Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (Amendment) Bill 2017 [Seanad]: Report and Final Stages

Bill received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

As everybody knows, this Bill originated as a Private Members' Bill in the Seanad and received support from all sides of the House. Its primary objective is to deal with what are widely seen as the potentially adverse consequences for ground rent tenants flowing from a 2012 ruling of the Supreme Court.

I am pleased the Bill received support in this House and I thank colleagues on all sides for that support. I thank Senator Robbie Gallagher for initiating the Private Members' Bill, my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Charles Flanagan, for establishing the expert group to examine the Bill and draw up the appropriate Committee Stage amendments, and the members of that group, especially Professor John Wiley, the leading Irish expert in this complex area of law, as well as the officials in the Department of Justice and Equality for the work they put into the Bill. I also acknowledge the work of Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and the way in which he managed the Committee Stage consideration of the Bill. I thank all of those in Carrickmacross who supported the Bill.

Arising from acceptance of the Government's Committee Stage amendments, it will be necessary to report on those amendments to Seanad Éireann. I hope to do that as soon as possible, possibly as early as next week. I have already asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to commence the legislation following signature by the President and he assured me that he will do so. My hope and expectation is that the new legislation will enter into force before the end of the year. I know that will be good news for the people of Carrickmacross who have waited a long time for it.

I am very proud of the work my colleagues, Deputy Jim O'Callaghan and Senator Robbie Gallagher, have done on the Bill and I am delighted to see it reach this stage today. It will have a real impact on the people and business owners of Carrickmacross and south County Monaghan. As matters stand, businesses on the west side of Carrickmacross Main Street must pay ground rent to the Shirley estate as the property is a freehold. The Bill will allow people to buy the freehold of their properties. Once enacted which, I am delighted to hear, the Minister intends to ensure before the end of the year, businesses will no longer have to pay ground rents to landlords arising from Ireland's colonial past.

As the Minister knows, we met business owners in Carrickmacross numerous times and their anger about the challenges they face was palpable. This legislation will affect business owners across the country, but the Minister and I, along with Deputy Ó Caoláin who attended the meetings with us, are familiar with people's frustration about an archaic law which placed a huge burden on business people. It was particularly unfair on those on one side of a street in Carrickmacross. This is a wonderful day for those business people. It is to be hoped that the legislation will bolster business in Carrickmacross, not just at Christmas time but for many years into the future. Business people in the town are under the same pressure as many others in having to pay rates and meet their overheads. I thank everyone involved in ensuring that the Bill is passed. Jim Hand and many others in Carrickmacross will be very happy to hear that the legislation has eventually come to pass.

I join my constituency colleagues, the Minister, Deputy Humphreys, and Deputy Smyth, in warmly welcoming the passage of Report and Final Stages of the Dáil consideration of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (Amendment) Bill 2017. The passage of the Bill in a relatively short period is indicative of the cross-party support it has enjoyed since its initial drafting. I acknowledge the special import of the work of my colleague on the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality, Deputy Jim O'Callaghan, in regard to same. It is very important that the Bill progresses through all further steps in order to come into effect. It is not just the people of Carrickmacross who have been very much on our minds in facilitating the passage of the Bill, but people elsewhere in other settings and locations around the country who will, it is hoped, stand to benefit.

The issue at the core of the Bill is the outstanding anomaly from times long past regarding ground rents. We have to ensure that, like so much associated with those times, ground rents are confined to the history books.

This continuing anomaly, where landlords in external residence have been exacting significant demands and have undermined the ability of people in business to develop and expand their enterprises, has curtailed the potential of not only individuals but whole communities. It has prevented them reaching the highest levels of economic success. I join the voices of other Deputies in wishing the interests located along the west side of the main street of Carrickmacross every success in the future. I hope we will hear good news and that this Bill has lived up to its intentions and delivered on its purpose.

Question put and agreed to.

The Bill, which is considered to be a Dáil Bill under Article 20.2.2° of the Constitution, will be sent to the Seanad.