The Seanad is to debate a proposed Bill later today, introduced by Superquinn founder Senator Feargal Quinn, that will seek to outlaw upward-only rent clauses in all leases.
The Upward Only Rent (Clauses and Reviews) Bill will give small businesses 'the leeway to agree a level of rent which is reflective of the current rental values along their street - a value which is reflective of the economic realities of 2013, not a value that is stuck back in 2006', Senator Quinn explained in an explanatory memorandum.
Under current legislation, rent review clauses entered into 28 February 2010 are required to reflect market conditions, meaning that rents can decrease as well as increase, reflective of the market. Rent agreements entered into before that date remain subjected to upward-only rent agreements.
On Budget Day 2011, the government abandoned its proposals (as outlined in the Programme for Government), to ban retrospective upward-only rent agreements, on advice from the attorney general, and fearing a constitutional challenge.
Quinn cites the 'exceptional' pieces of legislation that were introduced as a result of the financial crisis, including the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 and the Anglo Irish Bank Corporation Act 2009, as benchmark setters for the proposed Bill.
'Each of these pieces of legislation had a significant impact on property rights and other constitutional rights of citizens,' he wrote. The context in which those Bills and the exceptional nature of the measures and powers contained within them was spelled out during the Second stage debates on those Bills and is also articulated in their respective preambles. The prevailing economic turmoil also served as the backdrop.'
Quinn cited the commitment given by both government parties in their Programme for Government, and separately in their respective manifestos as a democratic mandate for the Bill.
Commenting on the proposed Bill, Retail Excellence Ireland's David Fitzsimons told Retail Intelligence that while he was "pleased that the issue has been raised again", its success depends on its acceptance by the government.
"Minister Shatter's response will be the most telling part of the process," Fitzsimons told RI. "He will either say, 'we've considered this, and it's not something we are going to revisit', or he will say 'we never thought about it this way', and it will lead to further discussion."