Know Your Rights August 2020

Citizens Information

Know your rights: Help to Buy

August 27, 2020

I’m planning to buy my first home, how do I qualify for the Help to Buy Scheme?

As a first-time buyer, if you buy or self-build a new residential property, you may be able to claim a refund of income tax and DIRT that you paid over the previous 4 tax years. You cannot claim relief on the PRSI or USC you paid.

The maximum relief has been temporarily increased until 31 December 2020. Now, you can claim enhanced relief on the lesser of:

  • €30,000
  • 10% of the purchase price of the property
  • 10% of the completion value of a self-build
  • The amount of income tax and DIRT you paid for the previous 4 years

To be eligible for the enhanced relief, you must sign a contract for a new house or draw down on a self-build mortgage between 23 July 2020 and 31 December 2020.

To qualify, the property must:

  • Be a new-build property or a self-build
  • Cost under €500,000
  • Be bought or built as your first home (it cannot be an investment property)

You must also:

  • Live in the property for 5 years from the date that it is habitable
  • Be fully tax compliant for the 4 years immediately before your claim

You do not qualify if you:

  • Are a cash buyer
  • Are buying with someone else who is not a first-time buyer
  • Have previously bought or built a property, either individually or jointly with anyone else, even if you are now separated or divorced from that person. If you have inherited or been gifted a property previously, it does not affect your eligibility.

You must take out a mortgage of at least 70% of the purchase price (or, for a self-build, 70% of the valuation approved by the mortgage provider). This is known as the loan to value ratio. You can have a guarantor on the loan.

You can read more about the Enhanced Help to Buy Scheme on

Know your rights: Buying a service

I just had a new patio fitted by a landscape gardener 2 months ago. The patio slabs are already beginning to crack. I am not happy with the quality of the work. What can I do?

When you hire someone to perform a service you are making a contract. As parties to the contract, you and the landscape gardener (the ‘service supplier’) have rights and obligations.  If your service supplier does not do what they said they would, they are in breach of the contract. Contracts can be written or verbal and a verbal agreement is still legally binding.

Under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980 you can expect that:

  • The supplier has the necessary skill to provide the service
  • The service will be provided with proper care and diligence
  • The materials used will be sound
  • Any goods supplied with the service will be of merchantable quality (that is of reasonable and acceptable standard, taking into account other factors such as durability and price)

Your service supplier is not allowed to mislead you. They should give you accurate and truthful information about the service. A misleading claim includes where you were told the service is of particular standard or quality and it isn’t.

If something goes wrong, your service supplier must put things right. As a general rule, the service supplier can repair or replace the service. Alternatively, they can refund the costs of the service to you.

If you are not happy with the quality of the service you should:

  • Act as soon as you can – a delay can indicate that you have accepted faulty services
  • Do not attempt to repair what went wrong yourself or give it to anyone else to repair it
  • Make sure that you have a proof of purchase (a receipt, cheque stub, credit card statement or invoice)
  • Keep all evidence of damage caused by poor work, for example take photos
  • Check any warranty or guarantee you got from your service provider (the warranty or guarantee is the service supplier’s promise about the quality of their services and what they will do if there are problems). 

First, complain to the service supplier – explain what the problem is and how you want it to be put right. Put your complaint in writing so that you have a record. If you complain over-the-phone or face-to-face make sure to take note of what was agreed.

If the service supplier disputes your claims about the quality of the work, you may need to get the opinion of an independent expert.

Finally, if you have complained to the service supplier and the problem is still not resolved, you can use the small claims procedure (for jobs less than €2,000) or take a civil case (for claims over €2,000).

You can get more advice in our documents on complaining about building or home improvements and on buying a service.

During the COVID-19 pandemic you can contact your local Citizens Information Centre:

•           Bray CIC on 0761 07 6780 Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm

•           Email Bray CIC at – anytime

A limited number of appointments are available in Bray Citizens Information Centre

You can  find comprehensive integrated information online at and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo.

You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday,
    9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit to request a phone call from an information officer

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