Leasing laws ‘put jobs in danger’

SEVERAL thousand retail workers face unemployment if significant changes aren’t made to existing commercial rent/lease legislation, according to one of the sector’s leading representative bodies.

Retail Ireland – the IBEC-affiliated representative organisation – has called on Government, specifically the Department of Justice and the Tánaiste’s office, to make a number of changes to current legislation, which is seeing a significant number of companies struggle.

“Unless there is lease reform, many more retail staff – several thousand, at least – will join the 30,000 retail employees who went on the Live Register in 2009,” Retail Ireland’s director Torlach Denihan warned yesterday.

“Retailers are taking in less money at the tills because sales are down and prices have been cut across the board.

“To survive, retailers have cut most overheads on their businesses, but rents are the one overhead they can’t alter. Rents are a huge component of the retail cost base but are almost impossible to reduce,” he added.

Retail Ireland wants some “new thinking” around the issue of upward-only rent review clauses – which have only been tweaked for new leases, to date – and more powers for arbitrators when dealing with rent disputes (including the power to insert break clauses in long leases and the ability to see all material information from a landlord in any case).

The Government, according to Retail Ireland, has been “receptive” to early communication on the issue.


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