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07th Apr 2022

Number of affordable properties available to rent falls by 92% since June 2021, “stark” new report finds

Stephen Porzio

The Simon Communities of Ireland have called for the Government to take action.

A new report from The Simon Communities of Ireland has shown another stark decline in the availability of affordable properties to rent by people reliant on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.

The quarterly Locked Out report examines the experience of people on a low income and dependent on the HAP scheme to access housing in the private rental market.

On top of this, it looks at the availability of homes to rent over a three-day period in March 2022.

The report considers the availability of properties within both the standard and discretionary HAP limits in 16 areas around the country for four household categories: single person, couple, couple/one parent and one child and couple/one parent and two children.

Published on Thursday (7 April), the latest Locked Out research found that there were only 80 properties available under a standard or discretionary limit in at least one of the four categories.

The report states that this represents a drop of 46% on the 148 properties which were available within at least one HAP category in the December 2021 study and a “drastic” 92% less than the 906 available in June 2021.

There were only 737 unique properties available to rent at any price within the 16 study areas over the three dates surveyed.

This also represents a decrease of 45% from the 1,349 properties available to rent in the December 2021 Locked Out report.

A large majority of properties affordable under HAP rates in the March 2022 study were found in Dublin City, where the discretionary limits allow an additional 50% of the standard rate.

This discretion is limited to 20% in Local Authority areas outside of Dublin.

The Simon Community noted the properties that could be available to rent if the discretionary rate was increased to 50% in all Local Authorities.

This led to an additional 35 properties available across the four household types, which the report says is significant given the severe lack of HAP affordable properties outside the capital.

The latest Locked Out study found no properties available to rent in any household category within standard or discretionary HAP limits in 10 of the 16 study areas.

They included Athlone, Cork City Centre, Cork City suburbs, Galway City Centre, Kildare, Co. Leitrim, Limerick City suburbs, Limerick City Centre, Portlaoise and Waterford City Centre.

There was only one property in this study affordable for single people under standard HAP rates.

This was in Galway City Suburbs and the same property was also the only one available for a couple within standard HAP limits.

“The vast contrast between this Locked Out report and the last Locked Out report is shocking,” Head of Policy and Communications at the Simon Communities of Ireland Wayne Stanley said.

“The latest homeless figures saw 6,825 adults living in emergency homeless accommodation; the highest number of adults in homelessness ever recorded by the Department.

“These numbers must be addressed and action must be taken before the situation escalates further. We need a housing system that works for everyone.

“We want a commitment to raise discretionary HAP rates across the country to 50% and a reassessment of the standard rate given the rising cost of living and rents.

“HAP rates have remained stagnant since 2016 and rents continue to rise. Since then, the national average rent has risen by over 40%.

“This means the most vulnerable are left to pay unsustainable top-ups, putting them at risk of tenancy breakdown and homelessness.

“We need to ensure our rental market is affordable and secure so that it prevents individuals and families from being evicted into homelessness.”

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