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Know Your Rights: Buying goods online

Question

I have ordered a few presents from a Belgian website. Can I return them if I change my mind when I get them?

Answer (November 2017)

Online purchases from businesses based in the EU are covered by the EU Directive on Consumer Rights. Under this Directive you are entitled to a cooling-off period of 14 days. During the cooling-off period, you can cancel distance contracts such as online purchases without giving a reason and without incurring charges or penalties, other than possible charges incurred in returning the goods. The 14-day cooling-off period begins on the day that you receive the goods.

Upon cancellation, the distance seller is obliged to repay you within 14 days, including delivery costs. If you chose a more expensive type of delivery than the seller’s cheapest standard delivery, you are only entitled to be refunded the cost of the cheaper delivery type.

The seller can withhold the repayment until the goods are returned or until you supply evidence that you have sent the goods back.

You must send the goods back within 14 days of informing the seller of the cancellation. You may have to pay for the cost of returning them. The seller must inform you of such costs before you complete the purchase.

The seller should also have provided you with confirmation of the contract, as well as information on aftersales and guarantees, how to cancel the contract and a postal address for complaints. If the seller did not provide you with information on your right to cancel, the cooling-off period can be extended by 12 months.

Some purchases are not covered by the cooling-off period. These include customised or perishable goods and bookings for transport or accommodation.

Midlands flooding: humanitarian assistance

Following recent flooding events in Laois and Offaly, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has made the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme available.

This Scheme is for people whose homes have been damaged and who need financial assistance with essential needs and household items. In some cases, the Scheme can cover structural repair.

Read more about the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme.

New guidelines for landlords and tenants

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has published new guidelines for landlords and tenants.

These detailed guidelines explain what counts as “substantial change” to a rented property to allow a landlord to exceed the cap on rent increases in a Rent Pressure Zone. This cap (4% per year) can only be exceeded if significant changes have been made to the property.

The guidelines also cover what counts as “substantial refurbishment” for the purposes of ending a Part 4 tenancy. A tenancy can only be ended on this ground if the proposed works are substantial and require the property to be vacated.

The RTB has also announced a new one-stop shop website with a webchat facility and an extension of its opening hours.

Read more on rtb.ie

Deadline for Register of Electors: 25 November

To vote in an Irish election or referendum, you must be on the Register of Electors. The Draft Register of Electors for 2018-2019 is now available. You can check it at local authority offices, Garda stations, libraries, post offices, or online at checktheregister.ie, until 25 November 2017. The new Register will come into effect on 15 February 2018.

If you will be aged 18 or over on 15 February 2018, you should check that your name and address are present and correct on the Draft Register. If there is any mistake, tell your local authority before 25 November 2017.

If you are not on the Register and you wish to be included on it, you must fill in form RFA (pdf). If you need to correct or change your entry, you must fill in form RFA1 (pdf).  If you are on the Register but your address has changed, you use form RFA3 (pdf). This will also remove you from the Register for your previous address.

Read more about registering to vote.

Refunds of domestic water charges

The Water Services Act 2017 was signed into law on Friday, 17 November 2017. It provides for the refund of payments made for domestic water charges. Refunds will begin to be issued from today, 20 November 2017.

The amount you paid to Irish Water in domestic billing charges will be refunded to you. To find out how much you are due to be refunded and when you can expect to get your refund, login to your account on water.ie.

Customers who have moved house should contact Irish Water at 1850 448 448 or +353 1 707 2824 to update their details, so that the refund cheque will go to their new address. These lines are open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5:30 pm.

Read more about water charge refunds on water.ie.

Know Your Rights: Replacing lead pipes // Piopáin nua a chur in ionad Píopáin luaidhe

Question

Can we get a grant to replace lead water pipes in our house?

Answer (September 2017)

The local authorities administer a means-tested grant scheme to help low-income households with the cost of replacing lead pipes and fittings.

If your income is below €50,000 a year, you may get a grant of up to 80% of the cost, up to a maximum of €4,000. If your income is between €50,001 and €75,000, you may get up to 50%, up to a maximum of €2,500. You will need to provide evidence of your household’s income when applying to the local authority for the grant.

You must own the premises and live in it as your principal private residence (your main home). You must get the remedial work done before applying for the grant, and it must cost at least €200.

You must have evidence of a risk of lead contamination in your home. This can either be:

  • A letter from your water supplier (Irish Water or a group water scheme), advising that your water system probably contains lead pipes and fittings, or
  • A recent certificate from an accredited laboratory, showing that the level of lead in your water supply is higher than the legal limit

The contractor who does the work must give you the following: a current tax clearance certificate; itemised receipts; written confirmation that the works carried out and the materials used are of an appropriate quality and standard.

You will need to enclose all these documents with your grant application.

If you are an Irish Water customer and you plan to replace your lead piping, you must first apply for Irish Water’s Customer Opt-in Lead Pipe Replacement Scheme.

You may be able to get some tax relief under the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) scheme even if you get a grant to replace your lead piping – see revenue.ie.

Ceist

An féidir linn deontas a fháil chun píopáin uisce luaidhe a athru inár dteach?

Freagra

Riarann na húdaráis áitiúla scéim deontais atá faoi thástáil mhaoine mar chabhair do theaghlaigh atá ar ioncam íseal leis an gcostas píobáin agus feistis luaidhe a athrú.

Má ta d’ioncam faoi bhun €50,000 in aghaidh na bliana, féadfaidh tú deontas suas go 80% an chostais a fháil , suas go huasmhéid €4,000. Má ta d’ioncam idir €50,001 agus €75,000, féadfaidh tú  50% a fháil, suas go huasmhéid €2,500. Ní mór duit fianaise ar ioncam do theaghlaigh a thabhairt nuair a dhéanann tú iarratas ar an deontas  leis an údarás áitiúil.

Ní mór go bhfuil an áit chónaithe faoi d’úinéireacht agus caithfidh tú cónaí ann mar d’áit chónaithe phríomha. (do phríomhtheach). Ní mór go ndéantar an obair dheisiúcháin sula ndéanann tú iarratas ar an deontas agus ní mór go mbeadh costas €200 ar a laghad air.

Caithfidh tú fianaise a sholáthar, chomh maith, i leith riosca i leith éilliú luaidhe i do theach. I measc na fianaise atá inghlactha, tá an méid a leanas:

  • Foirm fógra ó do sholáthraí uisce (uisce Éireann nó scéim ghrúpa uisce) a chuireann in iúl gur dóchúil go gcuimseofar i do chóras uisce píobáin agus feistis luaidhe nó
  • Deimhniú saotharlainne creidiúnaithe a eisíodh le déanaí, a léiríonn go bhfuil an leibhéal luaidhe i do sholáthar uisce níos airde ná an teorann dlíthiúil

Ní mór don chonraithóir a dhéanann an obair an méid a leanas a thabhairt duit: deimhniu imréitigh cánach reatha; admhálacha miondealaithe: deimhniú i scríbhinn go bhfuil na hoibreacha a rinneadh agus na hábhair a úsáideadh ar an gcáilíocht chuí agus ar an gcaighdeán cuí.

Ní mór duit na cáipéisí seo go léir a chur le d’iarratas ar dheontas.

Féadfaidh tú roinnt faoisimh cánach a fháil faoin scéim Dreasachta Athchóirithe Tí fiú ma fháigheann deontas chun do phíobáin luaidhe a athrú – féach revenue.ie.

Know Your Rights: Small Claims Procedure // Nós imeachta Eorpach um éilimh bheaga

Question

I am not happy with work that a builder did on my house and will have to pay for someone else to finish the job properly. What can I do to recoup the additional expense?

Answer (August 2017)

If your original builder is unwilling to compensate you, you may be able to pursue a claim against the builder through the Small Claims Procedure. The aim of this procedure is to provide an inexpensive, fast and easy way for consumers to resolve disputes without needing to employ a solicitor. The maximum amount you can claim is €2,000. The small claims service is provided through local District Court offices.

Anyone who has purchased goods or services for private use from someone selling them in the course of business may submit a claim using the Small Claims Procedure. You can make claims for faulty goods or bad workmanship, for minor damage to property, and for the non-return of rent deposits for certain kinds of rented properties, for example, a holiday home. Businesses involved in disputes with other businesses can also use the Small Claims Procedure.

To make a claim, you complete an application form which you can download from the Small Claims Procedure section of courts.ie or get from the Small Claims Registrar at the District Court office. Make sure you use the correct name and address of the person or company you want to make the claim against. The completed form and a fee of €25 should be lodged with the Small Claims Registrar. You can also apply online at the Courts Service Online website, csol.ie.

The Registrar sends a copy of your application to the person you are making the claim against. If the other party does not reply within 15 days of receiving your application, your claim will be automatically treated as undisputed and you can apply for a court order in your favour. If your claim is disputed, the Registrar will contact you and let you have a copy of the reasons why the other party is disputing your claim. The Registrar will try to negotiate a settlement to the dispute. If no settlement can be reached, the matter is then set for a court hearing in the District Court.

Ceist

Níl mé sásta leis an obair a rinne tógálaí ar mo theach agus ní mór dom íoc as duine eile chun an jab a chríochnú i gceart. Cad is féidir liom a dhéanamh chun an costas breise a aisghabháil?

Freagra

Mura bhfuil do chéad tógálaí sásta  tú a chúiteamh, féadfaidh tú a bheith in ann éileamh a dhéanamh i gcoinne an tógálaí tríd an Nós Imeachta um Éilimh Bheaga. Is é aidhm an nós imeachta seo bealach saor, scioptha agus éasca a sholáthar do thomhaltóirí díospóidí a réiteach gan aturnae a fhostú. Is é €2,000 an t-uasmhéid is féidir leat éileamh. Soláthraítear an tseirbhís éilimh bheaga trí oifigí áitiúla na Cúirte Dúiche.

Féadfaidh duine ar bith a cheannaigh earraí nó seirbhísí i gcomhair úsáid phríobháideach ó dhuine a dhíolann iad i gcúrsa gnó éileamh a chur isteach ag baint úsáide as an Nós Imeachta um Éilimh Bheaga. Is féidir leat éilimh a dhéanamh ar earraí lochtacha nó ar drochshaoirseacht, i gcás damáiste a rinneadh ar réadmhaoin, agus chun earlais cíosa neamhaisíoctha le haghaidh cineálacha áirithe réadmhaoine ar cíos, mar shampla, teach saoire. Is féidir le gnólachtaí a bhfuil baint acu i ndíospóidí le gnólachthaí eile an Nós Imeachta um Éilimh Bheaga a úsáid freisin.

Chun éileamh a dhéanamh, comhlánaigh tú foirm iarratais ar féidir leat é a íoslódáil ón Rannóg Nós Imeachta Éilimh Bheaga de courts.ie nó í a fháil ón gCláraitheoir na nÉileamh Beag in oifig na Cúirte Dúiche. Cinntigh go n-úsáideann tú ainm agus seoladh ceart an duine nó na cuideachta ar mhaith leat an t-éileamh a dhéanamh ina choinne. Ba chóir an fhoirm chomhlánaithe agus táille €25 a thaisceadh le Cláraitheoir na nÉieaimh Beaga. Is féidir leat iarratas a dhéanamh ar líne freisin ar Láithreán Gréasáin na Seirbhíse Cúirteanna Ar Líne, csol.ie.

Cuirfidh an Cláraitheoir cóip de d’iarratas chuig an duine a bhfuil tú ag déanamh an éilimh ina choinne. Mura dtugann an páirtí eile freagra laistigh de 15 lá ó d’iarratas a fháil, déileálfar go huathoibríoch ar d’éileamh mar éileamh gan cheistiú agus féadfaidh tú iarratas a dhéanamh ar ordú cúirte ar do shon. Má tá díospóid ar d’éileamh, déanfaidh an Cláraitheoir teagmháil leat agus tabharfaidh sé cóip duit de na cúiseanna a bhfuil an páirtí eile ag cur in aghaidh d’éilimh. Déanfaidh an Cláraitheoir iarracht socrú a dhéanamh ar an díospóid. Mura féidir teacht ar shocraíocht, atreoraítear an cheist ansin d’éisteacht cúirte sa Chúirt Dúiche.

Are you registered to vote?

To vote in an Irish election or referendum, you must be on the Register of Electors. The Draft Register of Electors for 2018-2019 is now available. You can check it at local authority offices, Garda stations, libraries, post offices, or online at checktheregister.ie, until 25 November 2017. The new Register will come into effect on 15 February 2018.

If you will be aged 18 or over on 15 February 2018, you should check that your name and address are present and correct on the Draft Register. If there is any mistake, tell your local authority before 25 November 2017.

If you are not on the Register and you wish to be included on it, you must fill in form RFA (pdf). If you need to correct or change your entry, you must fill in form RFA1 (pdf).  If you are on the Register but your address has changed, you use form RFA3 (pdf). This will also remove you from the Register for your previous address.

Read more about registering to vote.