Charity calls for review of private rented sector, saying Ireland needs to move out of “permanent housing crisis”
The findings from Daft.ie’s Q2 2021 rent report are startling. The private rented market has “exceeded “business as usual expectations as we leave the Covid-19 health restrictions behind,” said CEO of Threshold, John-Mark McCafferty. “Record-high increases in Connacht and Ulster of almost 15%, equally high increases in Munster and rents in Leinster almost 50% higher than the Celtic Tiger peaks, are leaving young workers and families behind.”
Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold said: “Renters are unable to keep up with these relentless rent increases. A minimum wage worker employed part-time in Galway or Cork City will spend over half their wages to rent a single room in a shared house. These are usually the workers who cannot work from home – given the nature of their work, often in services sectors – and do not have the option to move away from the urban centres in search of a more affordable home.
“Yet that same worker could potentially pay marginally less on a mortgage for a one-bed apartment, which would provide them with their own space, privacy and security of tenure. The shocking reality that it is cheaper to service a mortgage than rent a home is now the norm across the country.
“The private market has proven it is unable to provide affordable homes. The onus is on the State to step in and take the leading role in this. Earlier this year, the ESRI set out how the Government can borrow the necessary funds to deliver 18,000 units or more a year. This has to be the policy going forward, with multi-annual funding and a 20-year housing strategy, if Ireland is to ever move out of this permanent housing crisis.
“Until such a time that this occurs, rent regulation will be necessary and will need to be expanded. Renters currently living outside the Rent Pressure Zones need protection from these extraordinary increases. Such year-on-year rises include, for example, the 16.5% increase in Kerry, 16.1% increase in Roscommon, 15.8% increase in Mayo and 14.8% increase in Clare – all of which occurred in the last 12 months.
“While the issue of affordability is key and should be addressed urgently, the number of landlords opting to leave the sector is currently the single biggest contributor to rental evictions. The entire private rented sector must be comprehensively reviewed: we need to be asking the basic questions such as, who should be living in the sector, under what conditions and for how long? Only by asking these questions will we find the solutions to how rental housing can be delivered into the future: how the sector can become affordable and sustainable.”
The difficulty facing renters in Ireland is illustrated by the story of Mayah, her husband Rob and their three children. Mayah contacted Threshold in 2020 to ask if her landlord was permitted to increase their rent by €200, an incredible 31% increase. Unfortunately, the family do not live in a Rent Pressure Zone and so different rules apply. The family felt they had no choice but to pay as there was very little available to rent elsewhere and they didn’t feel confident enough to negotiate with the landlord.