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Irish Water and Non Existent Addresses

There seems to be hundreds , possibly thousands , of homes that have not been sent an “application pack” by Irish Water .  (All the forms were due out by October 6th.)
We have seen dozens of queries about missing forms sent via Twitter to Irish Water every day -  and there are probably many more people who are phoning them to ask why no form was sent. (With many  giving up after waiting as much as 45 minutes to get through on the phones)

Missing Addresses

If a form has not been sent out by Irish Water – it is not just a simple matter of sending out a blank form to an address for completion.
Each form sent has to be linked to a specific location and postal address on a database (Using an application number and a PIN.)
Irish Water have had to try to build a database of all the homes in the country  before sending out these forms – so if your home is not on their database you will not have recieved a form.

The Irish Water database is not just a  list of addresses – it will need to  be a database that stores  exact geographic house locations as well as the postal address. This is not as simple as it sounds. They have also tried to match owners/occupiers names from the LPT system as well as the PRTB data.

There is another national address database which is  owned and maintained by An Post called the Geo Directory. This Geo Directory  is supposed to have all the buildings in  the country on it   – with a postal address and a geo-location code. Irish Water have access to this database – and it would probably have been the starting point for their metering project and customer database.

The problem they have is to try and match the addresses and names  from these various sources , remove duplicates and cater for separate apartments within  blocks . The Geo Directory may have a building location – but not the addresses of each apartment.
Postcodes are due to be introduced in 2015 – and maybe Irish Water’s job would be easier if postcodes were already in place.

Why wasn’t it a Problem For Property Tax

Property Tax are not too bothered about exactly where a house is. If Joe Bloggs gives an address they sent him a form and will accept his payment. LPT will not have to link that address to a specific water meter at some stage – but Irish Water do. LPT just have to possibly send a letter out every year – and can usually rely on the postman to find the house.

It is estimated that 40% of rural addresses in Ireland are not unique. In rural areas it is common for several  homes to have the same address – usually a townland name in a village. The letters usually get delivered correctly based on the name printed on them.

To a computer program – a slightly different address is just a different address.
To a computer program – the exact same address looks like a duplicate entry – but it could be two houses in a rural village.  The potential for problems is massive.

ESB Networks  seem to have managed to allocate every house in Ireland a unique MPRN number – and it is a fair assumption to make that all homes would  have an electricity supply and be on the ESB database.  We can only hope there were some valid reasons why  Irish Water  did not use property  information  from ESB as a start point. Maybe it just wasn’t compatible? Maybe there were data protection issues?

Creating an accurate database of all the homes in Ireland is a major exercise – not one that should be rushed.  Maybe the short timescale for implementation of the water charges didn’t help – but with all the money sspent on coonsultants and IT expertise – you would expect it to have gone better than it has.
A mis-match or error  rate of 1% would not be at all surprising.  One percent of 2 million properties – is 20,000. If the error/mismatch rate is as high as 3% there would be  60,000 missing or incorrect properties. It could be more.

The “National Forum on Addressing Functionality” when writing about unique addresses in Ireland estimated that “Initial matching by automated tools can be poor at an average of 50 -60%. Specialist and manual matching techniques can increase the matching rate to around 90%

If the matching rate has only been 90% for Irish Water – then there could be as many as 200,000 properties not on their database. There could also be some duplicates .

People are getting frustrated when they contact Irish Water to say that a form has not been recieved  and still nothing gets sent. But as far as Irish Water’s database is concerned – that house doesn’t exist. It has to first have it’s excact location confirmed and the co-ordinates and address details entered on the database before any forms can be sent.
In many cases people are being asked to call in because Irish Water staff need to ask specific questions about theh property so they can find it on a map.  It might even require a site visit to confirm.

Some people are worried that they will be penalised for late returns or will miss out on free allowances. The  deadline for forms to be returned has been extended to Nov 30th  (was Oct 31st )  . There has always been the option (not made very public) that allowances can be backdated up to 60 days.
We can only assume that Irish Water will not be as strict on backdating in the case of people who were late getting a form sent out.

1% Cashback with Bank of Ireland Mortgages

In a bid to attract more mortgage customers – Bank of Ireland are offering to refund 1% of the mortgage amount to home buyers. (This offer was initially for first time buyers only – but has been extended to all buyers)

So – on a 200,000 mortgage – BOI  would refund €2000. The offer is open until 31st December  2014 and there is no upper limit to the cashback amount. If the buyer moves their mortgage away from BOI within 5 years they will have to pay back the €2000.

Bank of Ireland recently stopped paying commission to mortgage brokers – so this is their new way of getting business. Of course- some mortgage broker representatives have said in the media that the cashback offer is not a good idea, but I wonder would they say that if they could still get commission off BOI?

Bank of Ireland’s mortgage rates are not the lowest available – but they are only slightly higher than their competitors. (As you can seee on our list of the Best Mortgage Rates .)

For someone looking to borrow 90% of the value of  a house on a variable rate mortgage – BOI are offering 4.5% at the moment.
The best rate they could get elsewhere is 4.45% at EBS

On a mortgage of 180,000 over 25 years the repayments would be only be €5 a month more with BOI at 4.5%  compared to 4.45% . That’s just €60 a year or €300 over 5 years. So the BOI €1800 cashback  deal would leave you €1500 better off  over 5 years.

Of course rates could change – so maybe a fixed rate would give buyers more security about future rate rises.

That 1% cashback could come in handy for decorating or furnishing a new house. If for some reason you do decide to move the mortgage within 5 years and you have to pay it back – just see it as an interest free loan. Visit BOI Mortgages Here

(Note:  BOI do not pay your stamp duty for you – the promotion is being marketed as “paying your stamp duty” – but it is a simple 1% of your mortgage amount paid into your bank account within 45 days of the drawdown. No cap on cashback.)

Big Rush to get 90% Mortgages Before 2015

This month the Central Bank announced proposals to restrict mortgage lending to try and prevent another property price “bubble”.

LTV Restrictions
The proposal involves  telling lenders that 85% of their home loans (in value terms) must be less than 80% of the value of the home. (80% Loan to Value or LTV). Currently many lenders are dishing out mortgages of up to 92% LTV. A higher LTV means a lower deposit is required by the buyer. An 80% mortgage on a €250,000 house will require a deposit of  €50,000 – whilst a 92% mortgage would only require the buyer to find a deposit of €20,000 .

Loan to Income Ratio : (LTI)
Lenders usually lend up to a certain multiple of the buyers income(s). The proposals from the Central Bank also include restricing  lending so that no more than 20% of a lender’s mortgages can be above 3.5 times LTI.

If the proposals become mandatory   – it will still be possible to get a mortgage of more than 80%  or more than 3.5 times income – but it will be much harder.
If you are looking for a mortgage – here are the current Best Mortgage Rates at 90% LTV

EBS 1 year fixed 3.5 %
Haven 1 year fixed 3.5 %
KBC 1 year fixed, 3.5 %
AIB 1 year fixed, 3.5 %
Bank of Ireland 1 year fixed 4.1 %
EBS Limited 3 year fixed 4.2 %
Haven Mortgages Limited 3 year fixed 4.2 %
Ulster Bank 3 year fixed 4.25 %
KBC 3 year fixed, 4.3 %
KBC 2 year fixed 4.35 %
Bank of Ireland 2 year fixed, 4.35 %
Bank of Ireland 2 year fixed, 4.35 %
EBS Variable 4.45 %
KBC Variable 4.47 %
Haven Variable 4.49 %
AIB Variable 4.49 %
Bank of Ireland Variable 4.5 %

Note : Bank Of Ireland are offering a 1% cashback deal on all mortgages for house purchases.  On a €250,000 house that would mean a lump sum of €2500. That would come in handy for furniture and other expenses. (or stamp duty).
More about the BOI Cashback Deal Here