OVER 90% OF homes for rent in Ireland are beyond the reach of people dependent on state housing benefits, a Simon Communities study has found.
The charity has said that increases in Rent Supplement (RS) and HAP limits introduced in July 2016 are no longer effective.
The Locked Out of the Market XI snapshot study, published today, found that there were just 8% of properties available on the market to rent (41 properties) were within the RS and HAP limits.
HAP is a form of rental benefit payment to assist lower-income households.
Under HAP, 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.
The study found that there one or no properties available within the RS or HAP limits in eight out of the 11 study areas.
The study was undertaken over three consecutive days between 1 and 3 May 2018.
It also found that there were just 530 properties available to rent with no income limits across the 11 locations examined.
This is a decrease of 54% when compared with the first Locked Out of the Market study in May 2015 when there were 1,150 properties available. In March 2017, 600 properties were available.
‘Nowhere to go’
Niamh Randall, national spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland said that it is nearly impossible for people, particularly single people, to move on from emergency accommodation and homeless services because “there is nowhere for them to go”.
“Many people in emergency accommodation are there because they have already lost their rented home. So many households are ‘hidden homeless’ doubling and tripling up with friends and relatives living with daily uncertainty, some not knowing where they will sleep tonight, next week or next month,” she said.
People just cannot compete within this rental market – it’s really unfair.
Looking further into the figures, the study found that there were just four properties available to rent within RS and RAP limits across all study areas for a single person. This represents an increase of one property since February 2018.
These properties were located in Athlone (1), Dundalk (2) and Sligo (1).
Four properties were available to rent within RS and HAP limits across all 11 areas for a couple over the course of the study, representing an increase of one property since February 2018.
These properties were in Cork City Centre (2) and Dundalk (2).
Of particular concern, the charity said, no properties were available to rent in Galway City Centre, Limerick City Centre and Portlaoise across all four-study categories.
To combat the issues surrounding rent availability, Randall said that Rent Pressure Zones “must be extended and enforced where they already exist”.
“The government must increase Rent Supplement and HAP limits to allow single people, couples and families in receipt of these payments to compete fairly,” she said.
“Nearly half a million households rent their home. Without full rent certainty and security of tenure they cannot have peace of mind.”
The Simon Communities deliver supports and services to over 11,000 people and families who experience or at risk of homelessness every year.
The full report can be found here.