I propose to take Questions Nos. 110 to 113, inclusive, together.
There are no plans at present to introduce or amend legislation in this area. However, as with other policy and legislative reforms, interested parties are welcome to make submissions on this matter.
The position with regard to gazumping is that instances normally arise where a non-enforceable agreement for the sale of property at a particular price is reached between a vendor and intending purchaser but subsequently the vendor refuses to complete a formal contract and sells the property to another purchaser for a higher price. The non-enforceable relationship between the original parties is preserved by use of the term "subject to contract".
The problems associated with gazumping were examined in detail by the Law Reform Commission in its 1999 "Report on Gazumping" (LRC 59-1999). The Commission noted that delays arising between the conclusion of negotiations and completion of the formal contract were usually for the benefit of the intending purchaser, e.g. to ensure the availability of funding for that property, or to ascertain if there were any legal difficulties in relation to the title. The Commission concluded that the only practicable reforms were to improve the information available to intending purchasers and to regulate the terms according to which booking deposits are paid and accepted. It did not recommend any specific legislative reforms to the legal framework within which gazumping occurs.
The Property Services Regulatory Authority, which was established under the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011, published a detailed “Guide for Users of Property Services Providers in Ireland" which explains the legal position in relation to gazumping and related matters such as payment of deposits and signing of contracts. The Guide is available on the Authority's web site (www.psr.ie).
I would also like to advise the Deputy that the Property Registration Authority (PRA) is responsible for registering ownership of land in the State. This statutory function is conferred on the PRA under the Registration of Deeds and Title Acts 1964 and 2006. These Acts make provision for the making of more detailed statutory rules setting out the procedures to be followed when registering land. Statutory responsibility for the PRA, and land registration policy, now rests with the Minister and Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.