224. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current status of ground rents; if those that are still being applied by landlords are subject to the statute of limitations; if she will introduce legislation to enable a referendum to abolish ground rents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35771/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The general position regarding ground rents is that section 2 of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) Act 1978 introduced a prohibition on the creation of new leases reserving ground rents on dwellings. As regards remaining ground rents, Part III of the Landlord and Tenant (Ground Rents) (No.2) Act 1978 contains a statutory scheme whereby the holder of a leasehold interest may, at reasonable cost, acquire the fee simple in his or her dwelling. To date, over 80,000 applicants have acquired freehold title to their property under this scheme. Comprehensive details of the manner in which the fee simple can be acquired under this scheme are available on the Property Registration Authority's website (www.prai.ie).
In the case of remaining ground rents, I should also add that a ground landlord is statute barred from claiming more than 6 years arrears of ground rent
With regard to the abolition of ground rents, the position is that this matter was considered by the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution in their 2004 Report 'Private Property'. The Committee took the view that a ground landlord's ground rent is a form of property right which is constitutionally protected and that abolition of such rents would be unconstitutional in the absence of adequate monetary compensation. The Committee also noted that where leases were approaching expiry, any legislation providing for the abolition of ground rents would have to provide for the payment of enhanced compensation by the ground tenant. In light of the foregoing, I have no immediate plans to introduce further legislation in this area but operation of the existing law is, however, kept under review by my Department.