Johnny Ronan firm wins case over Medical Council rent

Upward only clause means HQ rent above €820k while market rent about €374k

Mr Justice Iarflaith O’Neill today ruled the upwards only rent review clause in the Council’s 20 year lease for its Kingram House headquarters off Fitzwilliam Square is not affected by a law banning upwards only rent reviews for business premises. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Mr Justice Iarflaith O’Neill today ruled the upwards only rent review clause in the Council’s 20 year lease for its Kingram House headquarters off Fitzwilliam Square is not affected by a law banning upwards only rent reviews for business premises. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

 

A company of developer Johnny Ronan has won its High Court case aimed at ensuring the annual rent for the Medical Council’s new headquarters in Dublin does not fall below € 820,000 although the market rent for the property is about € 374,100.

Mr Justice Iarflaith O’Neill today ruled the upwards only rent review clause in the Council’s 20 year lease for its Kingram House headquarters off Fitzwilliam Square is not affected by a law banning upwards only rent reviews for business premises.

The 20 year lease dates from January 2013 but provision for it was part of a complex series of transactions agreed in 2008 between Tanat Ltd and the Council concerning the premises.

The Council had argued it was entitled to the benefit of Section 132 of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009, the law banning “upward only” rent review clauses in leases for business premises which came into effect in February 2010.

The judge said Section 132 was not intended to have retrospective effect and accepting the Council’s arguments would mean it would be insulated from losses it would have experienced, following collapse of the property market, under the agreements between it and Tanat.

Those agreements had valued Kingram House about €20m when valuations based on market rents in December 2012, with upward and downward review clauses, were about €5m, he noted.

Upholding the Council’s arguments would interfere in a very material way in the complex set of contractual arrangements made between the sides aimed at the Council acquiring Kingram House and amount to “impermissible retrospective interference” with existing and vested property rights, he ruled.

A 2008 agreement between Tanat and the Council concerning options for the property included a put and call option agreement for a 20 year lease dating from January 2013.

Section 132 states the ban on upwards only rent reviews does not apply to agreements for property leases for business purposes entered into before the Section came into effect in February 2010.

The judge ruled the put option in the 2008 Kingram House agreement amounted to an agreement for such a lease and therefore Section 132 did not apply.

Earlier, the judge noted Kingram House was the only asset of Tanat, whose shareholders are Mr Ronan and Peter Conlan. Tanat bought Kingram House in 1989 for €883,000 and carried out significant redevelopment costing €2.5m and retaining the original Georgian building to the front, which had been a school attended by Oscar Wilde.