Collapse in number of properties on rental market since pandemic laid bare in new report

Threshold/Citizens Information Board study says just 716 homes available to rent in August, down from average of 9,300 before pandemic

The number of places to rent in the Republic in August was just 7.5 per cent of the average available before the Covid-19 pandemic, a new report reveals.

On August 1st there were just 716 homes available to rent in the State in comparison with an average of 9,300 at any one time in the years between 2006 and 2019, according to the Renting and Risk report from the homeless charity Threshold and the Citizens Information Board.

The 716 figure was 63 per cent down on the number of properties available on August 1st last year. This has been driven by a large fall in the number of buy-to-let or residential investment letting mortgages.

In 2005, 25,800 such mortgages were issued. In 2020, just 800 drawdowns were made, says the report, which is based on 90,000 queries to both organisations in relation to housing in the years 2019 and 2020.


It states that the percentage of people in Irish society who are renting has more than doubled in the last 25 years but legislation has not kept up with the changes. Renting has gone from 8 per cent of the population to 20 per cent between the censuses of 1991 and 2016, they say.

The research found a lack of security of tenure is the foremost worry for renters followed by rent hikes and a lack of supply.

Vulnerable tenants

Threshold policy officer Ann-Marie O’Reilly said the data in the report is indicative of the extent to which the private rental sector now operates and renders an increasing number of tenants vulnerable.

“Anyone who has ever rented a home will likely identify with this sentiment,” she said. “This lack of security was most strongly evident in the exposure experienced by private renters when their landlord decided to sell the home, or to take it back for their own use, or when a private renter feels they must accept an invalid rent increase.”

The report recommends the inclusion of a right to housing in the Constitution and the removal of “no-fault” eviction from the Residential Tenancies Acts. The latter would only allow a landlord to evict where a tenant has breached the agreement, for example non-payment of rent or damage to the property.

The report recommends expanding Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) nationally, developing a greater enforcement of RPZs and developing supports for renters who accrue rent arrears. It calls on the State to take a greater role in building housing as it is the only thing that will be a “viable and long-lasting mechanism to stabilising rents in Ireland”.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times