The number of tenants facing eviction is now running 76 per cent ahead of 2019, the year before a moratorium on evictions was put in place for the Covid pandemic, figures from housing agency Threshold suggest.
On average this year, Threshold has supported 462 private renters per month who have received termination notices – 58 per cent of which were due to a landlord planning to sell the property. Three years ago, it was assisting an average of 263 renters per month facing eviction.
The figures are to be presented on Tuesday to an Oireachtas committee amid a warning from Threshold that it expects to see an increase in “hidden homelessness” in the coming months, with those forced to find alternative, often short-term, accommodation typically not included in official data.
“We expect to see the homeless figures increase in coming months; however, we are hearing that some local authorities are unable to provide emergency accommodation and so are turning people away,” the agency states in a submission to the Oireachtas Housing Committee.
“This will mean an increased number of people living in hidden homelessness, sleeping on couches, on floors, in cars or rough sleeping. These people will not be counted in the official homeless figures.”
According to the charity, some rents outside Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) have increased by 60 per cent and have even doubled in some cases. In its pre-budget statement, it has sought a reintroduction of tax relief for renters and the establishment of a €20 million arrears fund.
Separately, property owner representatives will pitch a new 25 per cent tax on institutional landlords. Both the Irish Property Owners’ Association (IPOA), representing smaller private landlords, and the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) will argue before the committee that such a levy could be used to cut rates for its members, also to 25 per cent, and dissuade them from leaving the market.
IPOA data shows non-institutional landlords provide 94 per cent of rental accommodation (70 per cent of whom own five or fewer properties), much of which was purchased as pension investments.
It will say that “a tax rate of 25 per cent for all investment funds/REITS [real estate investment trusts] operating in the residential rental market… would bring some much-needed equilibrium to the treatment of landlords”.
“The private investor is taxed at a marginal rate of up to 55 per cent while the private equity fund/REIT pays 0 per cent tax on rental profit, once they exit the market within a defined period.”
In its submission, the IPAV, citing inhouse market research, claims capital values of properties subject to RPZ rules are falling while, in many cases, non-institutional landlords leaving the market are replaced by institutionally owned properties at much higher rents.
The committee is also due to hear from Dr Michael Byrne at University College Dublin’s school of social policy, social work and social justice.
He will offer a market state of play, citing variously sourced research, in which almost 70 per cent of families presenting as homeless are coming from the private rental sector, the majority of whom have been evicted.
RTB data, contained in Dr Byrne’s submission, indicates notices of termination issued by landlords have increased by 58 per cent in the first half of this year, again as an overwhelming consequence of sales.
Although an Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) study this year found the introduction of RPZ legislation was associated with a moderation of annual rent increases, rental inflation for new tenancies “continues to be very high”.
Dr Byrne will tell the committee that while subsidies such as the home assistance payment (Hap) have provided crucial support, they risk inflating rents further, “and do very little to address the issue of residential instability outlined above”.