Families on the brink amid rent hikes

Thousands of families have been forced into homelessness as record high rental costs and a drastic lack of housing supply is pushing families to the brink.

According to the last Daft.ie rental report for the second quarter of this year, the trend of skyrocketing rents right around the country shows no sign of abating, while the number of properties available to rent has reached an all-time low.

The report reveals rents rose across the country by an average of 11.8% in the year to June, while the average monthly rent during the second quarter of this year was a record high of €1,159. This is the fifth quarter in a row that a new high has been set.

Rents are rising in Dublin faster than anywhere else in the country. In the year to June, rents in the capital rose 12.3% and are now over 18% (or €260) higher than their previous peak during the boom in 2008. The average is now €1,741.

In Cork City, rents rose by 6.8% in the year to June and now stand at €1,122. In Galway, rents are averaging at €1,026 — up 10% on 2016. This is the 11th straight quarter of double-digit increases in the city.

In Limerick, the average rent is up 10.8% in the past year and stands at €919, while in Waterford rents jumped by 8.4% to €772 while outside of the cities, rents have increased by just under 12% to €824.

In Munster as a whole, rents outside the three cities rose by 3.5% between March and June, and are just 1% below Celtic Tiger peaks.

Much of the reason for the ever-increasing trend in rent costs is the lack of available properties.

There were just 2,930 properties available to rent across the country at the beginning of this month — the lowest ever recorded, in a series that dates to January 2006. It is also the first time that fewer than 3,000 homes have been available to rent.

In Dublin, there were just 1,100 homes available to rent, compared to 2,000 on the same date in 2014. Across Munster, there were fewer than 700 homes were available to rent on August 1 — the lowest since early 2006.

Economist at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and author of the report, Ronan Lyons, said the latest hikes were “unsurprising” given the lack of supply and said it would make things extremely difficult for new university students looking for accommodation next month.

“The start of the academic year in September traditionally meant that July and August are two of the busiest months for the rental market each year. In the last two years, however, there has been no summer rush of properties to rent. In a market with such chronically deficient supply, it is therefore unsurprising to see rents reach a new high.

“While rent controls may help sitting tenants, they make the market even tougher for those looking for a new home. The rental market remains in severe distress due to a lack of supply and thus the appropriate policy response is to boost supply of all forms. This includes purpose-built student accommodation. Based on demographics and other factors, Dublin alone needs a block of 300 student beds approved every month until the late 2020s,” he said.

Focus Ireland advocacy manager Roughan Mac Namara the figures revealed how bleak the situation is for thousands of children who are homeless as they prepare to return to school while living in emergency accommodation. “As September approaches up to 1,800 children are preparing to return to primary or secondary school and many are from families forced into homelessness by the rental crisis. This situation is really impacting on them as children and on their education. It is fundamentally wrong this is being allowed to happen,” he said.

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