Threshold calls for action as home ownership falls

The national housing charity has called for proper protections for renters as home ownership hits record low in Dublin

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Ireland’s national housing charity has called on the government to take action following reports that home ownership in Dublin has fallen to its lowest level since records began nearly 20 years ago.

Threshold has called for the immediate roll-out of new national rental strategy measures and the introduction of greater protections for tenants.

According to unpublished figures from the Central Statistics Office seen by the Irish Times, some 25% of Dublin residents are now renting accommodation.

The number of people who own their own home in the capital has dropped to just below 60% - down from approximately 75% when the CSO began recording the data in 2000.

Threshold chief executive, John-Mark McCafferty said the current system is, “not fit for purpose, with poor protections afforded to renters and rental costs skyrocketing at a ceaseless rate.”

“Renting your home should be a viable tenure of choice, as it is in other EU countries,” he said. “Unfortunately, it is the most expensive and least secure form of housing in this country.”

“Threshold’s frontline services are constantly dealing with the serious failings of the private rented sector and speaking to people at risk of losing their homes due to a variety of issues - including disproportionate rent increases and a shortage of supply.”

He said the current regulatory framework is “simply not acceptable” as it does not support long-term renting and does not reflect the reality of Irish society.

“While there are increasing numbers of people entering the private rented sector, supply has now come to a standstill, leading to exorbitant rents,” he said. “Many people in the sector are paying a significant portion of their income on rent and this is not sustainable.”

“The Government must act immediately to ensure that the increasing number of people living in rental accommodation are adequately protected.”

On a national level, the number of residents that own their own homes was 69.7% - down from just over 80% in 1991.

Threshold has called on the government to introduce five key measures the charity believes will help ensure households in the private rented sector have adequate protections.

  • Introduction of a Deposit Protection Scheme to protect both tenants and landlords.
  • Introduction of robust minimum standards legislation, including addressing the issue of fuel poverty.
  • Introduction of an ‘NCT’ for private rental accommodation.
  • Increased protection for licensees, such as those in the rent a room scheme.
  • Introduction of legislation to ensure that both receivers appointed to mortgaged properties and lenders who have initiated repossession proceedings are regarded as the landlord in relation to existing tenancies. 

Threshold provides advice and support for thousands of families facing housing difficulties every year and last year the charity reported a 26% rise in the number of people seeking advice and support – underlining the pressure many tenants are under.

“The need for a proper rental strategy which includes critical measures to protect tenants has never been greater,” said Mr McCafferty.

“Today’s figures show that we are no longer a nation of homeowners, and the fact that greater numbers of Irish people are now renting – whether this is intentional or not – means that the sector must be fit for purpose.

“If these issues are not addressed, we will see the number of homeless families continue to rise.”