My Department owns and operates, under Statute, six Fishery Harbour Centres at Killybegs, Ros an Mhíl, Dingle, Castletownbere, Dunmore East and Howth. Properties located in the Fishery Harbour Centres are, when appropriate, offered for tenancy under lease by means of open competitive tendering process following public procurement guidelines.
My Department has been in correspondence on this matter. In 2003, the persons concerned were successful in such a public tendering process for a property in Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre. The lease, signed voluntarily by the individuals in 2003, is a formal legally binding document on both parties, and the terms of the lease would have been made available prior to the tendering process.
As in other leasing arrangements, this lease sets out how future rents will be determined and in this case a rent review was to be conducted every five years. A rent review was scheduled and conducted for May 2008. The outcome of the review was disputed by the tenants and, as allowed for under the lease, a rent review dispute procedure, which is binding on both parties, was initiated. An independent expert agreed by both parties recommended a decrease in the original revised valuation. This rent as determined by the independent expert is the rent currently being charged for the property.
From an overall perspective, I am acutely aware of the economic situation facing businesses and small enterprises and following the completion of rent reviews due up to mid 2008 I decided that no rent reviews would be carried out for subsequent years and that zero rent increases would be applied across the board. This approach was applied in the case of the rent review that was due on this property in May, 2013.