Growing gap between rental costs and social welfare

The number of rental properties on the market has increased

Growing gap between rental costs and social welfare

Ministers launch the Government's new Housing Action Plan at the Government Press Centre in 2016 | Image: RollingNews

A new report has found that just 17% of properties available to rent are within the reach of rent supplements.

The Simon Community say just five properties were available to rent across all locations within rent supplement limits for a single person - while the same number were available for a couple.

The number of rental properties on the market has increased since August 2016.

But the number available to people in receipt of state housing payments actually dropped from 20% to 17% of all properties.

The homeless group also say there is a growing gap between rent supplements offered and the market rent.

Conducted over three consecutive days in November, Simon says the 'Locked Out of the Market VI' study highlights the extent of shrinking private rented supply - and the growing gap between rising rents and rent supplement.

This is the sixth time the Simon Communities have undertaken this study.

Rents continued to increase nationally during Quarter 3 2016, according to Daft.ie, by an average of 3.9% between July and September - matching the largest quarterly increase on record.

The study found that there were 643 properties to rent over the November 2016 snapshot period in 10 locations.

This is a fall of 44% from 1,150 homes available to rent in May 2015 when the first study was undertaken.

'No properties in Portlaoise'

Niamh Randall, national spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland, said: "2016 saw significant shifts in policy but ongoing action is required to ensure a meaningful impact on the lives of people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.

"The increase in rent supplement/HAP limits in July last year were very welcome and a clear recognition of the pressure so many households are under to meet rising rental payments.

"Already there has been a drop in the number of properties available to people within these limits since our last study in August 2016.

"People who are single and couples fared particularly badly with only five properties available across the 10 locations falling within rent supplement/HAP limits for a single person.

"This was a decrease of three properties since the previous report. Only five properties were available for a couple, a decrease of six properties since the last study.

"There were no properties available within any of the limits in Portlaoise. Just one property was available to rent within all of the four categories in two of the locations: Sligo town and North Kildare. What we are seeing is that the impact of the increased limits varies from region to region".

Ms Randall says there remains an urgent need for full rent certainty and enhanced security of tenure.

‘What is clear is that the combination of increasing rents and decreasing property availability is reducing the beneficial impact of RS/HAP payments for people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness and those on low incomes."

It comes as figures have revealed that the number of homeless people in Ireland has risen above 7,000 for the first time.