential Property via Amorys Solicitors

Purchasing Residential Property via Amorys Solicitors

What are you paying us to do?

At Amorys we do our utmost to make this very important event in your life run as smoothly as possible for you. We endeavour to ensure that our clients are fully informed, both before and during the conveyancing process, as to the procedures involved and the pitfalls which may be encountered when purchasing residential property.

Purchasing Residential Property Procedures

The following is a simple guide to the procedures involved and what work will be completed by your solicitor at Amorys:

  1. You will give details of your solicitor to both the auctioneer and your lending institution. The auctioneer will provide your solicitor with a sales advice note.
  2. Your solicitor will write to you with a comprehensive introductory letter, a questionnaire for you to complete and our Amorys Guide to Purchasing Residential Property which provides you with detailed information of the conveyancing process.
  3. If they have not already done so, the vendor’s solicitor will take up the title deeds to the property.  A draft contract for sale will be drawn up by the vendor’s solicitor and this, together with the relevant supporting copy title documentation will be sent to your solicitor who will peruse the contract and all of the documents, including replies to Requisitions on Title, and identify any anomalies that may arise.
  4. More often than not, pre-contract enquiries will be raised by your solicitor.  These may be straightforward questions which are easily satisfied by the vendor’s solicitor or there may be more complex title problems.  They are rarely insurmountable but may be time-consuming to resolve.  Some queries may also arise as a result of answers you have provided in your questionnaire so it is very important that this is completed as accurately as possible.  For example, you must give us details of any works, such as an extension to the property, which you understand may have been carried out, so that we can ensure that we receive all necessary planning information from the vendor’s solicitor.  This forms an important part of the title and will be required by your lending institution.
  5. In some circumstances, the vendor or their solicitor may not be willing to provide information or documents which are considered necessary by your solicitor and there can be a considerable amount of “to-ing and fro-ing” until all is satisfactorily resolved.
  6. Once you and your solicitor are happy with the draft Contract for Sale then it is ready to be signed by you.  You will be fully advised by your solicitor as to the legalities of what you are signing.  At this time, you will be required to sign the mortgage deed and other documents, all of which will be fully explained to you.
  7. When we have transferred the balance of the deposit (received from you into our client account) to the vendor’s solicitor and the vendor also signs the Contract for Sale, one part is returned to your solicitor and a binding contract is in place.
  8. Your solicitor will continue to liaise with you regarding the progress of the conveyance, any outstanding matters relating to your loan, etc.  You will be provided with a cash statement outlining all your financial obligations prior to the closing date.
  9. Approximately ten days prior to the closing date, your solicitor will request drawdown of the loan money from your lending institution which will be paid into our client account.  If there is a balance of money required from you, you will be asked to furnish these funds to your solicitor a minimum of five working days prior to completion, together with fees, outlays and stamp duty payable.  Your solicitor will also ascertain from the vendor’s solicitor what is required vis-à-vis the apportionment of Local Property Tax and service charges (if applicable).  If you are purchasing an apartment, there are a number of additional documents which will need to obtained from the vendor’s solicitor prior to the closing date (such as block insurance indemnity letter, service charge history, etc.).
  10. On the completion date, searches against the property and the vendor will be carried out by your solicitor and any unexplained acts that arise will be certified by the vendor’s solicitor.  Once the searches are “clear” and all required title documents are received from the vendor’s solicitor then the balance of the purchase money are transferred/released and the transaction is complete.

Post Completion

  1. Even though you are in possession of your new property, your solicitor’s work is not over and the following will be required post-completion:
  • Payment of stamp duty online as soon as possible and obtaining a stamp duty certificate;
  • Following up on any undertakings given by the vendor’s solicitor – such as discharge of the vendor’s mortgage, payment of any outstanding service charges, LPT etc.
  • If necessary, preparing the documentation required for an application for first registration to the Land Registry;
  • Preparing all documents to be submitted to the Land Registry for registration;
  • When registration has been completed, scheduling all title documents and preparing the Certificate of Title for submission to your lending institution.
  1. When all of the above has been completed, your file is ready for archiving. Our firm is obliged by the Law Society to retain your file for up to 12 years. It is the practice of our firm to send files to an off-site storage facility.

The purchasing residential property procedures above are a simplified version of the conveyancing process.
A conveyancing transaction requires many hours of work for your solicitor and every purchase is different but all conveyancing cases have one thing in common – they all need the care and attention to detail that only comes from instructing an experienced professional.  We provide excellent value for money to our clients and are confident that we provide a highly competitive and first-class service.

Red Adair once said .. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur”!

Leading Dublin solicitors which provides high quality legal advice

Get Your Guide to Purchasing Residential Property

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, it has been provided for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Amorys Solicitors is a boutique commercial and private client law firm in Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland.
For further information and advice in relation to “Purchasing Residential Property via Amorys Solicitors”, please contact Deirdre Farrell, partner, Amorys Solicitors deirdre@amoryssolicitors.com, telephone 01 213 5940 or your usual contact at Amorys.

Help to Buy Scheme for First Time Buyers

First-time buyers will welcome the news that the Help to Buy scheme (the “HTB”) was extended for a further two years to 31 December 2021 in Budget 2020.  The Help to Buy Scheme is a tax refund of up to €20,000 which can be used towards the purchase price of a new home with a value of up to €500,000. The HTB had been due to be discontinued at the end of 2019.

How the Help to Buy Scheme Works

The help to buy scheme operates by providing a rebate of up to €20,000 of Income Tax and Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) paid by the first time buyers in the four years prior the purchase or new build.

The amount that can be claimed is the lesser of €20,000 or 5 % of the purchase price of the property or market value of the new build when completed up to a maximum of €500,000 as follows:

PURCHASE PRICE MAXIMUM REFUND ON PURCHASE AFTER 31/12/16
€200,000 €10,000
€250,000 €12,500
€300,000 €15,000
€400,000 €20,000
€500,000 €20,000
€501,000 €NIL

The rebate is only available for properties valued at €500,000 or less.

The maximum payment is €20,000 per property and applies regardless of how many people enter into a contract to buy a house. Payment of the rebate is made either directly to the developer (in the case of first time purchased properties) or to a bank account held with a specified qualifying lender in the case of self-built properties.

Retrospective applications are only available in limited situations – see below.  Generally in order to qualify for the HTB you must not yet have completed the purchase/ construction of your new home.

Only newly built dwellings (apartments, houses, etc) and self-builds are included in the scheme. Conversions and restorations of old or derelict homes do not qualify, but conversion of a non-domestic building for residential use may qualify.

It is a requirement of the scheme that a loan with a “qualifying lender” of at least 70% of the market value of the property is taken out.  Therefore cash purchasers and those with a loan to value ratio of less than 70% are excluded from this scheme.

If the property is a ‘first time purchased’ property, in order to qualify the developer or contractor must be on the Revenue’s list of approved developers and contractors.  In the case of self-builds, Revenue approval of the contractor is not required.

Who Can Make a Claim?

To claim the Help to Buy Scheme, you must:

  • be a first-time buyer;
  • buy or build a new property between 19 July 2016 and 31 December 2021;
  • live in the property as your main home for five years after you buy or build it; and
  • be tax compliant, if you are self-assessed you must also have tax clearance.

Retrospective claims are only granted where a contract for sale was executed between 19 July 2016 and 31 December 2016 (in the case of newly purchased property) or the first part of a qualifying loan was drawn down during that time in the case of self-builds.

To qualify, one must not have previously bought or built a house or apartment, either on his/her own or jointly with any other person. If a claimant is buying or building the new property with other people, they must also be first-time buyers.

The relevant section of the Help to Buy Legislation defines a first-time purchaser “as an individual who, at the time of a claim…… has not, either individually or jointly with any other person, previously purchased or previously built, directly or indirectly, on his or her own behalf a dwelling”.  Therefore, a person who has acquired property by way of an inheritance qualifies as a ‘first time purchaser’ under the rules of this scheme.

The HTB is not available for properties where the purchase value (as defined in the relevant legislation) is greater than €500,000.

How to Register

First of all, you need to register for the scheme by following this link to the Revenue Online System (ROS).  You will need your P60 and your driver’s license number to complete registration and time especially if you have not filed a Form 12 (for PAYE tax payers) or a Form 11 (for self-assessed individuals) for previous years. A Step-by-Step guide on applying and completing form 12s is available here and to self-assessment is here.

If you are tax compliant, your application will be approved and you will be provided with an application number/ an HTB number and a summary of the maximum amount you can claim. You will also be given an access code separately through MyEnquiries.  If not, you will not be eligible to apply for the Help to Buy Scheme.

Keep a safe note of both of these codes as you will need to provide them to your lender (in the case of a self-build) and your solicitor (where you are purchasing the property). Your contractor or solicitor will require this information to verify what you have submitted.

How to Make a Claim

After you have registered for the Help to Buy Scheme as set out above, in order to claim the refund you will need to upload the following on to the HTB section of the Revenue Online System (ROS):-

  1. Evidence of your mortgage (this could be the first two pages of your letter of offer);
  2. A copy of the signed contract between you and the vendor OR proof of drawdown of the first tranche of the mortgage if the property is a ‘self-build’;
  3. The contractor (in the case of a ‘new purchase’) or your solicitor (in the case of a ‘self-build’) will then be required to verify the details you submitted through the ROS system before the rebate issues.

Who Receives the Rebate?

In the case of retrospective applications (please see above) the rebate is paid directly to the claimant.

In the case of the first-time purchaser, the rebate is paid to the contractor and considered a reduction of the sale price on the completion of the sale. In the case of self-builds, the rebate will be paid to a bank account held with the particular qualifying lender.

Clawback

The property, when purchased must be occupied by the first time buyer or at least one of them in the case of multiple buyers for a period of five years from the date the property is habitable – otherwise, some or all of the rebate will have to be repaid.  The rebate is as follows:-

Leave or sell within 1 year 100% of rebate to be repaid
Ditto 2 years 80%
Ditto 3 years 60%
Ditto 4 years 40%
Ditto 5 years 20%

Summary

The Help to Buy Scheme incentive is an extremely attractive one for First Time Buyers of Residential Property and should be availed of where possible.  In view of the many actions required by both purchaser and solicitor and/or contractor prior to the issue of the rebate under the HTB, purchasers are advised to start the registration and claims process as early as possible to avoid delays when buying their new home.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, it has been provided for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Amorys Solicitors is a boutique commercial and private client law firm in Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland.
For further information and advice in relation to “Help to Buy Scheme for First Time Buyers”, please contact Deirdre Farrell, partner, Amorys Solicitors deirdre@amoryssolicitors.com, telephone 01 213 5940 or your usual contact at Amorys.

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