Irelands rental market: ‘It’s the Wild West out there’

Rent has increased by 100% in Ireland since 2010.
Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

11.50 16 Jan 2024

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Irelands rental market: ‘It’s...

Irelands rental market: ‘It’s the Wild West out there’

Robert Kindregan
Robert Kindregan

11.50 16 Jan 2024

Share this article

Ireland’s rental market is like ‘the wild west,’ according to a student union vice president.

University of Galway’s Izzy Tiernan shared her recent struggles of finding a home on a housing panel discussion on The Pat Kenny Show today.

It comes as Eurostat found rents have soared 100% in Ireland since 2010 – the third-highest increase of all EU member states during this time.


Ms Tiernan said landlords are now out of control in Ireland.

“I have students coming to me every single day from digs and landlords kicking them out, taking property – It’s the Wild West out there,” she said.

“Cowboy landlords are taking as much money as they want because digs are not regulated and what we need is digs regulation.

"We need the Government to build affordable accommodation as there is accommodation out there but is priced just far too expensive.”

rents up 100% in Ireland A graph showing rent growth across EU member states since 2010. Image: Eurostat

Ms Tiernan said she also narrowly escaped a recent brush with homelessness.

“I got stuck in accommodation that was covered in mould, that wasn’t suited for a student to be living in or anyone to be living in,” she said.

“I was a week out from having to stay in a hostel and I was incredibly lucky with where I found in the end.

“If it wasn’t through social media and knowing people through connections then I never would have found someone in the end.”

Leaving the market

Director of the Flynn & Associates estate agency, Andrew Rafter, said the problem is landlords are leaving the market.

“The reality is that the domestic landlord was probably underestimated and let leave the market at an incredible pace,” he said.

“These homes are then bought by homeowners which is the good news story at the end of it.

“When a landlord decides to sell in this market it's usually because perhaps the agreed rent was at a level substantially lower than market rents.

“It comes to a point where a landlord decides that this no longer makes sense for them financially to be in it.”

Mr Rafter said this was mainly due to Rent Pressure Zones, but there are other market issues too.

“It does come back down to the importance of the level of supply we see,” he said.

“If we look at December 1st, 2023, there were 11,100 units listed for sale nationally - In 2019 it was 24,200.

“We’re probably seeing a bit of a frenzy at the moment where people are encouraged to jump at whatever available unit, they can potentially secure.”


For housing analyst Lorcan Sirr, who is a lecturer at TU Dublin, the issue of high rents is often misunderstood.

“The first problem is the use of the Government of the private rental sector for what would have been for people who traditionally got social housing – HAP basically,” he said.

“They’re spending about half a billion euros a year on putting an awful lot of people into the private rental sector and therefore squeezing opportunities for everyone else to use the private rental sector.

“Another big issue is there are about 400,000 tenants in the private rental sector who don’t want to be there – they want to be homeowners.”

Mr Sirr said an “obsession” with high-density housing schemes in Ireland was contributing to the issue.

“Building high is very expensive so what comes out the other end is also going to be very expensive in terms of rent,” he said.

“I think the obsession with density needs to be diluted hugely to get down to a reasonable level of three- and four-story apartment blocks that are affordable to build, sell and rent.”

The Government is currently hoping to exceed its target of constructing 33,450 homes this year.

Main image: Newly constructed homes in a housing estate development in Mullingar County Westmeath. Image: David Lyons / Alamy Stock Photo

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