Cantillon: Searching questions about property

Confusion over Property Services Regulatory Authority database

A search without selecting property type shows 17 leases for Henry Street were signed in 2010. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

A search without selecting property type shows 17 leases for Henry Street were signed in 2010. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 01:00

Following a story yesterday on the dearth of retail leases on Ireland’s main shopping streets signed in the period since 2010, based on the new database from the Property Services Regulatory Authority, which went live on Thursday, it has been brought to this newspaper’s attention that the report was factually incorrect.

The register allows searches to be made under different categories of property – retail, agricultural, office, industrial or other – and the article was based on the results from searches that selected for retail property.

However, readers contacted us to point out that if you do a search without selecting property type, an entirely different set of results arise.

So while the article said there was only one retail lease signed on Dublin’s Grafton Street since 2010, per the database, in fact 29 leases were signed, the majority of them for what must be retail operations. Likewise, while the article said there were two retail leases signed since 2010 for Henry Street, Dublin, a search without selecting property type shows 17 leases in total were signed on the street, presumably most of them being for retail space despite their not appearing under a search for that category.

A search without selecting for property type for Shop Street, Galway, throws up eight leases; for Henry Street, Limerick, 15 leases and for Patrick Street, Cork, 20. Searches for those streets that selected for retail property only, threw up only one result – for Henry Street, Limerick.

The reason for the confusion is interesting and not a little worrying. The database is the result of legislation that requires tenants who have signed leases that have been sent to the Revenue and stamped, to forward information about the leases to the Property Services Regulatory Authority within a certain time. If this does not happen, the authority ends up with the basic facts about the lease, received from the Revenue, but little else.

This leads to searches under property type throwing up fewer instances than would otherwise be the case. It also greatly reduces the amount of information contained in the database. The situation is so bad that the authority has now written to about 8,000 tenants, asking them why they have not sent in the required information.

The irony, of course, is that the whole point of the project is to help tenants by making the market in which they are operating more transparent.

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