Rental properties out of reach of housing assistance payment recipients

Niamh Randall of the Simon Community
By Evelyn Ring
Irish Examiner Reporter

Just 8% of properties in the biggest towns and cities are affordable to those in receipt of rent supplement or housing assistance payments (RS/HAP), new figures reveal.

Data compiled by the Simon Communities using figures from reveals that people on low incomes cannot compete in the rental market.

It shows that there were no properties available within the subsidy limits in Galway city centre, Limerick city centre, and Portlaoise.

Just one property was available in Athlone, Dublin city centre, North Kildare, Sligo town, and Waterford city centre.

There were 530 properties in the private rental market within the range of those receiving RS/HAP, but when the first Locked out of the Market study was published in May 2015 there were 1,150 properties available.

Simon Communities spokesperson, Niamh Randall, said the low availability of rented property within current RS/HAP levels is one of the main reasons people and families are becoming homeless or are prevented from leaving homelessness behind.

The Government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan is heavily reliant on the private rental sector to deliver social housing through the HAP and this is problematic because the supply simply is not there,” said the spokesperson.

“Our figures clearly indicate that increases in RS/HAP limits introduced in July 2016 are no longer effective.”

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

The homeless charity has called for the extension of rent pressure zones and for existing pressure zones to be enforced.

As well as increasing RS/HAP limits the Government must close loopholes allowing evictions to continue for reasons of property sale or renovations.

However, the key to resolving this crisis is the provision by the State of social and affordable homes at the scale required, said Simon Communities.

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