The Irish Mail on Sunday
Iwas mis-sold insurance in 2006. Can I take any action?
QI am a self-employed carpenter and bought a Payment Protection Insurance policy in 2006. I didn’t realise that self-employed people can’t make a claim on these policies. Am I too late to get a refund on this basis? Where do I go?
AThe bank that sold you the policy should have checked if was suitable for you. And it certainly wasn’t if you could never make a claim. But not all policies excluded the self-employed, so check the terms and conditions.
Your first step is to go to your bank. The Financial Ombudsman would usually be the next step but policies taken out more than six years ago are considered to be outside his remit. You should still be able to take a case through the courts, although this will involve legal fees.
There’s a useful guide to PPI refunds on the website moneyguideireland.com.
AWe are in negative equity and arrears on a mortgage for an apartment that is too small for our family. We’ve moved to a small house and are paying monthly rent there. We are thinking of letting out the apartment and putting the rent towards the mortgage and arrears. My wife and I are now working and not receiving any social welfare. How would this impact on our income tax?
QIf you have already moved into another home, it makes sense to rent out the empty apartment. However, it is not the most tax-efficient arrangement. Tax relief is not available on rent you pay, and the rent you receive will be taxed as income. However, you can deduct any relevant expenses incurred in renting out the apartment, plus 75% of the mortgage interest.
Another possible implication is that the apartment is no longer your principal residence. This means you could be liable for capital gains tax on any profits from selling it, although that’s the least of your worries at the moment.
Have you considered selling the apartment and applying for a ‘negative equity mortgage’ to buy a new home?
You would need to earn enough to cover the cost of a new loan incorporating the arrears, any negative equity plus the price of the new home.
If your income is not that high, you could seek help from the Family Income Supplement. The income limits for this can be quite generous depending on how many children in the family (see table).
QI have a post office Savings Certificate maturing in 2015. The interest accrued is tax free but is it subject to PRSI?
ANo. Savings Cert interest is free from all tax, levies and PRSI. An Post tells us its bill-pay service is also free and you can get foreign currencies exchange without paying commission too.
QI live in an apartment block that is heated by storage heaters. These are expensive to run and our electricity bills are sky high. Can we get a grant to reduce our electricity bill by installing solar panels and maybe improving insulation for the block as a whole?
AYou’d need your management company’s approval but it seems a good idea. I put your question to the Better Energy Homes scheme. A spokesman replied: ‘A group/ block of apartments can collectively install a large (solar panel) system, as long as it meets the combined performance requirements set out by the grant scheme. Either each apartment owner can apply separately or the management company applies with their permission to install solar panels to supply hot water to each of the units.’
Grants are also available for improving insulation. You’ll find all the details on seai.ie.