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Firms are held to ransom on leases

I RECENTLY read that Arnotts had to pay millions to exit an upward-only lease in the Jervis shopping centre. I also heard of a case of a small shop owner in a country town, paying a huge rent, now in danger of losing the family home due to personal guarantees demanded when the lease was signed. I noted also that Celtic Bookmakers were asked for two and a half years’ rent to exit from leases.

In any other country in Europe the leases would be renegotiated and the businesses saved.

This lease law is a system of extortion, institutionalised and perpetuated by The Law Society of Ireland and the Society of Chartered Surveyors. The Upwards Only Rent Review Commercial Lease clause is an optional clause they will claim but fail to explain why virtually all commercial leases in the last 30 years have this clause, even when the State is the tenant. If it was optional our public servants should be asked why they agreed to such leases on behalf of the Irish citizen.

This system fuelled the property bubble and destroyed the country. The system was wide open for corruption.

This clause is now banned in new leases but there is anecdotal evidence that new tricks are being used by the surveyors on behalf of their clients, ie you can only have a short lease with no rights of renewal or that only the landlord can trigger the rent review.

Why should these bodies who have failed to act responsibly at great cost to the nation continue to be the arbitrators in these matters? We must adopt European lease law that is not open to manipulation.

Maire O Corcrain
Glenageary, Co Dublin