Thanks to the IMF and the bailout programme, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter is being frogmarched into providing transparency in the property market. Last September 2013, we had the launch of the Property Price Register which provides very basic information on residential property sales from the start of 2010. It has transformed the property market with punters now having direct access to prices without relying on the limited and sometimes compromised knowledge of estate agents.
By end of this month, we should have basic information on commercial leases which should provide transparency on rent levels across the State.
Last week, Minister Shatter confirmed in a response to the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty that the database should be published by the end of March 2013 and that it will contain the rent payable under commercial leases across the State. The Minister did not confirm in his response the scope of the leases, the hope is that all extant leases will be included.
The effect of the publication of the database should be to reignite the outrage about Upward Only Rent Review leases as commercial tenants will be able to see comparable property where rents are less than 50% of the peak levels that are locked into UORR leases. It will be interesting to see if the outrage is channeled into a better campaign to challenge the continuation of such leases, with there being at least some body of legal opinion suggesting that changes can be made, and indeed campaigners against UORR leases might have received encouragement from the recently published IBRC Act 2013 which suspended certain property rights in the common good.
The full parliamentary question and response are here.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 823 of 6 November 2012, if he will confirm that the commercial leases database will be published by 31 March 2013; the information that will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter: Section 87 of the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 provides that the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) shall maintain and establish a database relating to commercial property leases. Section 87 further provides that the database shall, in respect of each relevant commercial lease which is in force, contain the following information: the address and description of the commercial property the subject of the lease; the date of the lease of the property; the term of years of the lease; the rent payable in respect of the property, and certain particulars to be provided to the PSRA in accordance with Section 88 of the 2011 Act.
I am advised by the Authority that work on the preparation of the Database is ongoing with the aim of publishing the Database by the end of March 2013.