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LPT – What the changes mean?

June 4, 2021 #

On 1 June 2021, the Cabinet agreed to bring forward legislation that will propose changes to how Local Property Tax (LPT) currently operates. LPT is a self-assessed tax charged on the market value of residential properties in the State. There were some exemptions to the system including first time buyers who purchased in 2013 along with all new builds since 2013. LPT is payable by the owner of the property – regardless of whether you live in the property, or it is rented out.

However, since 2013 there has been a rise in the value of property and many people now face an increase in their LPT. The bands have been widened to ensure that most homeowners do not face higher bills. The national average house price in 2013 was €189,000, rising to €284,000 this year. Over the same time, average prices soared in Dublin from €249,500 to €360,000.

Your property will need to be revalued in November 2021, but this can be done by yourself by doing a search on the Property Price Register and also on the main property portals daft.ie and myhome.ie. Failing that we recommend contacting your local estate agent to get an indication of value. The changes to the bill mean that your property value will be reviewed every 2 years.

The LPT is payable to your local authority and local authorities have the ability to vary their rates so check out your local authority’s rates: Has your Local Authority Rate changed? (revenue.ie). Local authorities are entitled to reduce the rate by a maximum of 15%.

The new bands are set out below:

Houses vacated by their owners due to illness are currently not liable to LPT, on the condition the property remains vacant. In future, the condition of vacancy will not apply, meaning that the home could be rented out and the LPT would still not apply.

See The Journal.ie’s article for a more in-depth analysis: Explainer: What will the changes to the Local Property Tax mean for your yearly bill? (thejournal.ie)

What is RPZ?

October 28, 2022 #

If you have, or are thinking of letting out a property, you most likely would have heard of the term ‘Rent Pressure Zone’ (RPZ). The ‘Rent Pressure Zone’ was introduced in 2016, and then reviewed with the enactment of the Residential Act 2021. 

‘Rent Pressure Zones’ are particular areas across Ireland where rents are not permitted to surpass general inflation. This is measured by the Harmonised Index of Consumer Price  (HICP).  Following this rule, rents cannot rise above 2% each year in ‘Rent Pressure Zones’.

The RTB provides a Rent Pressure Zone Calculator which is a useful tool to determine what rents can be set in RPZ’s. 

Rent Pressure Zones means more protection for tenants and impacts the way landlords set and review rents. There is some additional paperwork and documentation that needs to be carried out in order to meet guidelines. This is why it may be beneficial for landlords to instruct an agent to manage their property. 

There is certain information, when setting a rent for a property, that a landlord needs to provide the new tenant with: 

  • The date when the last rent was set
  • The amount at which the rent was when it was last set
  • A statement using the Rent Pressure Zone Calculator. There is an option to print this off on the RTB’s website. 
  • Three examples of comparables (similar properties) 

It is important to note that all of the above information must be provided to the new tenant, in writing. 

In the case of rent reviews, properties within Rent Pressure Zones can only be reviewed every 12 months and by no more than 2%. Landlord’s must give the tenant 90 days’ notice in writing (a text or email will not be sufficient). 

There are exemptions to the regulations to these guidelines, certain properties would not be subject to the maximum 2% rent increase:

  • Properties that have never been rented before. 
  • Properties that have not been rented for 2 years (before the commencement date of the new tenancy. 
  • Substantial changes have been made to the property: 
  1. Permanent extension, which increases the floor area by 25%

Or 

  1. The BER being improved by no less than 7 ratings

Or, any 3 or more of:

  • The internal layout of the dwelling being permanently changed
  • The dwelling being altered in order to provide access and use for a person with a disability, following the regulations of the Disability Act 2005
  • An increase of rooms within a dwelling which is permanent 
  • In the case of a dwelling having a BER rating D1 or lower, being improved by no less than 3 BER energy ratings
  • For dwellings with a BER energy rating of C3 or higher, the BER being improved by no less than 2 ratings

Contact any of our lettings and management team on 01-4967954 or by email at info@hopkinsward.ie for further information.

How to maximize your property’s potential for sale

October 3, 2022 #

When preparing your house for sale there are a number of steps you can do, in order to
ensure your property has reached its full potential for the residential market. Some of these
suggestions are free, others may require a small budget. Even if you manage to do a couple
of the suggested improvements, it will definitely make a huge difference!

Curb Appeal
First impressions are everything!
Your front door/ entrance should be inviting – this can be as simple as a lick of paint and a
lovely doormat.
The lawn, if applicable should be well presented.
Windows should be clean.

Small improvements make a big difference
Make sure everything is tidy and clean.
Lighting – all bulbs should be working.
Additional lighting such as floor lamps or bedside lamps can be a great way to add warmth
to the property, especially in the winter months.
Create focal points – if you have a beautiful fireplace or window, ensure that it is visible. We
would suggest drawing people’s attention towards these fixtures.
Planning your space well can be very effective. Simply by moving a table or a bed to a
different position can create space and add to the overall feel of the rooms.

De-personalise your space
Having a neutral space is always better. The purchaser will want to imagine themselves
living in the home and with lots of clutter, they may find that difficult!

Smell
Have your property smelling fresh. People tend to remember how places smell so we would
recommend removing any rubbish and ventilating the property on the morning of the
viewings.

Why Live in Dublin 8?

May 4, 2022 #

A lot of new trendy coffee shops, pubs and eateries have opened up around the Dublin 8 area (one of our favourites is Noshington!) catering for the new wave of buyers migrating from Rathmines, Ranelagh, Harolds Cross and Terenure.

There are numerous colleges within this postcode making it a young demographic for city slickers. The neighborhood statistics show that 36% of households in Dublin 8 comprise of one person, 23% are house shares and 18% couples. The average age group is 16 – 35 years old*. *CSO Statistics

If you’re thinking of moving to the area there are some great amenities and attractions nearby. The most famous sites in Dublin 8 are the Guinness Brewery and Gravity Bar at St. James’s Gate, Christchurch Cathedral, Kilmainham Gaol, the Grand Canal, Royal Hospital Kilmainham and Vicar Street, which is host to many comedy acts and gigs.

We are currently in a very buoyant market with 4 out of every 5 homes coming on the market with us selling within 4 weeks. We believe we are set to enjoy a good market for the short to medium term and there is plenty of property for investors to choose from.

If you are in the market to sell or rent  your property, please get in touch. We love this area as much as your next purchaser and tenant does and this makes all the difference.

info@hopkinsward.ie www.hopkinsward.ie

01 4967954

Is Dublin 8 ready for high rise?

January 29, 2021 #

The former Player Wills factory has long been a contentious site in Dublin 8. Built to designs by Beckett & Harrington for W.D. and H.O. Wills in 1935, this building remained in use as a tobacco factory until 2005. Its form, scale and design make it an imposing presence on South Circular Road, and its’ obviously industrial function creates a striking contrast to the predominantly domestic architecture of the street. In recent years, the site has been used as a set for TV shows.

Recently the property was purchased by US property group Hines along with the Bailey Gibson packaging site. Hines was last September granted permission by the board for 416 homes, which included a 16-storey apartment block, on the site of the former Bailey Gibson packaging plant, which adjoins the Player Wills site.

In recent days, the site and the developers have hit the headlines with a 19-storey building among its new plan submitted to An Bord Pleanala. The plans submitted include a scheme of 732 apartments, one third of which would be co-living units. This has caused consternation among the local Dublin 8 residents, who have an issue with overlooking and blocking light in the area. The area is predominantly low-rise with 2 storey red-brick dwellings lining the South Circular Road and surrounding roads.

This site sits directly opposite our office so we will be keeping a keen eye on any developments in this story. We’ll bring you all the latest when we have it.

While there is a need for high rise buildings within the city, it remains to be seen if this site will be among them. Further information can be found on the Irish Times story released on Thursday:

‘Horrendously out of proportion’: Residents set against 19-storey apartments (irishtimes.com)

Level 5 COVID-19 Restrictions January 2021

January 10, 2021 #

This new year brings an unwelcome, but necessary, return to the Level 5 restrictions by the government in order to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases that have risen post-Christmas. Thankfully, the Property Services Regulatory Authority this week confirmed that Property Services are still recognised as an essential service.


What does this mean?

Property Services must only be provided in accordance with the provisions as set out at Level 5 of the Property Services Providers Guidance to Implementing Plan for Living with Covid 19. This means that our office will be closed to the public for the foreseeable future and our team will work from home where possible. Viewings must take place on-line where possible. All of our sales properties come with a 3D interactive floorplan and we can provide videos for all of our available rental properties.  However, physical viewings can be arranged under certain conditions and we will strictly adhere to them. We would ask all our viewers to adhere to the conditions in the interest of the safety of our team, our clients and other viewers. These conditions are as follows for our sales properties:

Viewings by the public permitted of properties by appointment only where:

· Confirmation provided of (a) proof of funds (b) property previously viewed online.

· Time restricted appointments with sufficient time allowed between appointments to avoid any potential cross over of viewers.

· Viewings by one party of two people from the same household is only permitted.

If you are thinking of selling or letting, we can still carry out inspections of your property (either virtually or in person) in order to give you a detailed opinion of value.

For more detailed information, please visit www.psr.ie.

Our Lettings division will continue to view properties online to potential tenants and can facilitate physical viewings when an agreement is in place between the landlord and tenant.

Our Maintenance division will continue to service all our clients’ maintenance issues as per normal, while adhering to the safety advice from NEPHT.

We are delighted to be able to continue working at this time and want to let all our clients and potential viewers know that we are taking every precaution to ensure everybody’s safety.

Stay safe.

A Day in the Life of an Estate Agent – Week 1

June 12, 2020 #

Friday feelings….

Ever thought what an estate agent actually does?!? Each week we’ll bring you a quick overview of what has happened during the week and any thoughts we have on the market.

Dear Diary,

This week saw the welcome return to the office for us. Although we have opened on a skeleton basis, we have found the number of enquiries received from prospective purchasers has been hugely encouraging for the remainder of this year. We have accepted offers on a number of properties since Re-opening on Monday and are looking forward to bringing a number of new properties to the market shortly. I also met some lovely people this week who are thinking of selling their properties in the near future and hopefully they choose us to assist them with this.

The way we sell and market properties has changed dramatically over the past 3 months and we are very excited about the future. This week we have been arranging and carrying out professional photographs, 3D interactive floor plans and short videos for all of our sales properties. Keep an eye on all our social media platforms for these over the next short while. I’ll talk about the sales process in another post but changes we were looking to bring to our business have been accelerated and we look forward to bringing a more digital approach to our clients. The aim is to make it more transparent and convenient for both buyers and sellers. I have spent all morning playing with one of our 3D floor plans and it’s great fun! It will definitely help any potential viewers decide whether a property is worthwhile inspecting. For the buyer imagine no more Saturday’s going from house to house and getting increasingly frustrated as you are trying to find the property that suits you!

Conversely, we have put 9 properties to the rental market this week and we have found that the level of enquiries is considerably lower than we would have expected. There are a number of reasons for this but the increased supply from the short-term market to the long-term market along with affordability from tenants is resulting in less enquiries and potentially an adjustment in prices over the coming weeks. Time will tell.

This morning we did a walk-through of one of my favourite houses we are selling with the purchasers’ and their architect. The house sits in the shadow of the Sugarloaf on 0.6acre and is a really special property (in my mind!). It’s exciting listening to the purchaser’s discuss their vision with an equally enthusiastic architect. I feel like I’m inside an episode of “Room to Improve” with Dermot Bannon ?. I love how varied our job is on a daily basis.

Tomorrow we will be doing our first video viewing with 2 couples on a family home. Both parties have responded with enthusiasm at the thought of having a private consultation with us from the comfort of their own couch – especially when the weather forecast is taken into account. I’ll be sure to get dressed fully unlike Luke “Ming” Flanagan!! Looking forward to bringing the feedback to the vendors following the weekend.

After that it’s a busy weekend with a virtual 5k run for the Castleknock 5k or #RorysRun in memory of our good friend who’s sadly no longer with us. It’s always a great weekend to meet up with old friends but it will be slightly different this year. Whatever you’re doing, enjoy the weekend!

How Government Reactions to COVID 19 have affected the Dublin Landlord and Tenant

June 4, 2020 #

This Covid world that we all find ourselves living through is  much changed, uncertain and a challenging time for all walks of life. None more so than residential tenancies, from both a landlord and tenants point of view. At the time of writing, Hopkins Ward have generally had a very positive response from both tenants in paying rent and landlords engaging with those tenancies who have been financially effected  from a loss of employment and/or income.

Affected tenants have found themselves in two categories:

  1. An immediate ending of the tenancy as, due to financial and personal circumstances, the tenancy is not viable going forward. This is a very tough decision for any tenant as they must give up the right to their home.  As a company, in conjunction with the individual landlords, we are allowing shorter notice periods, a full written reference if requested and with all other tenancy obligations met, a full deposit to be returned.
  2. A wish to remain in situ with an agreed temporary deferment of rent payments. This scenario is the most beneficial to both parties, as tenants get to remain in their home and landlords get to keep good tenants and are not left with a vacant property.

From our entire management portfolio we have had c. 11% of all tenancies fall into the above categories. We are of the opinion that this is quite a low % considering the difficult times that the tenants are facing. The immediate response of the government in paying a €350 Covid 19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, has certainly contributed in somewhat easing tenants financial worries and enabling them to pay all/part of their rental obligations. We would have a slight concern going forward, as to when this unemployment payment ends and tenants are not immediately back to their place of work in the same financial capacity as before.

What has been the response from Government?

With effect from the 27th March 2020, the government introduced the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020. This was a quick and decisive decision in protecting the rights of tenancies. It has brought about an initial set of emergency laws for a 3 month period, 27th March 2020 – 27th June 2020. By government order this notice period can be extended, and we would be of the opinion that it will be.

  1. Notice of termination cannot be served during the emergency period, only under extreme circumstances. Extreme circumstances would be a serious breach of tenants obligations i.e anti social behaviour or malicious damage to the property, to name but two.
  2. Any notice of termination that was legally served prior to the 27th March 2020, is frozen for the length of the emergency measures. For example : Tenant A has been renting from Landlord B  for 7 years. On the 1st of January 2020 Landlord B decides to sell his/her property or to take the property back for his/her own family use. Due to the length of tenancy, a valid notice of 196 days is issued on the 1st January 2020. This tenancy would normally end on the 15th July 2020. With the introduction of emergency legislation, the notice period is paused from the 27th March 2020 for the duration of the emergency period (currently 3 months). If the government does not extend the emergency period, this tenancy will now end on the 15th October 2020.
  3. A rent review which fell due on the 1st April 2020, for an existing tenancy, cannot be issued during the emergency period.
  4. If a new tenancy commences on the 1st April 2020, the increased rent allowed under RPZ cannot be enforced until after the emergency period. For example Tenant A moves into Property A on the 1st April 2019 at a rent of €1000. Tenant A naturally ends their tenancy on the 1st April 2020 and Tenant B is set to commence his/her tenancy from this date. Under normal circumstances the new rental amount would be €1040 under the 4% RPZ calculator. The Covid measures dictate that the rent due will be €1000 during the emergency period and will only increase to €1040 once the measures have been lifted.
  5. An existing tenancy was renewed on the 1st January 2020. A valid 90 day rent review was issued on this day under RPZ calculations and the rent was set to increase from the 1st April 2020. This reviewed rent amount will only kick in after the emergency measures have been lifted. For example Tenant A commences a tenancy on the 1st January 2019 at a rental figure of €1000 per month. Tenant A renews their tenancy on the 1st January 2020 for a further 12 months. A valid rent review is issued on the 1st January 2020, increasing rent to €1050 from the 1st April 2020. Under emergency measures the original rent of €1000 per month will continue to be the rent due until the ending of the emergency period.

Dublin Rental Market Post Covid?

To answer this question with any degree of certainty is near impossible at this time. There remain too many unknowns including the longevity of the disease, the world economy effecting our island economy, long term affordability of tenants and whether Dublin will continue to remain a desirable location for the continued expansion of both existing and new start ups companies both homegrown and international.

I would tentatively suggest that the fundamentals remain strong within the Dublin rental market. Landlords may have to adjust to longer down times between tenancies and not an automatic rent increase year on year. I have been directly involved in Letting and Management in the Dublin residential market since 2003 and can recall a time when it was expected to have anything from a 2 week to a month gap between tenancies. Pre covid 2020, if the gap was any longer than a number of days it was an exception.

Remain safe, stay at home and a post covid world will be sooner than we think.

COVID19 Protocols for Estate Agents

May 28, 2020 #

The Property Regulator and leading representative organisations have published a ‘Joint Sector Protocol for Property Services Providers’ safety document, the aim of which is to facilitate the safe reopening of the property market in Phase 2 (8th June).

The comprehensive new safety Protocol document was jointly developed by the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV), the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI), and the Property Services Regulatory Authority, (PSRA) and was shared with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

The Protocol is applicable to Valuers and all PSP’s for the auction, sales, lettings, valuations and property management environment and for both residential and commercial property.

While the property market is currently open for business online and remotely, the three organisations said the sector is now looking forward to a full reopening in Phase 2 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business – in line with the Government’s health advice.

The key objective of this new Protocol is to facilitate the safe reopening of the property market. The three bodies believe this document will provide reassurance to consumers and clients of property services providers and valuers that the sector can reopen on the 8th June for safe business.

Under the Protocols, the following actions are required amongst others:

  • All viewings and auctions should be undertaken online, where possible.
  • Where viewings take place detailed Covid-19 signage must be displayed and hand sanitation facilities must be widely available. HSE Guidelines must be adhered to at all times.
  • Viewings should be pre-booked and thorough cleaning procedures must take place with record sheets of the cleaning prominently displayed.
  • A maximum of two people per viewing party and no under 16s.
  • All brochures and property details should be sent by email.
  • Removal of doors to small rooms such as utility and storage spaces or alternatively removal and capping of internal door handles to minimise contact points.
  • Auctioneers must announce HSE guidelines before commencement of auctions.
  • In arranging viewings of second-hand dwellings and commercial buildings professionals must confirm whether respective clients and viewers have returned from travel abroad or have had symptoms of Covid-19 over the previous 14 days. If so, the property service cannot be provided for a minimum of 14 days.
  • Property agencies must provide safety training for all employees.

These strict guidelines will be adhered to by all of our staff at Hopkins Ward Estate Agents and all viewers will be requested to adhere to the same guidelines. We will be conducting virtual viewings at set times any by appointment. All physical viewing must be by appointment only. All our documents will be sent by email and electronic signatures will be used in all cases by all parties where required.

The document is available by request. Please contact me at ian@hopkinsward.ie for a copy of the document free of charge.

Dublin Rental Market – How has COVID-19 affected the rental market?

May 18, 2020 #

How has the Dublin rental market been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

The whole world has been affected by COVID-19 and Dublin’s rental market is no different. Daft’s recent report on the rental market shows us that rents have fallen in April by 2.5%. Although, the evidence suggests that rental prices had begun to slow down and decrease ever so slightly prior to the COVID-19 pandemic taking grip. Daft’s previous report in January (based on Q4 2019) showed the first quarter in 29 consecutive quarters where rents did not rise.

There are a number of factors that have resulted in the decrease in rental levels:

  1. Affordability. With rents at such a high level, affordability was always looming as an issue. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in salary cuts, hours reduced and unfortunately job losses. The real effect of the pandemic on unemployment levels won’t be known for a number of months (most likely 12 months) as business re-open and in some cases fail to reopen. With salary cuts and reduced hours, this has significantly impacted tenants ability to pay.
  2. Shutdown of the short-term rental market. This was particularly noticeable in city centre areas as within a couple of days of the government restrictions being put in place, Dublin 8 saw a surge of c 500 1 and 2 bed properties available for rent on the long-term market (according to figures from Daft.ie). It was obvious from the advertisement photographs that these were AirBnB properties (the folded towels on the beds are usually a giveaway!). The influx of similar properties to the market at the same time has resulted in a reduction in rental levels. For example, last year we let a 1 bedroom apartment in Christchurch for €1900pm while we have a property in the same development on the market at the moment for €1650pm).
  3. Lack of transactions. While government restrictions have been in place, there has been limited transactions in the rental market. While there have been some as both agents and landlords have introduced video or virtual viewings into their repertoire, tenants are unwilling to move given the uncertainty in the market.

Only time will tell for the long term effect of COVID-19 on the rental market but I believe there is still a supply issue but hopefully with more properties switching from short-term lets to the long-term letting market this will help improve the situation for tenants and will result in a more sustainable rental market. There are still a large number of factors that are causing a shortage of supply but I won’t deal with them today!

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