The house of the rising costs
30 January 2011Mortgages, legal fees, stamp duty - buying a house can be a financial maze.
Throw in hundreds (or even thousands) of euro for fixtures and fittings, and it’s no wonder that buying property is considered one of the most significant financial decisions most of us will ever make.
But - after you’ve crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s, packed up your boxes and are all set to go - don’t forget the hidden costs of moving house.
The logistics of moving from one home to another - whether you are a renter or a buyer - will tap your wallet in ways that you might not have considered.
First past the post
So you’ve shown your friends and family your new home, but have you remembered to inform all your service providers of your decision to head for pastures new? Irish website NewAddress.ie - formerly MyAddress.ie - offers consumers a free service to take the hassle out of moving.
The company will liaise with banks, electricity firms, television companies and all manner of other service providers to change your address details. NewAddress.ie deals with upwards of 80 firms on behalf of customers.
The company used to charge a €10 fee, but have waived this for their relaunch. If you opt instead to contact all the companies you deal with to update your details, make sure to allow ample time.
If you are worried that you might miss important letters by moving house, An Post offers a postal redirection service for anyone changing their home or business address.
‘‘For a change of address, it is priced from €55 for three months, €75 for six months and €110 for 12 months," said An Post’s spokeswoman.
‘‘For security reasons, you must bring ID with the application form before availing of this service."
Electricity and gas
When you move to a new home, make sure to contact your gas or electricity provider in plenty of time.
‘‘If customers are moving home, They must give 28 days’ notice, either by writing to us or by calling our customer service team on 1850632632," said a spokesman for Bord Gáis.
He added that the company would then arrange a final meter reading and forward the final bill to the customer’s new address.
‘‘If the customer cannot provide us with the name of the incoming customer, we will need access to lock the meter," said the spokesman.
‘‘The customer remains liable for energy consumed at the premises until we receive the account cancellation notice, details of the incoming customer, or access to the premises to lock the meter."
Similarly, ESB requests that customers who are moving provide their name and account number, moving date, final meter reading, forwarding address and the new occupant’s name and phone number.
‘‘If these details are not provided, electricity will be disconnected and you will be charged the disconnection fee," the company’s website explains . ‘‘We try to avoid disconnecting the electricity supply when there is a simple change of occupancy."
When you move to a new home, the same process applies, to allow you to take responsibility for the electricity supply in your new home.
However, if you are moving into your first home and have never had an electricity bill in your name before, you may face an additional fee.
‘‘All new customers or those who have not held an account within the past two years must either sign up for direct debit payments or pay a security deposit of €300," according to ESB.
Bord Gáis operates a similar policy.
‘‘When you call to set up your new account, you will be registered and will then have 14 days to sign up for direct debit or pay the security deposit," said the spokesman.
‘‘Where the customer does not have a previous history or relationship with Bord Gáis Energy, we may insist on a deposit of between €200 and €400 for new accounts.
This is based on the length of occupancy, ownership of the property and if the customer is paying by direct debit or not."
Airtricity advises customers that are moving house to contact them to ensure that they are not billed for any electricity or gas consumed at their old address after they move out.
To close your Airtricity account or to settle your bill at your old address and move your account elsewhere, Airtricity requires the customer’s account number, a final meter read and a forwarding address.
If you wish to sign up to Airtricity’s service at your new home and are a new customer, you face a security deposit of €300.You can avoid this if you pay your bills by direct debit. ‘‘Customers also benefit from cheaper unit rates by choosing to pay by direct debit," Airtricity’s spokesman said.
Renters face a different situation than homeowners. ‘‘Tenants are required to pay a security deposit of 200 if paying by direct debit and a 300 deposit if they do not opt for direct debit bill payment," the spokesman said.
‘‘If the customer is a homeowner, they can request a refund of a security deposit after 12 months, provided they have satisfied our payment terms on a continuous basis. If the customer is a tenant, the security deposit will be repaid when the customer closes the account, provided the full account balance has been paid."
Home phone, television and internet contracts tend to require customers to sign up for a minimum period. If you break this contract, you may face additional charges, unless you can transfer the customer account to your new address.
UPC said that it required at least 14 days’ notice to transfer an existing account to a new address. ‘‘Customers who select UPC as their preferred provider at their new address simply transfer their account number," said a spokeswoman.
However, if you decide to discontinue your UPC service within the first 12 months of your contract, a cancellation fee will apply. ‘‘This may be as much as €200 or the balance of the contract period owed, whichever is the lesser," the UPC spokeswoman said.
Once the 12-month period has passed, customers who want to terminate their service must provide a forwarding address and pay any outstanding bills. ‘‘If a customer moves to an area where there is no service or they simply move to an alternative provider, we require 30 days’ notice and full payment to the end of the 30 days’ notice," said a spokeswoman.
With Sky, if a customer is moving house and wants to remain a Sky customer, the company will transfer the existing service to the new home at no cost. However, if you want to discontinue your service, you will be charged for the remainder of the minimum 12-month term at the rate of Sky’s cheapest available option.
If you move to a new home and want to avail of Sky’s service for the first time, there is an initial set-up fee of €30.Aside from providers, having a television service also means an additional charge for your television licence.
At an annual rate of €160, television licences are too expensive to discard when you move home, but you can transfer your television licence to your new address. ‘‘Your television licence moves with you, but you must inform An Post’s TV licence team of your new address details so that they can update their records.
Your automatic renewal notice will then be sent to your new address at whatever stage it is due."
Your home phone is another consideration when moving house. Eircom allows customers to transfer their phone line to their new house, if they provide a phone number and customer account number, contact phone numbers, the address of the new property and the date they are moving.
For customers who have a telephone line in their home and are moving to a house which previously had a working telephone line, the connection is free.
However, if the house they are moving into has never had a land line, or line work needs to be completed, Eircom will charge a connection fee of €121.93. A promotion offers free connection for new and already in-place lines until June 7.
If a customer is moving to a house with a working line and the resident agrees to transfer this number to the new owner, a fee of €12.10 will apply.
‘‘If a customer has signed a contract for either six months in the case of a land line or 12 months for both land line and broadband, early cease charges would apply if the customer cancels the contract, but of course there are exceptions," Eircom’s spokeswoman said.
‘‘However, if the customer is transferring exactly the same services as they had before to their new address, there are no cancellation fees."
Moving home could also affect the insurance premiums that you pay for home and motor cover.
‘‘For example, if you are moving from a rural area to Dublin, you should expect to pay a higher premium for home insurance," said Michael Horan, non-life manager at the Irish Insurance Federation.
‘‘Rebuild costs are higher in Dublin, so the sum insured would be higher, which would obviously have an upward effect on premium."
Another reason your home insurance premium may change when you move would be the risk of theft at your new home.
‘‘If there were an increased theft risk, then your contents cover would be more expensive," Horan said. ‘‘For household cover, geographical area is a rating factor, especially for contents cover."
Your car insurance premium could also change. ‘‘The main rating factors for car insurance are age, gender, claims history, driving experience and what you use the car for," Horan said.
‘‘Geography is also a factor. For example, if you will be parking your vehicle in an area with a higher theft risk, or driving it in an area with a higher frequency of claims, you could see a rise."
Does your home have a driveway or parking spot that allows you to park for free? Moving to a property with on-street parking may result in an additional expense.
Typically, houses in urban areas that have parking outside require residents to apply for a resident’s parking permit from the local authority. For Dublin City Council, there’s a fee of €40 for one year - or €70 applies if you pay for two years at once. Galway City Council charges €20 annually for residents’ parking permits, while Cork City Council charges €10 annually.
Where you live determines how much you pay to dispose of household waste. For example, if you rent an apartment, your landlord most likely pays management fees, so you have access to free waste disposal at your apartment complex. If you own an apartment, your management fees typically cover your waste bill.
People living in houses are charged for waste disposal in a variety of ways, whether by the local authority or a private waste collector.
Some areas levy a fixed annual charge plus a ‘‘per bin lift’’ fee. Others operate a pay-by-weight service, while some charge an annual standing charge plus an additional charge per kilo of waste.
Monday, January 31, 2011
The house of the rising costs - From The Post