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Dublin Property Solicitors

Making sure your home is your home

Experts in Residential Conveyancing, Commercial Conveyancing (office and retail premises), Lettings, Planning Law, Property Disputes.

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We have works on hundreds of projects over the past 50 years and been involved in thousands of transactions. 

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Q What are Service charges?

Service charges are fees that property owners pay for services provided by their development's Owners’ Management Company (OMC). These include repairs, running costs such as block (building) insurance, electricity and lifts, and maintenance and other services such as waste collection or upkeep and landscaping of common areas.

Service charges are not an optional payment. They generate the cash flow that an OMC needs to provide services and maintain your development. The lease or contract you sign when you buy a property in a multi-unit development sets out your legal obligation to pay these charges. Your solicitor should also have explained this to you at the time you bought your property.

Depending on your development, your service charges may pay for:

  • Repair and maintenance of common areas, car park, footpaths, roads
  • Cleaning common areas, windows, carpets/mats, gutters and drains
  • Lift repairs and inspections
  • Electricity and lighting for common areas
  • Landscape and gardening, pest control
  • Security - internal locks and doors, intercoms, external doors and gates
  • Safety - smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, health and safety inspections
  • Refuse collection and recycling
  • Professional charges (For example block/building insurance, public liability insurance, the OMC’s legal/auditor fees)
  • The Multi-Unit Development Act 2011 sets out a list of cost categories to be used by OMCs when setting out service charges:
  • Insurance
  • General maintenance
  • Repairs
  • Waste management
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Concierge and security services
  • Legal services and accounts preparation
  • Other expected expenditure relating to maintenance, repair and management of the common areas

Services charges are usually sent out to owners once a year, following the OMC’s Annual General Meeting. It can be agreed between the owners and the OMC that service charges can be paid in instalments rather than in one lump sum.

Service charges should be set at a level to pay the running costs for your development. Factors that may affect these running costs include:

  • If common areas are designed to a very high standard
  • If they have elaborate features (e.g. ponds, fountains)
  • The number of lifts
  • Whether there are electronic gates
  • The size of the grounds and landscaped areas
  • Whether 24-hour concierge/security services are provided
  • The service charge should not include costs relating to the original design, construction and snagging of the development and the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011 specifically prohibits service charge income being used to complete the development.

 

Q:   Voting on service charges


The proposed service charge must be approved by vote at a general meeting of the members. The OMC should provide you with as much information as possible on how last year's budget was spent and how it has calculated the charge for the forthcoming year so that you can make a decision about the service charge proposal.

At the meeting, members can vote to approve, to amend or to reject the proposed charges. Where there is disagreement about any part of the service charge proposal, members can vote to amend the service charge proposal on the spot. To do this, 60% of those present and voting must agree this. Members can also block the proposal if 75% of those present and voting agree. In this case, the proposal must be reviewed and an alternative must be presented to the members at a later meeting.

If service charges are approved, a bill will be sent to the owner of each unit. The bill should also explain whether service charges must be paid in total, or whether you can pay in instalments. Some OMCs charge interest on money owed or late payments.

 

Q:    How service charges are calculated?


A budget for the running of the entire development is calculated by the Directors of the OMC. The managing agent may help the Directors to decide what the budget should be, but the responsibility for setting the charges and their collection lies with the OMC. This budget may change from year to year, so your own payment may vary. In general, charges should be based on normal wear and tear, inflation and new or additional services.

The percentage of the overall service charge that each owner must pay is calculated in various ways, such as the size of the unit, or the type of unit. This should be clear and transparent and information should be provided to all owners. If particular services are only provided to some owners, this should also be clearly explained.

In general, the developer sets out the initial calculation method for service charges and sinking fund contributions. The calculation method should be set out in the contract to buy your property. The initial charge is usually set out in your contract, but the service charge for the following years won't be known in advance and may change.

 

Q:    What happens if you don’t pay your service charges?

 

As a property owner, you would have signed a contract or lease when you bought your property which means you are legally obliged to pay your service charges. If you do not pay, the OMC can take legal action against you. Any outstanding debts you have to the OMC can be tied to your property – for example, if you sell your property, the OMC can get a court judgment for your debts to be deducted from the money you get once the sale has gone through.

If owners do not pay their charges, the OMC will also run short of money and in time it may not be able to provide even basic services such as paying block (buildings) insurance or maintaining the lifts. It is a requirement in almost all mortgage agreements that appropriate buildings insurance is in place. If your OMC cannot pay the building’s structural insurance premium, you may be in breach of your mortgage contract.

 

Q   What is a Sinking fund?

 


A sinking fund is a pot of money that is put aside every year to cover the cost of major long-term expenses. The Multi-Unit Development Act 2011 introduced a legal requirement for OMCs to establish and maintain a sinking fund. Developments that do not have a sinking fund must introduce one no later than 3 years after the transfer of the first property in the development or 18 months after the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011 was passed.

The Multi-Unit Development Act 2011 requires that the amount of 200 euro per unit must be paid into a sinking fund every year, however this amount can be higher or lower once the amount to be paid is agreed by a meeting of the members.

The sinking fund is for longer term expenses, such as lift or roof replacement or repair. The Multi-Unit Development Act 2011 states that a sinking fund is to be used for refurbishment, improvement or once-off maintenance, or advice from a qualified person in relation to these types of work. It is a legal requirement that money in the sinking fund must be held in a separate account from service charges and the authorisation of the Directors of the OMC is required to access the sinking fund.

You should not expect to see frequent use of your sinking fund, as it is designed to provide for longer term or emergency expenditure items only.

A similar voting approach should be adopted for the setting of sinking fund contributions.

Before you buy in a multi-unit development, ask the estate agent or your solicitor what sinking fund is in place or planned for the development. If you are buying in an older development, this is very important as it is more likely that the OMC will need to access the sinking fund than in a newer development.

As a general guide some of the most common uses of a sinking fund are repair, refurbishment or replacement of:

  • Building structure
  • Windows and walls
  • Roof and roof finishes
  • Internal partitions
  • Floor structure
  • Internal and external decoration
  • Plumbing and water services
  • Heating and ventilating
  • Lifts and escalators
  • Mechanical and electrical services and infrastructure.
  • Directors of an OMC should think about employing a chartered surveyor every three to five years to assess the short, medium and long-term maintenance issues that will be needed to keep the development in a state of good repair.

 

Q: How much are Irish Water charges?

A: They are broken down as follows:-

  • Water services charges are capped at a maximum yearly amount until the end of 2018.
  • The Government is making a water conservation grant of €100 per year available to all primary residences that register with Irish Water by 30 June 2015.
  • Billing will start from April and continue through May and June 2015 with bills normally being issued quarterly.
  • The children’s water allowance is 21m3 (21,000 litres) a year, per service per child (aged 17 years old and under). 

Q: What is the Water conservation grant?

 

A: The Government is making a water conservation grant of €100 per year available to all primary residences that register with Irish Water by 30 June 2015. The €100 grant will not be deducted from or appear on your Irish Water bill. The water conservation grant will be payable separately through the Department of Social Protection. The Department of Social Protection will be communicating separately with householders late August or September setting out the grant application and payment process for 2015. For the latest information on the water conservation grant please visit www.watergrant.ie 

Q:  I cannot access the LPT online system (to pay my LPT) using my PPS number which has a ‘W’ at the end of it. What should I do?

If you have a ‘W’ format Personal Public Service number (PPSN) and you cannot access your LPT record online using this number, you should contact the LPT helpline on 1890 200 255 to confirm whether the issue is caused by your ‘W’ format PPSN. If this is the case, you will be advised to request a new PPSN from the Client Identity Services in the Department of Social Protection (DSP). It should be noted that this issue will generally only arise in cases where the ‘W’ format PPSN was never previously used for tax purposes or where there has been a change in life circumstances such as separation or death of a spouse.

Historically, on marriage, a wife assumed her husband's tax reference number with the letter ‘W’ appended (for example, if a husband’s tax number was 1234567A, his wife would have been assigned 1234567AW on their marriage). This practice stopped in the 1990s. However, existing ‘W’ numbers in use at that time continue to be used until such time as there is a need to change them or if the person chooses to change it.

A new PPSN can be requested from the Client Identity Services (DSP):

Client Identity Services
Social Welfare Services Office
Shannon Lodge,
Carrick on Shannon,
Co. Leitrim.
Phone (071) 9672616 or Lo Call 1890 927999
Email: cis@welfare.ie
You will be required to provide the following information:

'W' PPSN.
Birth surname.
Mother's birth surname.
Date of birth.
Pre marriage PPSN, if known.
If you had a PPSN in your own right prior to marriage this number will be reactivated and will replace the ‘W’ format PPSN. If you only previously had a ‘W’ format PPSN, you will receive a new PPSN. When you receive your PPSN, you should present the DSP notification of the replacement PPSN to Revenue to allow the new PPSN to be registered for tax purposes.

Q:   Who is liable to pay LPT?


All owners of residential property, including rental properties, are liable to pay the tax. The following groups are also liable for LPT:

People who have a long-term lease (20 years or more)
People with a life interest or long-term right of residence (life or more than 20 years) in a residential property


Local authorities or social housing organisations


A person acting as a personal representative for a deceased owner (for example, as an executor/administrator of an estate). Trustees or beneficiaries are jointly liable where a residential property is held in trust.
Joint owners: If there is more than one owner they need to agree who will make the LPT return and pay the tax. If no one pays the tax Revenue can collect the Revenue Estimate of the LPT liability from any of the owners.

Rental properties: Where the residential property is rented on a normal short-term lease (less than 20 years), the landlord will be liable for LPT. Long-term leases (more than 20 years), life tenancies and situations where a person occupies a residential property on a rent-free basis over an extended period and without challenge to their right of occupation will be treated as if the occupant owns the property. In these circumstances, the occupant will be liable for LPT.

 

Liability date


You are a liable person for the Local Property Tax if you own a residential property on the liability (or ownership) date. The liability date is 1 May 2013 for the year 2013 and, for following years, 1 November in the preceding year. So for 2014 the liability date was 1 November 2013.

For 2015 the liability date is 1 November 2014.

Unoccupied and uninhabitable properties
If a residential property is suitable for use as a dwelling but is unoccupied, it is liable for LPT. However, if the property is not suitable for use as a dwelling, it is not liable for LPT and you do not need to make an LPT return. If you think that your property is not suitable for use as a dwelling and it is not being lived in, you must notify Revenue as soon as possible after receiving your LPT return. You must also include relevant supporting documentation, for example, an engineer’s report. Revenue will consider your claim and make a decision using the documentation you provide.

 

Exempt properties

 

If a property is a residential property on the liability date in any year (since 2013) it is a relevant residential property and is chargeable to LPT. Certain properties are exempt from LPT. You can find out more in our document on Exemptions from Local Property Tax.

Note that, even if you own an exempt property, you must still make a return to claim an exemption.

 

Valuing your property


The tax is based on the chargeable value of a residential property on the valuation date. The chargeable value is defined as the market value that the property could reasonably be expected to fetch in sale on the open market on the valuation date. The valuation date is 1 May 2013 for the 4-year period until 2016. This means that the valuation of your property for LPT purposes on 1 May 2013 will stay the same for 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 (even if you make improvements to your property).

A property adapted to make it suitable for occupation by a person with a disability (where the adaptation work resulted in an increase in the value of the property) can qualify for a reduction in the market value of the property for LPT purposes. There was a requirement for this work to have been grant-aided by a local authority but this no longer applies. You can read Revenue's Guidelines on Local Property Tax Relief for Disabled/Incapacitated Individuals (pdf).

Valuation was by self-assessment in 2013 and these self-assessed valuations will be used until the end of 2016.

Revenue developed an online guide providing indicative property values. This guide helps you to value your property by providing average indicative values for different property types in your local area. You can check the register of residential property sales, published by the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA), propertypriceregister.ie, when considering the value of your property.

If you follow Revenue’s guidance honestly, Revenue will accept your self-assessed property valuation. Revenue’s valuation guidance is intended to help property owners but each property owner must consider the specifics of their own property when working out its value. Revenue may query your valuation if it has reason to believe your property has been under-valued.

You do not have to include documentation when submitting your LPT Return. However you should keep copies of the information sources when valuing your property in case Revenue queries your valuation. These might include the property section of your local newspaper, information on the sales price of a similar house sold in the area, information downloaded from property websites or details taken from Revenue’s valuation guidance.

The Revenue Commissioners can legally enter a residential property for the purpose of ascertaining its chargeable value. You must permit a person authorised by the Revenue Commissioners to inspect the property if they consider this necessary.

If you did not submit a Local Property Tax return with your self-assessment of the LPT payable, the Revenue Estimate becomes due and payable. The Revenue Estimate is automatically displaced when you submit a return with your self-assessment of the amount of LPT due.

 

Selling your property


You are liable for LPT if you own a property on the liability date. The liability date for 2013 was 1 May 2013. The liability date for 2014 was 1 November 2013. The liability date for 2015 was 1 November 2014. The actual charge payable on the property is based on its value on the valuation date (1 May 2013 for the period until 2016) and this does not change.

For example, if you own a property on 1 November 2014 and subsequently sell it any time before 1 November 2015 you are liable to pay LPT for 2014. This payment should be made before the sale of the property closes.

In most cases a residential property that was exempt on 1 May 2013 continues to be exempt until the next valuation date (1 November 2016) even where the property is sold or ownership is transferred by way of gift or an inheritance. In these cases the exemption automatically carries over to the new owner of the property. There is one exception to this. Second-hand properties purchased between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2013 are exempt until the end of 2016 if used as your sole or main residence. However, where the property is subsequently sold or otherwise transferred to a new owner after 2013 this exemption no longer applies.

 

Amending your return


In most cases if you wish to amend your submitted return, you can do so online. However you must apply in writing if you wish to amend your valuation downwards. Any amendment must be supported by evidence to explain or prove the need to decrease the value. Appropriate evidence can be in the form of recent sales or advertised house prices in the area, professional valuations or house price surveys for the area. You can find out more in Revenue's Self-Correction Guidelines.

 

What happens if you don’t pay?


Each return sent out by Revenue includes a notice of the Revenue Estimate of the tax due. If you are a liable person and you do not submit a return, the Revenue Estimate will become payable by default and Revenue will collect the amount due. Revenue can use a range of collection options including:

  • Mandatory deduction from your salary, wages or occupational pension
  • Attachment of your bank account (this means taking money without your consent using an attachment order)
  • Referral of the debt to a sheriff or a solicitor for collection
  • The withholding of refunds of other tax as payment against LPT due
  • The Revenue Estimate will automatically be displaced when you submit a return with your self-assessment of the amount of LPT due.
  • Self-employed people: If you are self-employed and do not make your LPT Return with a self-assessment of your LPT liability, the amount set out in the Revenue Estimate will be collected using normal collection and enforcement options (for example, sheriff, court action or attachment orders). If you fail to pay your LPT, Revenue will not issue you with a tax clearance certificate. In addition, a self-employed person who fails to submit his or her LPT return on time may incur an LPT-generated surcharge when filing their income tax return, regardless of whether the income tax return is submitted on time.
  • If Revenue does not collect the amount of LPT due, for whatever reason, then a charge will be put on your property. You will not be able to sell it without paying the tax together with interest and, where appropriate, penalties.
  • You can get more information on Failure to meet LPT obligations from Revenue.

 

Appeals

 

In general, because LPT is a self-assessed tax, formal appeals only arise in a small number of situations.

If you do not agree with a Revenue Estimate you can displace it by submitting a return with your own self-assessment.

Since Revenue has compiled a register of residential properties from various sources there may be errors about ownership of some properties. If you got a LPT Return form and you do not consider yourself a liable person for that property you should notify Revenue in writing within 30 days of receiving the letter. You should include an explanation of why you do not consider yourself a liable person, the details of the person you think is the liable person (name, address and PPS Number) and supporting documentation. It is very important that you contact Revenue since if the error is not corrected you are liable to pay the tax. Revenue will use the information you supply to make a determination on whether you are a liable person. If you do not agree you can appeal this determination to the Appeal Commissioners.

If you disagree with Revenue on other matters (for example, whether the property is residential, the valuation or whether you can defer payment) and the matter cannot be resolved, Revenue will issue a formal Notice of Assessment or a formal decision on the matter to you. Your right to appeal to the Appeal Commissioners will be set out clearly on the notices. However you must make a return and pay any tax due before you can appeal the Notice of assessment or any other Revenue decision.

 

What is the Non Principal Private Residence (NPPR) charge?

 

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 introduced an annual €200 charge on non principal private residences, payable by the owner of the NPPR to the Local Authority in whose area the property concerned is located. This charge was announced by Minister Lenihan in Budget 2009.

Important Note: The last year for which the NPPR applies is 2013. Non principal private residences are subject to both the NPPR charge and the Local Property Tax in 2013. From 2014 onwards, they are subject to the Local Property Tax only.

What types of properties are liable for the NPPR charge?

Subject to certain exclusions (see below) the NPPR charge applies to every residential property owned by a person which is not the principal or main residence of the owner. This includes any house, maisonette, flat, apartment or bedsit.



What types of properties are exempted from the NPPR charge?

 

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 applies the charge to the owners of all residential property but goes on to exclude certain property or buildings from the definition of "residential property" and it also provides certain exemptions from the concept of ownership.
The main exemption from the charge is for a property which is the sole or main residence of the person who owns it, commonly referred to as a principal private residence (PPR).
While the exemption for a PPR covers one property only, a further limited exemption may apply where a person is moving house and temporarily owns two properties. This exemption covers a second residential property acquired within one year of the liability date where the first property is sold no less than six months after the liability date. For an explanation of "liability date", see heading entitled "When is the charge payable?".

 

Additional exemptions include:


A mobile home, caravan or vehicle;
a newly constructed residential building that is unsold and has not yet been used as a dwelling, provided it forms part of the trading stock of a business;
a residential property owned by an approved charity;
a residential property occupied under a shared ownership arrangement with a housing authority or a building let by a housing authority, voluntary housing body or the HSE;
a residential property held in a discretionary trust which is an approved charity;
a residential property occupied rent free by a relative of the owner of the property provided the said residential property is located no more than 2 km from the PPR of the owner. This would include a Granny flat and other similar residences;
a residential premises owned by a person who lives elsewhere by reason of physical or mental incapacity;
a building liable to commercial rates;
where a decree of divorce or judicial separation has been granted and a spouse owns the PPR of the other spouse, then he/she will not be liable to the charge in respect of that property.
The Act should be consulted about these exemptions. The Act is available - Local Government Charges Act 2009


How much is the charge?

 

The charge is currently set at an annual rate of €200 in 2009 per chargeable residence. The Act provides that the Minister may increase this charge from time to time, having regard to changes in the consumer price index.
It is important to note however that penalties apply for late payment of the charge (see below).

 

How do I pay the charge?

 

You can pay the charge electronically at the website http://www.nppr.ie/. To pay your NPPR charge online you will need your PPS number, the address of your NPPR property or properties and your debit card or credit card details.
Local Authorities (City or County Councils) will accept completed NPPR registration forms. The payment types accepted with a registration form are credit card, debit card, bank draft, postal order and cheque.


When is the charge payable?

 

Liability to pay the charge is determined on the basis of ownership of the property in question on a single day each year. This date is called the "liability date". For 2009, the liability date is 31st July and an owner of a qualifying residential property must pay the charge by 30 September 2009. For the year 2010 and subsequent years the liability date has been set as 31 March and the NPPR charge must be paid by 31 May each year.

 

What late payment penalties apply?

 

The Act provides for a grace period of one month for late payment. Therefore, if a charge is not paid within a month after the last date for payment, a late payment fee will apply for every month or part of a month that the €200 charge remains unpaid. For 2009, this means that the late payment fee will apply to all payments made after 31 October 2009. For 2010 and subsequent years, the late payment fee will apply to all payments made after 30 June. The late payment fee for each property amounts to €20 per month or part of a month.
A person who does not pay the charge will be guilty of an offence and leaves themselves open to prosecution by the Local Authority to whom the payment is due.


Selling the property

 

An unpaid charge and unpaid late payment penalties will be a charge on the residential property in question. This is likely to lead to difficulties in selling the residential property as the person buying it would become liable for any charges and fees outstanding in respect of the property concerned. In the event of a sale, the prospective purchaser will require a receipt or certificate from the local authority as proof that the charge has been paid.
What documentation and information must I provide?

The owner of a qualifying property must make a declaration to the relevant local authority that the property is liable to the charge. This declaration must be accompanied with payment of the charge. The declaration can be made through the web-site or in writing on the approved form 


In summary, you must provide the following information:

  • Name of the owner of the property;
  • Address of the property;
  • Address for correspondence of the owner of the property;
  • Personal Public Service Number of the owner of the property in the case of a private ownership;
  • Tax reference of the owner where the owner is a company.

 

Is the NPPR Charge tax deductible against my rental income?

 

A person in receipt of rental income is assessed to income tax on the net amount of the rents received, i.e. the gross rents less allowable expenses incurred in earning those rents. Only those expenses that are specified in the Tax Acts are allowable. The main deductible expenses are:
Any rent payable by the landlord in the case of a sub-lease;
The cost to the landlord of any goods provided or services rendered to a tenant;
The cost of maintenance, repairs, insurance and management of the property;
Interest on borrowed money used to purchase, improve or repair the property;

Payment of local authority rates.

 

Revenue and the Department of Finance have indicated that the payment of the NPPR charge for residential properties is not an allowable expense in computing taxable rental income as it is not included on the list of allowable items.

In the lead-up to the payment deadline, the Irish Taxation Institute directed a number of questions on the operation of the NPPR charge to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG). Those questions, together with the responses received, are provided below.

 

Can you please confirm if and how the NPPR charge is to apply to overseas owners?

 

Yes, the charge does apply to overseas owners. The online payment mechanism on the NPPR webpage (available here) will accept a payment without a PPS number if the non-resident checkbox is ticked.

 

How does the NPPR charge apply to a large property divided into different flats, bedsits or apartments?

 

Where a property is divided into different flats, bedsits or apartments a charge applies to each flat, bedsit or apartment.

 

Can you please advise whether the NPPR charge can arise in circumstances where a commercial premises and residential premises are in the same building - for example, an apartment above a shop?

 

In the case of an apartment over a shop, it is the normal practice of the Valuation Office to rate just the commercial premises and ignore the residential part of the building. In such cases, the residential part of the building becomes liable for the charge.

 

Is rent-controlled accommodation exempt from the NPPR charge?

 

There is no exemption for landlords of rent-controlled accommodation.
If a landlord receives rent from the property then, under the provisions of the Act, the landlord is an "owner" and therefore liable even if the rent received is a reduced or nominal amount.

 

Can you please confirm that estate agents who collect rent on behalf of a landlord but have no interest in the property cannot be liable to the NPPR charge?

 

If an estate agent or management company receives the rent of the property on behalf of the owner, then they may be liable for the charge in their capacity as agent for the owner.
In this situation, if the estate agent or management company wants to ensure that they have discharged their obligations under the Act, they may want to consider paying the charge and advising their client that they are taking the amount out of the rent they are passing to the client.

In circumstances where there are co-owners of a property, it is clear that if one co-owner pays the charge it absolves the other co-owners from doing so; however, the payment by one co-owner would not appear to absolve the others from the necessity to file a declaration? Under Section 5 of the Act, "owners" must submit a declaration of liability.


The DEHLG recognises the technical issue; however, as a matter of practicality there should never be an issue of a local authority pursuing the prosecution of a person for the non-declaration of a liability in such a case. In practice, where a liable residential property is co-owned, local authorities accept the personal details of just one of the co-owners on the registration form.

As the NPPR charge is payable to the local authority, it is to all extents and purposes a rate and therefore it should be a deductible expense (Section 97 of TCA 1997 provides that local authority rates are a deductible expense). Could you confirm the Department's position on this?
The question of whether payment of the €200 charge is an allowable expense in computing taxable rental income is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. The advice that DEHLG has received from Revenue is that the €200 charge is not an allowable expense for this purpose on the basis that it is not an expense under Section 97(2) TCA 1997.

 

The definition of "owner" is unclear in certain circumstances. This is best clarified by way of example as follows:

Many holiday cottages or properties can have numerous owners. Generally such properties are initially sold by way of grant of a long lease that retains a right to a nominal peppercorn rent. The original vendor in such circumstances may therefore be in receipt of rent (albeit nominal) and has a residual interest in the property, and therefore could be considered an owner within the meaning of the Act. The purchaser under the long lease often then grants a further lease to an operational company that can be of anything up to 20 years. This individual clearly has ownership rights and is also in receipt of rent under the operational lease. The operational company in turn has ownership rights and normally would seek to let the units on short-term leases. These operational companies are also in receipt of rent and could also be deemed an owner.


Therefore in the above example there are three potential owners, all with different interests in the property. Could you please clarify how the definition of owner should be applied in such circumstances, as clearly an original owner in the above example would want assurance that he or she could not be held secondarily liable should other owners fail to pay the charge?

In such circumstances, each "owner" as defined in the Act, i.e. receiving or liable to receive the rent of a property, is jointly and severally liable. However, where an owner is considered akin to a freehold owner who is entitled to ground rent, then he or she may not be liable. In a situation where a purchaser grants a lease to an operational company, both parties would appear to be jointly and severally liable. However, the charge would not apply to properties in respect of which commercial rates are paid.


Is a company considered a person for the purposes of the definition of "owner" under Section 1 of the Act and for the purposes of Section 3(1) of the Act?

 

Yes, a person is understood to include a company in the Act.