Ireland’s rental market: The top 10 players

From landlords to Nama, the market is made up of and influenced by multiple factors

Housing in Dublin. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Housing in Dublin. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

Landlord

Most landlords are small-time operators. A majority (65 per cent) own a single property. Fewer than 10 per cent have three or more.

Large-scale institutional investors have only just begun to enter the market in recent years, part of a national policy to “professionalise” the rented sector.

Landlords’ main representative group, the Irish Property Owners’ Association, say many small-scale operators are struggling to keep up repayments on buy-to-let properties.

Banks

Banks are saddled with more than 100,000 mortgages in arrears. The fate of these loans – especially buy-to-lets – will have profound consequences for the rental sector.

Some have predicted a “tsumani” of repossessions that would deepen the housing crisis and drive up rents. It has yet to materialise.

Banks have usually come to re-structuring arrangements where mortgage holders are paying down at least some of their loans.

Tenant

Renting used to be a stepping stone to buying a home. Now, it is a longer-term option for many – single people, families, older people – who either can’t afford to buy or don’t want to.

Some 700,000 people – one in five households – rent their homes, more than at any time since the 1950s.

Most, according to surveys, are unhappy renting and say their inability to buy a home is their main reason for staying in the sector.

Some 1,500 people in the capital are in homeless emergency accommodation.

Celtic Tiger developer

Blamed for the economy’s collapse, much-maligned developers are emerging as a solution to our latest property crisis: a severe housing shortage.

The country requires an estimated 30,000 new homes each year just to meet demand.

Last year, a third of that number were built.

Foreign developers never arrived, so familiar faces such as Johnny Ronan, Bernard McNamara and Michael O’Flynn are re-building property empires.

Department of Social Protection

About 90,000 households – or 30 per of tenancies – receive State subsidies for housing in the private sector on the basis that they cannot afford the market rate.

The Department has frozen rent supplement payments since May 2013, partly on the basis it was responsible for increasing the overall cost of rent.

Campaigners say the size of rent supplement means up to 90 per cent of available properties to rent are simply too expensive.

Private Residential Tenancies Board

Established in 2004, the board registers tenancies and resolves disputes between landlords and tenants.

It also provides policy advice to the Government on the private rented sector.

Research indicates many tenants and landlords are not aware of their rights and responsibilities due, in part, to the complexity of laws around issues such as security of tenure and circumstances in which rents may be increased.

Councillors

During the boom years, councillors had the power to direct officials and planners to take decisions over land rezoning and planning permission. The abuse of this left a legacy of inappropriate developments. Some of these powers have since been taken away, and a new planning regulator is to be established. Councilllors will still be able to guide local development plans, but these will be assessed by the independent regulator.

Planners

Ireland built too many houses during the property bubble. But it also built far many of them in the wrong places. These days many point the finger at planning officials for housing shortages because of restrictive regulations and the lengthy planning permission process. Planners, however, say funding and infrastructure are much bigger obstacles and there is no shortage of land or planning permissions.

Nama

The State’s “bad bank” was established to offload toxic property loans from the main financial institutions.

The National Asset Management Agency, which bought the loans at significantly discounted rates, is charged with securing the best possible economic return to the State.

It is now widening its role to act as a kind of developer to jump- start the construction of 20,000 homes over the next five years.

Accidental landlord

Many who bought starter homes during the boom years have ended up as “accidental landlords”, trapped by the collapse of the housing market.

While their lives may have changed their properties have remained in negative equity.

Central Bank

The main institution responsible for financial stability in the State moved to dampen a rising house-buying market early last year by imposing lending caps.

The move worked, but at a cost, putting more pressure on the rental market.

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