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Over 80% of rents are too expensive for people on housing benefits

The snapshot from the Simon Community finds private rented supply down 44% since May 2015.

Image: Dominic Lipinski

THE MAJORITY OF properties available to rent are priced beyond the reach of people dependent on state housing benefits, a snapshot study by the Simon Communities in Ireland has found.

83% of rental properties are priced beyond the upper limit for the Rent Supplement (RS) and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

This leaves just 17% of all properties available to rent within the RS and HAP limits for the four categories included in the study, which looked at 643 properties in 11 different areas across the country.

The average monthly rent for a one-bed property in Dublin City Centre, for example, was €1,900 across 260 rentals. That compares with a RS/HAP rental limit of €660.

Between July and September last year, the average rent price rose by 3.9% from €1,037 to €1,077, matching the largest quarterly increase on record.

Supply

The report also found that there were 643 properties to rent over the November 2016 period in ten locations. This is a fall of 44% from 1,150 homes available to rent in May 2015.

shutterstock_241164931 Source: Shutterstock/Zerbor

Only five of these properties were available to rent for a single person within Rent Supplement/Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits and only five properties were also available to couples within these limits over the three-day study period.

The number of rental properties on the market has increased since the August 2016 study, however critically/crucially the number available to people in receipt of state housing payments decreased from 20% to just 17% of all properties, indicating a growing gap between RS and HAP limits and the market rent.

In Portlaoise, there were no properties available to rent – a finding that was mirrored in three previous reports by the Simon Community.

Plugging the gap

“Already there has been a drop in the number of properties available to people within these limits since our last study in August 2016,” says Niamh Randall from the Simon Community.

Just one property was available to rent within all of the four categories in two of the locations; Sligo town and North Kildare. What we are seeing is that the impact of the increased limits varies from region to region.

She added that there was an urgent need for full rent certainty and enhanced security of tenure.

shutterstock_366578660 Source: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

“We continue to call for full rent certainty with rent linked to the Consumer Price Index and enhanced security of tenure.”

Rent predictability measures are welcome, particularly the designation of Cork City and the four Dublin Local Authorities as Rent Pressure Zones.

Rent predictability must be extended as a matter of priority to other areas experiencing continued rent increases, we look forward to the imminent Housing Agency report which it is anticipated will identify 15 additional areas.

Single housing units

She added that single people and couples must be specifically catered for, given the disproportionate impact benefit limits are having on access to affordable housing.

“44% of those on the social housing waiting list are single (40,342 households) and 2,794 of those in emergency accommodation are recorded as single people without dependents.”

She urged that the government’s housing plan be implemented as quickly as possible in order to keep people in their homes.

The Simon Communities deliver supports and services to over 8,300 people and families who experience or are at risk of homelessness every year.

Conducted between 28-30 November, the report, called Locked Out of the Market VI: The Gap Between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents is the sixth study of its kind conducted by the Simon Communities.

Read: A new ‘niche’ lender for property investors is tipped to compete with the banks

Read: Property prices will rise in 2017 – with the biggest increases just outside Dublin

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