Dáil debates

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Review of Rent in Certain Cases) (Amendment) Bill 2010: Second Stage (Resumed)


3:00 pm

Photo of Mary WhiteMary White (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party)

I find it hard to believe the Labour Party actually believed the retrospective imposition of downward rent reviews on existing commercial leases was possible. As others have stated, including Deputy Chris Andrews, we simply cannot tear up the rule book for those who enter into contractual agreements. The wording of Labour Party's Bill demonstrates that extending section 132 of the 2009 Act to current leases is not possible. The Minister has outlined for the House the practical difficulties arising from this Bill, such as the issue of a mechanism to ensure compliance by landlords with the Government's version of retrospective rent review.

I welcome what the Government has announced in the area of helping retailers and those paying commercial rent with leases. The ban on upward-only rent reviews last month was welcome, and something the Green Party and I highlighted the need for to the Minister on several occasions. I trust that the new working group established by the Minister will provide creative and sensible solutions before issues get into court and before people have to close their doors.

If the Leas-Cheann Comhairle took a walk around many of the shopping centres in Dublin or any of the major urban centres, he will see boarded-up shops with lovely pictures of strolling couples with babies in buggies, but nothing behind the mural except a closed-up shop and a story of heartache. If we can get this working group together and ensure there is strong negotiation between landlords, pension companies and retailers, we could get some of the 42,500 small and medium enterprises up and running again, particularly in the retail sector.

The Labour Party, which long talked about implementing the Kenny report but never did anything about it, should pay heed in this regard. The new windfall tax on the sale of land rezoned after purchase will prevent speculation on land. A site value tax, when implemented by this Government, will also help as it would incentivise development and investment on a site rather than speculation on new lands. The commitment by Government to amend the Data Protection Act to allow the publication of sale of property data and a new Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government database of residential and commercial property sales will also help to ensure decent rental prices for all in the future. Like anything else in life, dialogue is important whether in personal, political or business relationships. With dialogue we can ensure decent rents.


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