The number of homes available to rent across the State has jumped by nearly 40 per cent as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to property website Daft.ie.
This sharp increase in supply came as average rents in April fell by 2.1 per cent when compared with March, due to the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The increase in available properties is said to have been triggered by landlords withdrawing their rentals from short-term listing sites such as Airbnb and offering them on Daft.ie instead.
In its latest quarterly report on the rental market here, Daft said there were 3,800 properties available to rent on its website on May 1st, almost 40 per cent up on the 2,700 properties listed on the same day last year.
While rents fell on a monthly basis, they were up 3.8 per cent in the first quarter year on year, although this did mark the lowest rate of inflation recorded since late 2012.
The average monthly rent nationwide stood at €1,418 in the first quarter of 2020, €676 higher than the low seen in late 2011.
The early 2020 trends have been broadly similar across the country, with rents rising by close to 4 per cent in many parts of the country in the year to March before falling up to 2 per cent in April.
In Dublin, rents fell by 2.5 per cent in April, compared to March, while in the four other major cities, they fell by an average of 2 per cent.
Commenting on the report, Ronan Lyons, economist at Trinity College Dublin and author of the Daft report, said: "Before Covid-19 stopped the economy in its tracks, it seemed as though things were finally beginning to improve for Ireland's rental sector.
“After a decade where effectively no new rental homes were built, the situation had improved in recent quarters. Figures in this report show that over 35,000 new rental homes were in the pipeline, when Covid-19 shut down the construction sector,” he said.
“Given that the pandemic is unlikely to change any of the long-term fundamentals driving underlying housing need, there is a danger that while its immediate impact might be to lower rents, its longer-term effect could be to worsen the shortage.”
Pat Davitt, chief executive of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers said the demand and supply curve in residential lettings was “changing utterly, particularly in high demand urban areas”.
“The Covid-10 pandemic has coincided with a plan by local authorities to implement regulations which took effect of July 1st last to suppress short-term tourist lettings in order to make properties available to the needs of the domestic market,” he said.
“The effect of the pandemic has been to, effectively, do this work for the local authorities and do it almost overnight, when the tourist market dried up.”
Mr Davitt said the downward pressure on rents was likely to be sustained. “Factors such as employment levels and any new work patterns to emerge will also play an important part in the supply/demand curve for the foreseeable future.”