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Thursday 21 August 2014

No referendum on upward-only rent reviews

Fionnan Sheahan

Published 14/02/2013 | 04:00

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Young couple calculating their domestic bills
Young couple calculating their domestic bills

THE Government has ruled out holding a referendum to get rid of upward-only rent reviews.

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The Coalition abandoned its promise to deal with the problem of tenants being unable to reduce their rents after being warned that compensation would have to be paid to landlords.

The closure of the HMV chain of music stores was blamed, in part, on the failure to reduce the rent on its outlets.

Attorney General Maire Whelan told the Cabinet that a change in the existing law would result in taxpayers having to pay compensation to landlords.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the Government was not going to move on the upward-only rent reviews because of this legal advice.

He explained: "We looked at the rent issue but the legal advice was very clearly that if there was to be a change, taxpayers would have to pay compensation to the landlords involved.

"Clearly that is not on at a time like this."

Mr Bruton also ruled out holding a constitutional referendum to over-rule the existing property rights of landlords.

He said: "I don't see it as being an issue that there will be a constitutional amendment.

"We have legal advice that this isn't a doable approach and we have to work on other instruments that will make it easier for the retail trade to make a difficult transition."

Compensation

Mr Bruton said the Government would focus on items like helping businesses to go online and reforming the licensing and regulation system to cut costs.

Last month, a well-known shoe shop closed for the last time after an epic eight-year battle against upward-only rents.

Korky's, on Grafton Street in Dublin, shut with the loss of eight jobs, although outlets on Henry Street and the Ilac Centre in Dublin and in Cork city remain open.

Owner John Corcoran emerged as a national figure, thanks to a high-profile campaign against upward-only rent reviews.

Upward-only contracts have been illegal for new leases since 2009, in large measure thanks to Mr Corcoran's campaign.

During the 2011 general election, the campaign against upward-only rents for older leases was backed by both Labour and Fine Gael. Labour TDs, among them Pat Rabbitte, even campaigned with Mr Corcoran during the election.

Irish Independent

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