The number of rental properties available to people on support payments has plummeted in the third quarter of the year.
According to the latest quarterly Simon Communities of Irelandreport, there was just one property available to rent for a single person within housing assistance payment (HAP) limits.
There were just 190 properties available overall under a standard or discretionary limit in at least one of the four categories — single person, couple, couple/one parent and one child, and couple/one parent and two children. That represents a decrease of 79% on the 906 properties which were available within at least one HAP category in the June study.
According to the Simon Communities: "Across all of the areas surveyed, only 1,017 properties were available to rent at any price in October. This is a decrease of 54% from the 2,208 properties which were available to rent in the June 2021report."
The quarterly reports look at the experiences of people on a low income and dependent on HAP to access housing in the private rental market and checked the availability of homes to rent over a three-day period last month. It then looks at availability in 16 areas around the country across the four household categories.
The October report found just 23 instances of properties available within standard HAP limits for at least one of the four household categories and said that in nine of the 16 areas surveyed, there were no properties available to rent in any category within standard or discretionary rent supplement/HAP limits. Those areas were Athlone, Cork City Centre, Galway City Suburbs, Leitrim, Limerick City Centre, Limerick City Suburbs, Sligo Town, Portlaoise, and Waterford City Centre.
In Cork City, there was an average of 35 properties to rent there over the course of the study period — down 65% from 102 properties just last June.
Just over three-quarters of all properties available to rent at any price were found in Dublin City, but the report shows that these areas also saw significant falling supply and availability of properties within HAP rates.
According to the report, any growth in supply evident at the start of the Covid-19 has now been completely eradicated. "As the market has started to open up following the lifting of restrictions from April 2021, there has been an unprecedented contraction in supply," it said.
The report also noted that the average rent nationally in the third quarter of this year stood at €1,516, near an all-time high.
It also gave the example of a 36-year-old man in rental accommodation informed that his rent will increase in January — and that with his current income "this will make the property unaffordable and put him at risk of homelessness".
Wayne Stanley, head of policy and communications at the Simon Communities, said: “The sharp contraction of supply, documented in this report, is likely to contribute to the rising monthly numbers of people forced to enter homelessness.
"These numbers demand that we respond with solutions that will prevent individuals and families from being evicted into homelessness. We will be calling again on Government to support the Simon prevention Bill.”