Government defeated in Seanad vote on upward-only rent reviews

Five Taoiseach’s nominees vote against the Government

Senator Feargal Quinn: Mr Quinn said his Bill, the Upward Only (Clauses and Reviews) Bill 2013, was anything but arbitrary or discriminatory. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Senator Feargal Quinn: Mr Quinn said his Bill, the Upward Only (Clauses and Reviews) Bill 2013, was anything but arbitrary or discriminatory. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 01:00

The Government was defeated in the Seanad yesterday in a vote on a Private Members’ Bill to end upward-only rent reviews.

The Bill, moved by Independent Senator Feargal Quinn, was carried by 23 votes to 22, in a division where Senators walked through the Tá and Níl lobbies, having received the backing of some fellow Independents, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.

Earlier, there had been a tie in an electronic vote and the Bill was defeated on the casting vote of Fine Gael Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke. When Mr Quinn’s supporters called for a “walk through’’ vote, Independent Senator Paul Bradford had arrived in the chamber and supported the Bill.

The Independents who voted against the Government included five of the Taoiseach’s nominees: Fiach Mac Conghail, Marie-Louise O’Donnell, Mary Ann O’Brien, Jillian van Turnhout and Katherine Zappone.

The Bill will now goes to the Dáil for consideration.

Mr Quinn said his Bill, the Upward Only (Clauses and Reviews) Bill 2013, was anything but arbitrary or discriminatory. “The reason this Bill targets upward-only clauses in the commercial sector is because of the damage which has been done to that sector by the existence of such clauses,’’ he said.

The legislation, he said, did not seek to impose any burden on landlords as a class, and it merely sought to allow market rents to prevail. It would apply generally to all commercial leases and would ensure that rents reflected the impact of deflation in the economy.

“In effect, therefore, the Oireachtas would be removing an impediment to the market finding its true levels of rent,’’ he added.

“It is true that this Bill would be depriving individuals and companies of an important contractual right without compensation, but this is very often a consequence of regular and ordinary legislative activity.’’

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch indicated that the Government would accept in principle a Private Members’ Bill on parental leave moved by Fianna Fáil Senator Mary White.

The Parental Leave Bill 2013 would allow the father of a newborn baby to share in the maternity leave currently given to women under Irish law. A woman would be allowed transfer a portion of her maternity leave to the child’s father.