Q: I put up storm doors last year and used the tax credit. If I put in insulation this year, can I use the tax credit again or is it a one-time credit? Can I use the unused portion left from last year?
A: Under the federal law affording you this credit, you are entitled to a $300 credit, which may be used between April 20, 1977, and Dec. 31, 1985. If you use some of it to put up storm doors, you may use the remainder for insulation and any other appropriate purpose until the entire $300 is used up. For details, see Internal Revenue Service Publication 903, "Energy Credit for Individuals."
Q: I bought my house 15 years ago and make my mortgage payments every month to a bank. But a friend told me that mortgage payments and papers that I bought the house are no proof that I'm the owner. My friend said I must have papers, like a deed and title. What are they and is my friend right?
A: Even though your house is mortgaged, you should have been given a deed at settlement, (when you purchased the house.) A deed is a written, usually witnessed notarized document setting out the names of the seller and buyer and a legal description of the house and land you purchased.
It is evidence of your title (ownership) to the house. You should have recorded the deed to protect your title or ownership completely. If you still have unanswered questions, consult your attorney for details.
Q: A builder started a couple of houses in our neighborhood last year but legal difficulties caused him to abandon them. They are unsightly and possibly an "attractive nuisance," since they attract children. Is there anything the neighborhood can do to force someone to finish them or can they just sit there unfinished indefinitely?
A: Your remedy will vary, depending on where you live, so you'll have to check with your local government to find out what you can do. But generally, in the situation you've outlined, the builder can be required by the jurisdiction to do one of two things.
If his building permit has expired, (usually a building permit is good for six months to one year or sometimes longer,) the builder can be required to either renew the permit and finish construction or restore the site to a condition that presents no hazard and is nonerosive.
If the builder fails to do as required, court action can usually be instituted against him. This will hold him in contempt of court, he may be jailed or fined or both.