The Government has been urged to step up implementation of its action plan on housing and homelessness after the latest Daft.ie report showed spiralling rental costs have now outstripped levels last seen in the boom.
The Daft.ie rental report for the second quarter of the year showed rents have risen nationally by 11% year-on-year in a marketplace in which there were 20% fewer homes for rent than on August 1 last year.
Rents also rose by 3.9% between April and June, the largest three-month increase since 2007, meaning the average monthly rent is now at its highest level on record.
Rents in Dublin are now 5.2% higher than the previous peak in early 2008, while rents rose 18% in Cork city over a year.
Data shows that rents have soared in the commuter town of Ballincollig, and have also increased in the city centre and in areas such as Rochestown and Blackrock. The pattern is repeated elsewhere, with rents in Galway 13.9% higher than a year ago, while Limerick saw a 15.5% rise in the year.
David Carroll, director of services for Depaul, said the figures highlighted the need for urgent action.
“On a daily basis across our Dublin homeless services, we are seeing more and more people present as homeless because they cannot afford to rent in Dublin. This includes young people, families, single people and couples, people who are working, and pregnant women,” he said.
“Due to a number of factors, including a stall in construction and retrenchment in the social housing budget during the recession, Ireland is in the midst of a crippling housing and homelessness crisis. With demand for housing far outstripping supply, we are in a situation where rents have surpassed their 2008 peak and this is having a knock-on effect on homelessness.
“With the average cost of renting a double room in Dublin city centre at €682 and the average cost of renting a home in this area at €1,505, it is unsurprising that more and more people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.”
National housing charity Threshold expressed alarm at the rising rents outside Dublin and in the capital.
Threshold manager in Dublin, Stephen Large, said: “The Daft.ie report confirms that, while previously double-digit annual rent inflation was primarily a Dublin phenomenon, this has now become the norm nationally.
“The rate of increase shows no sign of slowing any time soon, and rents are becoming increasingly unaffordable for many tenants. In extreme cases, rent increases can lead to tenancy breakdown or even homelessness.”
Mr Large said recent changes to the law, which meant rents could only be increased once in any 24- month period, were welcome. However, he said “further measures are necessary to regulate rent increases to make the private rented sector a viable housing option”. Threshold has proposed other rent certainty measures.
While Niamh Randall of the Simon Communities said she was not surprised at the latest rental figures, the Irish Property Owners Association said tax breaks should be introduced to incentivise landlords, including those who have left the market.
Meanwhile, Dublin City Council and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive confirmed the cost of hotel accommodation for homeless families for the first six months of this year was just over €16m, the highest ever half-yearly figure. Earlier this year, Housing Minister Simon Coveney said the annual spend on hotel accommodation was €46m.
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