Tuesday 21 November 2017

Why we'll strike over 'barmy' 300pc rent hikes -- tenants

TENANTS at harbours around the country have unveiled a 'rent strike' against the Government, the Herald has learned.

The dispute revolves around rent reviews on properties leased from the Department of the Marine with claims that increases of up to 300pc are being levied on tenants.

Renters say that the price increases mock the Government's own policy on introducing downwards rent reviews -- and as a result hundreds of thousands of euros worth of fees have gone unpaid.

There is also criticism of Minister Simon Coveney over allegations that he has failed to address the issue.

Sean Doran, whose family have run businesses in Howth harbour for half a century, warned that jobs could go if the department presses ahead with a 166pc increase in rent.

"The department has increased our annual rent from €30,000 to €80,000 and that is simply not sustainable," said Mr Doran. "We simply cannot afford that sort of rise from a Government which promised to review rents in the private sector but which doesn't practice what it preaches."

Mr Doran is one of a number of tenants in various harbours who is involved with mediators in a bid to resolve the disputes.

John Shine, a tenant in Killybegs in Co Donegal, admitted he is also on rent strike over what he claims are "barmy" charges for a once-derelict ice house on the harbour in the village.

"The Department want €14k per year on a building which is the exact same and size as a former ice house in Howth for which they charge rent of €4k," he told the Irish Independent.


There are also rent disputes in other ports including Castletownbere in Co Cork where Rodney Sullivan described his rent increase as "horrendous".

The ship's chandler said his ground rent was increased by 90pc -- and then back-dated three years.

"There are eight people working here and this sort of increase jeopardises what's left of our industry in the harbours around the country," said Mr Sullivan.

Pat Murphy (83) set up a fish processing plant 30 years ago at Castletownbere.

He told the Herald: "I worked 18-hour days with my wife to get that plant going and there are more than a hundred people working there now.

"The department is putting a lifetime of hard work and all those jobs on the line."

Mr Shine -- who has set up a national support group for harbour town businesses called FishingForJobs -- warned the rent rises are jeopardising jobs.

"Daniel O'Connell must be turning in his grave at a Department (of the Marine) which is tearing up every principal he won from the British on fair and equal treatment," he said.

The department refused to discuss the disputes, saying: "The terms and conditions of each lease are unique to each property and the department is not in a position to comment on the terms of individual leases."


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