New survey reveals just 6% are renting by choice - Threshold report

Press Releases
  • 74% of survey respondents struggling to pay bills and household expenses after paying rent
  • 53% feel insecure in their home
  • 42% had rent increases in the last year

Over a half of renters who participated in Threshold’s We Are Generation Rent survey are renting because they cannot afford to buy their own home, according to the latest report from the national housing charity. The annual survey – which gives a voice to the experiences of Threshold users in the private rental sector – also shows that 74% of those surveyed struggle to pay bills and other household expenses after rent – up from 59% just 12 months ago.

The findings paint a picture of unaffordability and insecurity for many respondents. Just 6% of those surveyed are renting by choice – a significant decrease compared to 17% from last year. Furthermore, 88% of respondents have found it extremely difficult to find rental accommodation – a rise of 16% on 2023 – pointing to the challenges faced by those reliant on the rental market. This is the seventh consecutive year of the survey.

Security of tenure

Feelings of insecurity in tenure have increased year-on-year, with more than half (53%) of respondents in 2024, stating that they feel insecure or very insecure in their accommodation. This is an increase from 48% last year, and 44% in 2022.

Launching the report, Steven Matthews, TD and Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage said:

“There will always be a need for a viable rental sector for people who choose that over home ownership for a variety of reasons, but this should be through choice – rather than necessity – as is the situation faced by many who contributed to this report. Tenancies need to be secure, affordable and meet proper health and wellbeing standards. The development of the cost rental sector is key in providing security and affordability.

“I welcome any research carried out to ensure we are making the right decisions on the most critical immediate issue we face in housing supply and affordability…and I want to acknowledge the extraordinary work Threshold do in helping people across the country who face challenges in accessing suitable accommodation.” Commenting on the research, Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty said:

“Our 2024 We are Generation Rent survey findings are important as they provide an insight into Threshold’s clients’ tenancy experiences. The year-on-year results give an indication of the high levels of insecurity experienced by renters. Almost half of those surveyed have lived in more than four different rental properties, while renting in Ireland. The unaffordability and unavailability of rental options are being experienced by both those in, or seeking, private rental housing. This is preventing people from establishing a stable and safe home”.

Other challenges

The survey also highlights other key challenges encountered by these renters, with 54% of respondents feeling uncomfortable contacting their landlord about issues with standards in the home. When these are raised, just over one quarter of those who reported issues had them resolved. Close to 70% of respondents had experienced issues with poor standards in the home, with damp and mould and shower/water-related issues being among the most common.

On a positive note, three-quarters felt their knowledge of rental rights and responsibilities was good or very good, and 60% said that their knowledge of how they can bring a complaint or lodge a dispute with the RTB (Residential Tenancies Board) was either good or very good. Just over two-thirds (67%) said that their knowledge of how their landlord could end their tenancy was either good or very good.

Affordability

Affordability also remains a top issue for renters. The survey found that 42% of respondents had experienced a rent increase in the past year and that 74% struggle to pay bills and other household expenses after paying rent. A minority of those surveyed availed of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) or rent supplement, but nearly three quarters of this cohort had to add a top-up payment to make their rent.

One respondent, who rents as part of a two-parent family, commented: If we could catch a break and be able to build up our savings, we’d love to own a home; we are stressed at how long the process will be, even after having the money, and at how unlikely it will be to stay in our area.”

Key policy recommendations

The findings of Threshold’s 2024 We are Generation Rent survey shows that renters can face many challenges, yet the private rental sector is critical in terms of accommodation provision. To address some of these issues, the housing charity has set out several key policy recommendations.

These include the move toward a ‘unitary’ housing system, such as in Sweden, in which much larger social-  and cost-rental housing provision is accessible to a larger number of households across a broader range of incomes. This creates competition for the private rental sector, which can compel it to become more competitive, with increased value for money and greater security.  Threshold also advocates for the ongoing expansion of the tenant-in-situ scheme and cost-rental, the improved enforcement of minimum standards, rent regulation, and introducing a constitutional right to housing.

Commenting on the recommendations, John-Mark McCafferty said:

“Our recommendations are based on creating a more equal housing market that is accessible to all and that protects renters. By moving to a unitary housing system, we can ensure that affordable housing is available for all, regardless of social status or background. By increasing the role of non-profit housing in the market, we can boost housing stocks, and ensure that as many people as possible have access to secure, affordable housing.

“Nobody should go without a safe and secure home. By implementing these changes, we can help build the sense of security and dignity that so many of our clients need.”

Threshold’s helpline is open Monday to Friday, 9am- 9pm at 1800 454 454, with webchat at www.threshold.ie/advice/help for any renter in need of advice or support.

Read the full report here.

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