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Housing Crisis

Record low number of properties available for people accessing HAP

Only 29 properties were available to rent through the Housing Assistance Payment over the last month.

ONLY 29 PROPERTIES were available to rent for people accessing the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) over the last month, according to the Simon Communities of Ireland – the lowest since the charity began recording the numbers in 2015.

The March 2023 Locked Out of the Market report found no properties at the standard rate of HAP and only 29 properties within discretionary HAP rates. 

HAP is a form of rental benefit payment to assist lower-income households. A tenant’s main rent is paid directly to a landlord, with the tenant paying a differential rent to their local council. The tenants must cover their own deposit and no rent is paid by the council in advance of them entering the home.

Overall, the report found 672 properties were available to rent at any price within 16 areas studied over three dates surveyed in March, an 11% decrease from the 757 available in December.

70% of properties available to rent at any price were located within three Dublin areas studied, while Portlaoise had the lowest number of homes available to rent with only three properties available over the three surveyed days.

Of the properties within HAP limits, 72% were located in Dublin, which has a discretionary HAP rate of 50% compared to 35% for the rest of the country.

11 of the 16 areas surveyed had no HAP properties available to rent in any household category within standard or discretionary limits: Athlone, Cork city centre, Cork city suburbs, Galway city centre, Galway city suburbs, Co Leitrim, Limerick city suburbs, Limerick city centre, Sligo Town, Portlaoise, and Waterford.

Executive Director Wayne Stanley said it represents “the lowest ever number found since this research series began in 2015″.

“In the context of the lifting of the moratorium, these are very stark numbers. In the real world, when we look at these numbers through the lens of the people we support out of homelessness, the private rental market is no longer an option,” Stanley said.

The consequences of this have been playing out for some time with growing levels of long-term homelessness and individuals and families unsustainably topping up the payments, in order to exit or avoid homelessness.

He called on the government to reverse its decision to end the eviction ban, a move that it has faced intense scrutiny over.

“Even at this late hour, we are calling on the Government to consider reversing their decision to lift the eviction ban. Keeping the ban in place would give the Government time,” Stanley said.

“With that time, we propose that they embed tenants in situ scheme and implement the Simon Bill. This is a homeless prevention measure that targets families and individuals in the rental market who are at risk of homelessness from eviction. Enacting this Bill would prevent the need for widespread eviction bans in the future and enable protections for those more vulnerable to housing insecurity.”

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