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Fairness needed in commercial sector

‘What are we going to do about the rates? Businesses are closing.’

This front page headline (Irish Examiner, Nov 29), covered a Cork District Court report, by Liam Heylin, where Judge Olann Kelleher criticised the high commercial rates policy of Cork City Council, at a time when hundreds of businesses face prosecution in the run-up to Christmas.

I concur with the remarks of Judge Kelleher. The problem, however, does not alone apply to Cork City Council, but to other local authorities throughout the country, including some greedy landlords.

With the economic recession, compounded by greed and avarice on the part of some landlords and the relentless increase in annual rates, with last year and this year the exception with Cork County Council, many commercial concerns have closed. Others struggle for financial survival.

The rates on premises are governed by legislation from 1838, 1852 and the Act of 2001. I understand that the current legal advice is that existing leases could not be amended, but a working group is being considered for their efforts to ease the strain and pain of the annual rates demand, which has been responsible for the sending of many rate-payers to an early grave. Likewise, with leases and the Revenue Commissioners.

The more some landlords have, the more they want. Greed is an evil that is fast eating away the heart of the commercial sector in this country.

Some years ago it was the absentee landlords, until we took to the streets in protest against the unjust demands of these vultures. Jackboot tactics were employed by the absentee landlords and by the looks of things, some Irish landlords, right across the country, are adopting similar draconian measures. Much covets more.

Regardless of how tough times are, it is all take and no give. In such cases would it be too much to ask landlords to forgo a five years rent to allow the tenant to catch up?

Many shops are closing down, due to leases they say that are forcing them to pay exorbitant rents. It doesn’t make sense. What will happen is that these shops close and the next tenant will pay a lower rent.

In an effort to bring some semblance of justice to the commercial sector I make a strong appeal to the Minister for Justice in his new law reform on commercial rates to create a mechanism to allow tenants to buy their way out of existing leases, otherwise we face further shop closures.

Cllr Noel Collins

Midleton

Co Cork


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