herald

Thursday 22 August 2019

'92pc of properties for rent now above HAP scheme limit' - Simon

A rough sleeper in the city
A rough sleeper in the city

The shocking shortage of homes for low-income renters has been highlighted with 92pc of properties on one major property website not eligible for social housing support.

Simon Communities found that during a three-day test period, the vast majority of the 482 homes for rent on Daft.ie were above the limits for Rent Supplement (RS) or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

Accommodation for single occupants was particularly scarce - with just one suitable property available in Dundalk, Co Louth.

There were only three suitable properties in Dublin city centre and five in Cork city centre.

There were no properties below the limits at all in any household categories in Galway and Waterford city centres, Athlone and Sligo town.

Just one property was available to all household categories in North Kildare, Limerick city centre and Portlaoise.

The charity said that, given the low levels of supply found in its Locked Out of the Market survey, it welcomed the announcement yesterday by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) of 19 new rent pressure zones nationwide, along with new powers of investigation and sanctioning.

The limits for RS and HAP vary, according to family size and location.

The number of properties available to rent within RS/HAP limits across all study areas for a couple or a single person fell from 10 in November 2018 to just three in April 2019 - a fall of 70pc.

National spokesperson for the Simon Communities, Wayne Stanley, said the results illustrated how the lack of affordable accommodation in the private rental market was prolonging the housing crisis.

Challenges

"This Simon Communities study clearly shows the challenges faced by Rent Supplement or HAP recipients to find a home on the rental market during this crisis," he said.

"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.

"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.

"Given the critically low levels of supply found in this study, we particularly welcome today's announcement by the RTB that rent pressure zones will be extended to 19 new areas nationally.

"It's clear the total lack of an accessible private rental sector and limited social housing has driven this increase.

"For a sustainable long-term solution, Government commitment and investment in social and affordable housing is urgently needed across all tenure types nationwide," he said.

Meanwhile, the charity said rental costs in the private sector were still far too high nationwide, as the RTB Rent Index for the first three months of the year showed that average rents increased by 8.3pc.

The homelessness and housing organisation said the report showed the rental market remained under huge pressure and was struggling to cope.

The index found rents rose by an average of €90 to €1,169 nationwide and by 6.4pc annually in the Greater Dublin Area and 8.5pc in Dublin.

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