What's New

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

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.

Know Your Rights: Small Claims Procedure

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.

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.

Refunds of domestic water charges

The Water Services Bill 2017 is currently going through the Oireachtas. It provides for the refund of payments made for domestic water charges. Irish Water plans to issue refund cheques to around 990,000 customers after the legislation has been passed.

Customers can log into their My Water account on water.ie, where they can find their WPRN and Account Number, view their previous bills and payments, and check that Irish Water has their correct contact details for refunds.

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 on water.ie.

Know Your Rights: Better Energy Homes Scheme

Question

Our heating bills are quite high because our house is difficult to heat. Is there a grant available to improve the insulation?

Answer (October 2017)

The Better Energy Homes Scheme provides grants to homeowners to improve energy efficiency in their homes. It is also available to landlords and owners of more than one property. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers the scheme.

You can use the Home Energy Self Survey on the SEAI website to identify areas in your home that could be improved to increase energy efficiency. You can also get a Building Energy Rating (BER) done if you are uncertain about your energy-saving options or what work to get done first.

Grants are available for roof insulation, wall insulation, upgrade of heating controls, high-efficiency boiler installation and solar heating. You can also get a grant to have a BER done after the energy-saving work is carried out.

To qualify for a grant, you must: own a dwelling built before 2006; use a contractor from SEAI’s registered list; use newly fitted materials and products; have work done that complies with the required standards; have a BER carried out after the works are done and use a BER assessor from SEAI’s National Register. You must have grant approval before you buy materials or start work.

Grants for qualifying measures range from a maximum of €300 for attic or cavity wall insulation to a maximum of €4,500 for external wall insulation on a detached house. Grants are paid after the work is completed and you have paid your contractor.

If you get three qualifying measures done, a bonus of €300 is payable on top of the grants. (A BER doesn’t count as a measure for this bonus.) A further €100 is payable on completion of a fourth measure. See seai.ie for full details of grants and bonuses.

If you are also claiming a tax credit under the Home Renovation Incentive, the amount of expenditure that qualifies for the credit will be reduced. You can contact SEAI at 1850 927 000 or info@betterenergyhomes.ie.

Deadlines for self-assessed tax returns

Self-assessed taxpayers should make their “pay and file” tax return by 31 October 2017, if they are making a paper return. People using the Revenue Online System (ROS) now have until Thursday 16 November 2017 to make their return.

You should pay and file on time to avoid surcharges, interest and penalties, and reduce your risk of a tax audit. Under the pay and file system, you must do the following :

  • Make your tax return for the 2016 tax year, including a self-assessment of your tax due for that year
  • Pay the balance of any tax due for 2016
  • Pay Preliminary Tax for the current tax year – 2017.

Visit revenue.ie for more information, including a guide on completing your tax return (pdf).

Read more about the extended deadline and opening hours for ROS.

Cross-Border Healthcare Directive

If you are entitled to public health services in Ireland, you can access those health services in another European Union country and be repaid the cost if you meet certain requirements.

The amount that can be refunded is the cost of the public healthcare in Ireland, or the cost of your treatment abroad, if that is less. It does not include other costs such as travel.

Read more about the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.