Written answers

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Commercial Rent Review

9:00 pm

Photo of Ciarán LynchCiarán Lynch (Cork South Central, Labour)
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Question 54: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if it is intended to implement the recommendations contained in the report of the working group to look at the issue of commercial rent reviews which was published in August 2010; if he is considering any additional measures to assist retailers who are paying excessive rents and who are bound by upward only rent reviews; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43003/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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The report of the Working Group on transparency in commercial rent reviews was published on 17 August. The Group which I established had representatives from all of the key stakeholders in the commercial property market. They have all signed up to the Report and I am confident that there is a willingness to implement its recommendations.

The Working Group recommended the establishment of a public database containing relevant details of letting arrangements and rent reviews in the commercial property market. As I indicated during the course of the recent Second Stage debate on the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009, an appropriate amendment is being developed within my Department for inclusion in that Bill which would see the Property Services Regulatory Authority being given responsibility for the management of the database. Work is ongoing in relation to finalising the precise operational details pertaining to that database.

Also amongst the recommendations is the adoption, by landlords and tenants alike, of the rent review arbitration code which is appended to the report and which is intended to achieve a uniform and transparent procedure for the resolution of disputes in the sector. I have publicly endorsed the Group's recommendation in this area and I have been in contact with bodies which were represented on the Group to encourage them to commit to the code. I am happy to say that a number of those bodies have already done so.

I am very much aware of the problems which confront the retail and small business sectors and I am determined to do all that is within my power to improve matters for those sectors, insofar as my particular areas of responsibility are concerned. The Deputy will be aware that I introduced legislation, Section 132 of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009, the effect of which is that future rent review clauses will be construed as providing that the rent can go up, down or remain the same by reference to the rent payable immediately prior to the review date. For legal reasons the provision does not have retrospective effect. I have no plans for further legislation in this area.

My colleagues in Government are also fully committed to taking such measures as are within their powers to allievate the burden on the retail sector.

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