We found ourselves dry after the kitchen appliances were removed from the house we bought – what are our options?

Q We moved on March 1 and when viewing the property we were buying, we were verbally assured that the built-in appliances were included in the sale.

We were really annoyed to learn on moving day that four of the five devices had been removed. After an argument between lawyers, we recovered the refrigerator and the dishwasher.

After 10 days we had to buy a new cooker/oven and freezer costing €1800 which was more expensive due to the integration. All curtain rods and radiator covers have also been removed.

We complained to the estate agent but we feel very disappointed here. I asked several times before the sale, both from the real estate agent and from the lawyers, for a list of the contents, each saying that the other was responsible for it. Do you have any advice on who we can pursue this with?

It is really boring. This is a matter of contract law. William Tilley of lawyers for Ivor Fitzpatrick & Co says that while fixtures and fittings are often associated with the purchase/sale of a property and left behind, they should always be “expressly addressed” when entering into contracts.

“This can be done by your attorney writing an inventory,” he says, adding that “grey areas often appear when such inventories are overlooked.”

As for a cure now, that seems unlikely. “Any claim in the Small Claims Court is capped at €2,000, but unfortunately your situation does not fit neatly into one of the small claims procedures.”

Mr. Tilley advises you to review your sales contract and its annexes. “Your solicitor should have agreed with the sellers that a detailed list of fixtures, fittings, etc. should be drawn up so that all parties were clear about what was left and what the sellers were taking with them.

“It is not uncommon for freestanding fixtures such as radiator covers etc. to be removed as they are not considered to be an integral part of the building.

“Given that this has been dealt with verbally, the appeal will be extremely difficult.”

I read a recent article where you mentioned that people using trackers should never switch mortgages. Permanent TSB charges me a margin of 2.25pc (I withdrew mine in 2008 and by the time the reduced rate ran out the margin was fixed). With the Avant money, I could get a fixed rate of 2.1% over 10 years. Would it still be madness to change? I have 16 years left in my term.

It’s a very interesting question. While I maintain the principle of hanging on to now-defunct trackers and not being tempted by exciting offers from banks, you bought yours just as the run was ending.

Trackers are a loss generator for lenders. Although a small bump is built in – in some cases I’ve seen, as low as 0.5pc – it really is “free” money for borrowers, certainly given current inflation.

However, a 2.25pc bump is definitely high.

Martina Hennessy of Doddl.ie Mortgage Advisers says after 2008 mortgages were later introduced called ‘tracker portal’ products where you could move in and port your tracker with the bank adding 1pc to the margin of origin.

“Lenders like Avant Money are now offering lower rates than the anchor banks and have also introduced a range of longer term fixed rates with their One Mortgage up to 30 years. The current availability of lower longer-term fixed rates, plus the expectation that the ECB base rate to which your tracker is directly linked, could rise, it is reasonable to consider whether it now makes sense to lock in on one of these lower fixed rates.

“As a mortgage adviser, I would always emphasize that trackers are valuable products because you are not exposed to a lender’s own pricing. I caution you that if you change lenders or switch to a fixed rate product, you will lose that follow rate.

“In your own case, based on the remaining term of your mortgage and the above-average margin at which your tracking rate is set, you need to consider whether you value security over repayments. and if you want to lock in a fixed rate.

“Follow-up rates are variable and therefore may increase; fixed rates are fixed so that you make the same repayment during the fixed period. The 2.1pc rate you note above is the 10 year fixed rate from Before and for your loan to value their 15 year term is equal to your current rate of 2.25pc (LTV 60pc) .

“Given that unless ECB rates go into a negative position, which they didn’t during the time you held the tracker, then your rate, at 2.25%, is currently as low as it has been and one would perhaps expect it to be.

“One advantage of a variable rate is that you can overpay (Avant Money allows 10% of the unpaid principal balance to be overpaid each year, giving you some flexibility). If you qualify for the fixed rate over 10 or 15 years and if you want to lock in your repayments to protect yourself against possible rate increases, this is something you should explore further.

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