Councillors welcome rates liability move

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Cllr Maria Byrne 61CITY councillors have welcomed the new Local Government Reform Bill, which removes rates liability for new commercial tenants.

According to Labour councillor Joe Leddin, the approval of amendments in the area of commercial rates arrears liability, will provide a timely boost to small and medium-sized companies looking to relocate and occupy new offices.

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“Under the previous legislation a new commercial tenant was liable for the rates arrears of the previous tenant up to a maximum of two years and this added financial burden meant many companies simply chose not to relocate despite vacant space and suitable buildings available,” said Cllr Leddin.

“Equally as important is the requirement by the owners of commercial property to clear all outstanding rates liabilities prior to the sale of their properties with the rates bill to be deducted from the selling price rather than the rates burden falling on the new owner,” he added.

The new Local Government Reform Bill will also allow for local authorities to use their  discretion in determining whether or not to levy the owners of vacant commercial units which previously were charged 50 per cent of overall rates liability.

“These changes I believe will help considerably in stimulating economic activity in the city centre where there are many new and existing buildings available for letting to new companies. The reduction in the commercial rates for 2014 makes Limerick the most competitive City now for doing business and these changes will hopefully lead to increased employment across many different sectors,” said Cllr Leddin.

Fine Gael councillor Maria Byrne has also welcomed the changes. As a ratepayer, Cllr Byrne said she is well aware of the difficulty that new businesses are facing when starting off.

“This is great news for businesses in Limerick, and something they have been seeking for some time. Under the old legislation, which dates back to 1838, tenants who vacated a property with rates due were not be liable and instead the new tenant is forced to pay the rates arrears. It was ludicrous that a law dating from before the Famine was still affecting Irish businesses in the 21st century,” she commented.

“This will allow new businesses to take up new premises and existing businesses to change premises without the fear of having a massive rates bill hanging over them after they move in,” she concluded.