Calls for State intervention as rents hit record high

There were numerous calls this week for State action on the rental market, as the latest research showed rent inflation across the country has hit a new high.

In Galway city, rents have risen by 16.4 per cent in the last year and the average rent is now €1,663, according to the latest Daft.ie rental report. In County Galway, market rents were on average 12.4 per cent higher in the second quarter of 2022 compared to last year. The average listed rent is now €1,184, up 132 per cent from its lowest point.

Market rents in the country as a whole during the second quarter of 2022 were an average of 12.6 per cent higher than the same period a year earlier, with the average market rent nationwide between April and June at €1,618 per month, up 3.3 per cent on the first three months of the year.

Meanwhile the availability of homes to rent has hit an all-time low, with just 716 homes available to rent throughout the country on August 1, down from almost 2,500 a year ago.

The Galway Advertiser's classified website, classifieds.advertiser.ie, listed just 25 homes in its property to let section this week.

"The shortage of rental accommodation translates directly into higher market rents and this can only be addressed by significantly increased supply," warned Ronan Lyons, associate professor of economics at Trinity College Dublin and author of the Daft report. "While there are almost 115,000 proposed rental homes in the pipeline, these are concentrated in the Dublin area. Further, while nearly 23,000 are under construction, the remainder are earlier in the process and the growth of legal challenges to new developments presents a threat to addressing the rental scarcity.”

Housing charity Threshold has called for State intervention to bring relief for private renters facing spiraling costs and a shortage of homes. The charity also highlighted the news that almost 3,000 private renters have received notices to quit in the first half of this year, while the number of adults and children experiencing homelessness has exceeded 10,000.

"These sustained rent increases continue despite the fact that approximately three-quarters of tenancies are located in Rent Pressure Zones, where annual increases are capped at two per cent," the charity said in a statement this week. "Threshold notes a total disregard of the rules by certain landlords, and that private renters should not be expected to pay unlawful rent increases."

Enhanced supports

The organisation also pointed out that rental costs will have a particularly adverse impact on students, with the cheapest rents exceeding what a student could expect to earn from the SUSI grant and part-time work. It has warned students to beware of scams as a result of this, and advises to visit the property, check the keys work, and verify the authenticity of the accommodation provider before committing financially.

“Threshold hopes to see enhanced supports for renters in the forthcoming Budget, as well as tax changes for landlords which are linked to improved security of tenure for tenants and their families,” said Threshold chief executive, John-Mark McCafferty.

Renters can contact Threshold for advice at freephone 1800 454 454 or threshold.ie/advice

Sinn Féin representatives in Galway have also called for action, with former city councillor Mark Lohan branding it a "testament to the complete failure by Government to manage this part of our economy".

"Every Galway citizen deserves to have security of tenure, deserves to be able to rent or buy depending on their income, and deserves to have the opportunity to have a minimum standard of housing that is decent, safe, and secure," he said.

"We have rolled out a very feasible plan in the North for 100,000 homes over the next decade. It is a funded and working plan. We can do the same in this part of our country with our already published and costed plan. We have shown how reform in the private rental market coupled with a real build of public housing on public lands can start to turn things around. The upcoming budget will see us put forward additional alternatives that are also fully costed."

Meanwhile Galway East Sinn Féin representative Louis O’Hara warned that the Government "has lost control of the housing market".

“Rents were already far too high and too many people here in Galway are trapped by the housing crisis and locked out of owning their own home," he warned. "This is a very worrying crisis and people cannot afford to continue paying these spiraling costs.

“Workers and families on ordinary incomes here cannot afford to fork out these huge sums for rent every month, when they are already struggling with a cost of living crisis that is seeing their bills soar. Every day, people are contacting me looking for help with this crisis, including young families stuck in cramped houses that they are paying through the nose for, and young people living at home with their families while they anxiously watch house prices creep further and further out of their reach.

“It is clear that Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien and the Government have lost control of the housing market.

Budget 2023

"Budget 2023 next month is the Minister's last chance to make the level of change required to fix our deepening housing crisis," Mr O'Hara added. "We need a dramatic increase in funding to deliver 20,000 social and affordable homes every year for the next decade. We need emergency action to reduce homelessness and slow down the disorderly exit of landlords from the private rental sector.”

“The Government’s failure to fix the housing crisis is devastating the lives of renters in Galway who are forced to pay the price for their inaction. Sinn Féin have outlined the solutions needed to tackle the housing crisis and it’s time for Government to act on them.”

 

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