Buying an apartment in Ireland is not the same as buying a house in Ireland. For a start there is generally a complex legal structure in an apartment development which apartment owners need to understand.
In general , if you are thinking of purchasing an apartment you should know the following 5 main provisions:
Title to an apartment is generally long leasehold title ie 999 years lease. The Lease is the main title deed to your property. It sets out the covenants and conditions which you must abide by. Often one schedule to the lease will provide rules regarding no animals, floor coverings, noise, clothes on balconies. It is important that your solicitor furnishes you with a copy of the lease so that you know these. A management company may also have house rules in place and again your solicitor should provide you with a copy of these to review.
2. Common Areas & freehold title
In a new development, the developer will retain the title to the common areas and freehold title however once all units are sold, the developer is obliged under the Multi Unit Development (MUD) Act 2011 to transfer the common areas to the management company.
This is often where problems arise with older developments. We have seen a number of issues arise lately where the common areas have not been transferred in breach of the MUD Act. This is an issue that must be investigated by your solicitor and if the common areas are not transferred you need to consider the ramifications of same when buying an apartment.
3. Service charge
It will be a provision of your Lease that you pay a service charge to the management company . This service charge will generally cover maintenance, utility costs re common areas, insurance (see below) . Prior to closing your solicitor will ensure up to date receipts regarding the service charge are obtained from the vendors solicitor.
Structural insurance for the apartment block is by way of what is called a “Block Policy”. Basically this covers any structural issues with the property. A copy of the block policy should be obtained by your solicitor and reviewed by you prior to signing contracts to review the excess noted on the policy and indeed what is covered. When you buy an apartment this block policy will be in place however you should also take out contents insurance separately to cover your apartment contents. The insurance cost is covered in the service charge paid annually .
5. Sinking fund
It is a provision of the MUD act that a sinking fund is put in place by the management company to cover any major repairs that may arise in the development from time to time ie roof repairs etc. This is another common issue that arises in apartment purchases in Ireland. It is common place that along with the common areas not being transferred, a sinking fund is not set up. Your solicitor should check the position with the sinking fund for you prior to signing contracts so that you are aware if this is an issue.