The Simon Communities have said that rental costs in the private sector are still far too high.
According to the latest Rent Index from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) released today, average rents increased by 8.3% (€90) in January to March this year compared to the same period in 2018.
The Rent Index sees 19 new rent pressure zones (RPZs) announced across 11 counties.
The Simon Communities have welcomed the extension of the RPZs but said that given the growth in rents above the 4% cap in areas including Dublin, Cork, Galway and more over the year "it is clear the RPZ controls need to be enhanced".
"This RTB report highlights why so many people are struggling to afford to stay in the rental market," said Wayne Stanley, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities.
"An 8.3% increase in average rents is beyond the reach of too many. The current cost of rent, particularly in urban areas, has a serious impact on people’s standard of living.
Too many individuals and families presenting to Simon have been forced to forego essentials such as heating, food, in order to keep a roof over their own heads and that of their families.
Mr Stanley said that rent certainty and security of tenure were two measures that could be taken to improve the situation.
"Ultimately, however, this report and others underline the reality that the private sector is not designed to deliver the level of affordable housing needed."
Mr Stanley called for "braver policy choices" to be made.
"An ambitious roll-out of affordable ‘cost rental’ housing will provide both a social and economic dividend in the medium to long term.”
"In the interim, the level of support offered through the HAP system will have to be increased to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected to some degree from the housing crisis.”
The Simon Communities also released their latest Locked Out of the Market study today.
It found that 92% of all properties available to rent during the three-day study period - April 2-4, 2019 - were above Rent Supplement (RS)/Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits.
According to the study, Galway City Centre, Waterford City Centre, Athlone and Sligo town had no rented properties available for any household category on dates surveyed, while just one property was available in all household categories in North Kildare, Limerick City Centre and Portlaoise.
There were three suitable properties found in Dublin City Centre and five in Cork City Centre.
The ‘Locked Out’ series reviews the number of properties advertised to rent in 11 areas on Daft.ie within the Department of Social Protection Rent Supplement (RS) limits and Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) HAP limits.
"It is alarming that in some of the country’s most populated urban centres, there is absolutely nowhere for people looking to rent on HAP to live, particularly for singles," said Mr Stanley.
"Single people and families looking for one and two bedroom homes are facing a huge challenge in many parts of the country. Availability of tenure type needs to be addressed urgently."
Other key findings from the study show: