State’s biggest private landlord returns to black with profit of €27.4m

Ires Reit saw rental income grow by 5.9% to more than €31m in first six months of year

The largest private landlord in the State recorded a 5.9 per cent increase in rental income in the first half of 2021 as it swung back into profit, its interim report shows.

Ires Reit, which has a portfolio of almost 4,000 properties mainly across Dublin, delivered a strong performance for the period ended June 30th, 2021, despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

It made a profit of €27.4 million in the period as against a loss of €10.9 million during the same period in 2020. Its revenue from investment properties increased by 5.5 per cent to €39.4 million.

Occupancy remains robust at 98.6 per cent across the residential portfolio, while residential rent collection rates were stable at about 99 per cent for the period.

The company recorded an increase in net rental income (NRI) of 5.9 per cent to €31.3 million. This was up from €29.6 million the year before.

The increase was attributed to growth in the rental assets portfolio arising from acquisitions as well as organic rental growth.

It said the NRI margin was 79.5 per cent, up from 79.2 per cent in 2020.

EPRA earnings, which are a measure of underlying operating performance, increased by 11.9 per cent to €17.8 million.

EPRA earnings per share increased by 9.7 per cent to 3.4 cents for the six months mainly due to an increase in revenue and a decrease in non-recurring costs incurred.

There was continued growth in dividends as the company said it intended to declare an interim dividend of 2.91 cents per share for the six months.

The group has available facilities of €187 million, which is down from €246 million at the turn of the year. It also has €14.4 million in cash, up from €11.2 million at the turn of the year.

‘Unprecedented’ changes

Ires Reit chief executive Margaret Sweeney said the "unprecedented social and economic challenges" due to the Covid-19 global pandemic continued during the first half of 2021.

“We have worked together very effectively to navigate the business successfully through the uncertainty and challenges of this environment as well as continuing to grow the business in the first six months of the year,” she said.

“The results for the first half reflect the continuing execution of our growth strategy with investment of €69.2 million in further residential homes for rental in the period.

“The business continues to perform strongly with revenue growth of circa 5.5 per cent over the last year. It is important to highlight that the company did not apply any rent increases on existing resident leases over the past year in recognition of the societal challenges presented by the Covid pandemic.

“These results demonstrate the strong resilience of the business during this uncertain and challenging time with net rental income margin achieved of 79.5 per cent and continued strong occupancy across the portfolio of 98.6 per cent.”

She said the group added 148 new homes since December 2020, bringing its overall rental portfolio to 3,836.

“During the period, we closed the acquisition of a portfolio of 146 high quality residential units at the Phoenix Park Racecourse on January 28th, 2021,” she said.

“We continue to invest in line with our growth strategy with ongoing development of 130 new apartments and town houses in aggregate due for delivery in 2022 at Bakers Yard and through the forward purchase contract for Merrion Road, Dublin.

“We entered into a 25-year social housing lease for 128 units at Hampton Wood that is expected to close in August 2021.”

Ms Sweeney said housing in Ireland is “a sensitive sector” from public, government, political and regulatory perspectives, due to “significant supply challenges in meeting growing demand for new homes”.

“This has resulted in a number of changes to the regulatory environment so far this year, with changes in stamp duty and rent price regulation introduced in June and July 2021,” she said.

“The company continues to engage with and take account of this changing landscape in its investment and operating decision making.

“Ires recognises its responsibilities to all stakeholders and is cognisant of the many challenges being faced in the housing sector and wider society.

“The economic growth outlook for Ireland and the fundamentals of our business remain strong with a young growing population, reducing household sizes, and continuing strong international investment supporting continued requirements for good quality professionally management private rental accommodation.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter

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