Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (669)

Jim Daly

Question:

669. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to assist expired leaseholders; the advice she can offer to persons affected by this difficulty; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22584/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The position is that section 2 of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1978 introduced a prohibition on the creation of new leases reserving ground rents on dwellings. As regards existing ground rents, Part III of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (No.2) Act 1978 contains a statutory scheme whereby a person may, at reasonable cost, acquire the fee simple in his or her dwelling. To date, over 80,000 applicants have acquired freehold title to their property under this scheme. In the case of property other than dwellings, the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1967 contains provisions which facilitate acquisition of the fee simple in certain cases subject to agreed terms or on terms set out in an arbitration carried out by the County Registrar.

The position regarding ground rents was considered by the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution in their 2004 Report 'Private Property'. The Committee took the view that a ground landlord's ground rent is a form of property right which is constitutionally protected and that abolition of such rents would be unconstitutional in the absence of adequate monetary compensation. The Committee also noted that where leases were approaching expiry, any legislation providing for the abolition of ground rents would have to provide for the payment of enhanced compensation by the ground tenant. The same would obviously apply in the case of expired leases. In light of the foregoing, I have no immediate plans to introduce further legislation in this area but the operation of the existing law is being kept under review by my Department.