Rent crisis: 1,000 people view Cork city home available for €2,750 a month

Letting agents struggle to cope with demand as report finds number of private renters relying on State supports has doubled since 1994
Rent crisis: 1,000 people view Cork city home available for €2,750 a month

One property offered for rent in Cork City yesterday at €2,750 per month had attracted close to 1,000 views by yesterday evening.

Letting agents in Munster are advertising rental properties online for just one hour due to the overwhelming response from desperate house hunters.

One property offered for rent in Cork City yesterday at €2,750 per month had attracted close to 1,000 views by yesterday evening.

Within the first hour of a property being advertised for rent in Limerick, up to 100 enquiries are received, with letting offices unable to handle the deluge.

“We have to take down properties after the first hour because we literally cannot handle the volume of enquiries,” said Tony Wallace, head of property management at Rooney Auctioneers in Limerick city.

“We have to be very strategic in when we put it up so that we are ready for the phone to ring, because it rings almost immediately,” said Mr Wallace.

Mr Wallace said there is a lack of one- and two-bedroom properties in Limerick City centre.

Mark Rose of Rose Property Services in Cork told the Irish Examiner that properties in Cork City costing under €1,000 are not even being advertised, as word of mouth means they are filled immediately.

The city’s first cost-rental apartment scheme will open later this year at Lancaster Gate, with rent for a one-bed property priced at €990. Developed by Cluid, the approved housing body (AHB), the 73 cost-rental homes represent the first batch of a total of 750 planned for the city.

Mark Rose of Rose Property Services in Cork told the Irish Examiner that properties in Cork City costing under €1,000 are not even being advertised, as word of mouth means they are filled immediately. Picture: Larry Cummins
Mark Rose of Rose Property Services in Cork told the Irish Examiner that properties in Cork City costing under €1,000 are not even being advertised, as word of mouth means they are filled immediately. Picture: Larry Cummins

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould criticised the pricing structure, saying the rent will cost up to 60% of the tenants’ incomes, when the recommended proportion is no more than 33%.

Meanwhile, new figures released by the Economic and Social Research Institute yesterday showed that more than half of renting households rely on some form of State support.

Almost 293,673 households received subsidies for their housing costs in 2020, up from 134,973 in 1994.

This works out at 16% of households overall and 54% of renters.

Since the last figures were compiled in 1994, supports have shifted from housing being provided by local authorities and approved housing bodies, towards subsidising costs in the private rental sector.

A combination of housing assistance payment (Hap), rental accommodation scheme (Ras) and rent supplement are used to assist one in three supported renters today, compared to one in five in the early 1990s. 

The remaining supported renters are in ‘traditional’ social housing provided by local authorities or approved housing bodies. 

The report finds that both direct and indirect supports do a “huge amount” to improve affordability for the households receiving them.

The median rent-to-income ratio for supported renters is just under half of what it is for unsupported renters, after controlling for dwelling type, location, and quality.

However, it identifies issues with how well targeted these housing supports are.

Many low-income renters receive no support for their housing costs and face high rent-to-income ratios, researchers found, while almost one in five supported renters are in the top half of the income distribution.

Qualification criteria for housing supports have become more restrictive in recent years, they said, with share of households eligible to apply for housing supports falling from 46.8% to 33.9% between 2011 and 2019, “largely because of a freeze to most income limits”.

This means that the rent limits for Hap cover a very small share of properties, the report says, particularly in cities for single adults.

Across Dublin, only 6% of one-bedroom tenancies registered in 2020 came under the maximum rent allowed for single adults claiming Hap, while only seven out of 31 local authorities had at least a quarter of one-bedroom tenancies below the limits.

“This is in part because rents for new tenancies increased by 24% between 2017 — when these rent limits were last revised — and 2020, but it also reflects differences in coverage across counties when introduced.

“There is substantial variation across local authorities in the level of support provided to otherwise identical households: more than nine in 10 supported renters have their rent contributions — and so their level of support — determined by their local authority’s differential rent scheme.”

These vary hugely in their design across local authorities, leading otherwise identical households to receive different levels of support.

For example, a lone parent with two children earning €25,000 per year would pay a contribution of just €226 per month in South Dublin County Council, €313 per month in Donegal, but €450 per month in Meath.

Barra Roantree, one of the authors of the report, said it raises questions about how well targeted these supports are.

Asked if the provision of Hap could continue indefinitely, Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said that the payment would provided as needed for those who cannot afford rents, but the Government believes that an increase in housing supply would address the “core of the problem”.

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