Section 48 of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 (“the Act”) commenced on 1 January 2016 and deals with a homeowner’s obligations to pay water rates if selling their property. Under this section, a solicitor acting for a vendor of a residential property has certain obligations. Therefore, it is important that the vendor is advised of this when instructions are being taken at the beginning of the transaction.
When selling a property, the vendor must not only be registered with Irish Water, but must also have the water rates on the property discharged in full. The vendor must provide a certificate of discharge to their solicitor or a statement from Irish Water confirming the liability does not arise for the owner.
If the vendor is not willing to discharge the water rates, their solicitor still have legal obligations under Section 48 of the Act and must do the following in order to complete the sale: –
- Request a statement from Irish Water setting out the amount outstanding.
- Withhold from the net proceeds of sale remaining, after the discharge of all mortgages and other liabilities relating to the sale, the amount set out in the statement provided to the solicitor and remit that amount to Irish Water within 20 working days of the completion of the sale of the dwelling.
Section 48(8) provides that a receipt given to the vendor’s solicitor from Irish Water shall be in full and final settlement of any obligation imposed on the vendor’s solicitor under this section.
If you are a landlord, in order to avoid being liable for water charges, you should notify Irish Water within 20 days of entering an Agreement with a tenant and give the details of the tenant(s). Under Section 47 of the Act, if you do not provide the names of the tenant(s) within 20 days of entering this agreement, you will remain liable for the charges as homeowner until such time as these details are given to Irish Water.
The obligations under the act only arise for the vendor and their solicitor. No enquiry needs to be made by a purchaser’s solicitor about water charges as no liability for water charges passes to a subsequent owner.
Should you require more information on any aspect of the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 please contact Gillian Butler, solicitor at Keating Connolly Sellors, for expert legal advice on 061-414355 or [email protected].