Ever-shrinking pool of properties for rent increases the risk of homelessness
Threshold advisors intervened to prevent 1,166 households from entering homelessness in Q1, 2022. In all 1,582 adults and 1,002 children were able to stay in their homes or were supported to secure alternative housing.
Given the ongoing increases in the number of people experiencing homelessness each month, Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service and home-saving interventions are a vital line of defence.
Two-thirds of Threshold clients were put at risk of homelessness in Q1 2022, when their landlord gave them a notice of termination. Just over half of these landlords sought to end the tenancy as they intended to sell the home, while 15% stated they required the home for their own use.
A landlord is permitted to end a tenancy on several grounds where there has been no wrongdoing by the tenant. The most common reason is because they wish to sell the home with no tenants in situ. While Threshold can assist a tenant to challenge an invalid notice of termination and so hold onto their home, 53% of notices were valid.
As previously reported here, this is becoming more commonplace, with thousands of landlords having left the sector in recent years. The result is an ever-shrinking pool of properties for rent, increasing the risk of homelessness for those being evicted.
Threshold is deeply concerned about this issue and has urged Government to take action to keep landlords in the sector, in particular the smaller landlords who provide most rental homes in Ireland.
Increased levels of stress & anxiety
Threshold advisors have noted the increased levels of stress and anxiety among private renters who call about a tenancy termination or to enquire about the possibility of being evicted. This has an impact on the tenant’s agency and their ability to address issues within the tenancy, for example making the decision to challenge a rent review.
Threshold chief executive John Mark McCafferty said that the problem is a growing one: “Our advisors have also noted renters have become more accepting of invalid rent increases, as they have no other housing options available to them. In fact, 60% of rent review notices brought to Threshold in this quarter were invalid.”
The cost-of-living impacts being felt
The challenges faced by private renters are compounded by the increased cost of living. in Q1 2022, rent affordability was the primary reason for renters falling into rent arrears, followed by a reduction in earnings. Of those struggling to afford rent, six out of ten were in receipt of a social welfare payment.
Threshold recommends a numbers of policy changes to assist private renters to pay their rent and address rent arrears. These include an increase in the Housing Assistance Payment limits, the provision of a rent arrears fund and a change to the legislation on rent arrears.
Profile of those assisted in early 2022
The majority of Threshold’s clients are households without children, accounting for 55% of those households assisted in Q1 2022. Four in ten however, are households with children and these households were at greater risk of homelessness. It may be that families have greater difficulty in finding a new rental home they can afford, or in the area their children attend school or creche.
In this quarter, 39% of clients assisted were aged 35 and over. The next largest cohort were aged 25-34, whereas those aged 18-24 make up a small number of Threshold clients.
“This strongly suggests that renting is no longer the transitional tenure it once was, but that people are renting for longer and some for life,” according to John Mark McCafferty
“This raises concerns over people’s long-term security and ability to afford rent as they age. Steps have been taken to increase security of tenure through the creation of indefinite tenancies, however, more is required. In the short-term, steps can be taken to keep landlords in the sector and to incentivise long-term leases, while more secure and affordable housing options come on stream.”