Only 3% of private rentals available to Hap-dependent households, Simon report finds

Government needs to deliver at least 15,000 social housing homes for rent each year, says Simon Communities chief

Just 38 rental properties, across 16 areas, were available to households dependent on the housing assistance payment (Hap) last month, a report published on Monday indicates.

The Locked Out of the Market report, released quarterly by the Simon Communities, finds just 3 per cent of homes to rent in the private market were available to Hap-dependent households – down from 4 per cent in 2023, 8 per cent in 2022 and more than a quarter (28 per cent) in 2021.

The report series examines the rental market in representative areas and counts the total number of private rented properties available.

This latest report, which looked at availability on March 11th, 12th and 13th, found 1,180 properties available “to rent at any price” in Dublin city centre and south and north city; Cork city centre and suburbs; Limerick city centre and suburbs; Galway city centre and suburbs; Waterford city centre; Sligo town; Co Leitrim; Athlone; Portlaoise; Kildare; and Dundalk.

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Although this is a 3 per cent increase from the 1,149 properties available in December, and a 77 per cent increase since March last year, there were significant regional disparities.

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More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of the homes were in the three Dublin areas, while eight areas saw a decline in properties available at any price – Cork city centre (-13 properties), Cork city suburbs (minus one property), Dublin city centre (-21 properties), Dundalk (-10 properties), Galway city suburbs (-19 properties), Galway city centre (minus two properties), Limerick city centre (minus seven properties) and Sligo town (minus three properties).

Kildare saw a significant increase of 32 available rental properties. Dublin city south increased by 43 properties, and Dublin city north increased by 13.

Similar regional disparities are evident in the supply of homes within Hap limits, with 84 per cent (34) in Dublin area and just three areas outside Dublin with any properties available to households dependent on Hap. Ten of the 16 areas had no homes available for Hap-dependent households. These were Cork city centre, Waterford city centre, Limerick city centre and suburbs, Sligo town, Leitrim, Galway city centre and suburbs, Athlone and Portlaoise.

To qualify for Hap a household must qualify for social housing. To qualify for social housing and Hap, households must have incomes below certain limits. For a single person the limit is between €30,000 and €40,000, depending on where in the country they are. The maximum rent a Hap household can pay also varies, depending on the local authority area and household size. In Dublin the maximum for a family with two children is €1,275 a month; in Galway €875; and in Leitrim €475. The maximum a couple without children, on Hap, can pay per month is €900 in Dublin, €650 in Galway and €450 in Leitrim.

There can be “discretionary increases” on these limits of up to 35 per cent where the household is homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness. The 38 properties available within the Hap limit include those within discretionary uplift limit. There were only three properties across all 16 areas available within the standard limit – in Dublin city south and north and in Kildare.

Looking at different household types, there was no home available to couple/one-parent households with one child within the standard Hap rates and 15 properties within the discretionary Hap rates. For families with two children there were no properties available within the standard Hap rates and 22 properties available through discretionary Hap. For a single person or couple with no children three properties were available within the standard Hap rate and 13 through discretionary Hap.

Wayne Stanley, executive director of Simon Communities, welcomed the “recognition of the need for greater ambition on housing by Taoiseach Simon Harris” but added: “We now need his Government to outline how this new ambition will be delivered. A critical element of any successful plan that will help to address homelessness should include the delivery of at least 15,000 social housing homes for rent each year. In the short term, we need to see Hap rates increased, but this is not a long-term sustainable solution. The answer is more social and affordable housing,” he said.

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