Latest: Sinn Féin want general election if housing crisis not dealt with

Update 11.55am: If the government will not properly deal with the housing crisis there should be a general election, according to Sinn Féin.

The comments come as a new report shows rents are higher than they have ever been across the country.

There has been a 12.4% increase over the past year, with some areas like Waterford and Limerick city seeing a 20% rise in prices.

Sinn Féin's David Cullinane says despite the issues in the housing sector, they will not be revisiting a motion of no confidence in Minister Eoghan Murphy.

"Obviously if the government doesn't take decisive action then what we want is a general election, not just no-confidence motions.

We'd prefer if this government was gone and we had a Housing Minister that was actually committed to real public housing. That's the solution that I want to see.

"So whatever about motions of no-confidence, all of those issues would be dealt with by Sinn Féin after we return after the summer recess."

Digital Desk

Earlier: Warning as rents hit their highest ever level

By Stephen Rogers and Linda McGrory

Update 12am: Rents have reached their highest level ever, with tenants now paying more than €1,300 per month.

According to the latest Daft Rental Report, published today, the average rent nationwide has risen by 75% since bottoming out in 2011 and is now 27% above its previous high in 2016. Rents have now risen for 24 consecutive quarters.

Niamh Randall: "Enhancing security of tenure has to be an urgent priority."

The biggest hikes are where demand is at its highest — in the cities. In Dublin, rents are now 34% above their previous peak, while in Cork and Galway cities rents are 25% and 41% above levels recorded a little over a decade ago.

People living outside the cities haven’t escaped the increases — they are having to pay 17% above previous peak levels.

The record prices are putting even more pressure on the thousands of people who are struggling to pay their rents each month and also mean thousands more will struggle to escape homelessness.

The Daft figures, published this morning, come after the Simon Communities claimed earlier this week that 92% of rental properties were beyond rent supplement (RS)/housing assistance payment (HAP) limits.

Its Locked Out of the Market XI report found there were just 530 properties around the country with no income limits and that this was one of the main reasons people and families were either becoming homeless or being prevented from leaving homelessness behind.

Its big concern is that the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan is heavily reliant on the private rental sector to deliver social housing through the (HAP) and it says this is problematic because the supply simply is not there.

The Government has claimed it is providing housing solutions for 350 new households every week using HAP/RS and that the data being used by Simon does not reflect the full picture.

However, the Simon Communities said the latest Daft figures showed more needs to be done to support struggling tenants.

It said rent pressure zones need to be urgently reviewed and more strictly enforced to ensure rogue landlords are not pushing rents up by more than the maximum of 4%.

Enhancing security of tenure has to be an urgent priority to ensure that people can keep a roof over their heads and have greater certainty,” said Simon Communities national spokesperson Niamh Randall.

“In addition, loopholes that allow section 34 evictions to continue for reasons of sale or renovations — so called ‘renovictions’ — must be closed down.”

She pointed out that many people in emergency accommodation are there because they have already lost their rented home.

“It is nearly impossible for people to move on from emergency accommodation and homeless services because there is nowhere for them to go,” said Ms Randall.

So many households are ‘hidden homeless’ doubling and tripling up with friends or relatives living with daily uncertainty, some not knowing where they will sleep tonight, next week or next month.

The extent of the “hidden homeless” is exemplified by the fact that, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office, there are almost 440,000 grown-up children currently living at home, almost 60% of them men.

In light of the Daft figures, John-Mark McCafferty, chief executive of national housing charity, Threshold, said it is abundantly clear that the housing market is broken. “Consecutive governments have done little to stop this, leaving families right across the country struggling to keep a roof over their heads,” he said.

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