Just one of 630 homes affordable for person on housing benefit - study

Simon Community urges State to address issue of unreasonable deposits being requested

Just one property out of 630 across the State is affordable to a single person receiving housing benefit, according to the latest Simon Community "snapshot" study.

Niamh Randall, national spokeswoman for the Simon Community said this was the "most shocking finding" of the study that tracked the number of properties affordable for someone receiving rent subsidy or the Housing Assistance Payment.

Locked Out of the Market, the charity's eighth survey of properties in 11 locations also showed that just 9 per cent of those 630 properties were available to people with housing benefit whether they were single people or couples with or without children.

Ms Randall warned that local authorities needed to get back into building and managing social housing to deal with the housing and homelessness crisis because the private sector was not going to deliver what was needed.


“The reason that we’re in this particular crisis is because the State stopped building and managing social housing,” she said.

The charity called for loopholes in current legislation to be closed, restricting landlords with more than three properties from invoking Section 34 of the Residential Tenancies Act to issue notice of termination to tenants.

Ms Randall also called on the State to address the issue of unreasonable deposits being requested at the start of a tenancy. It stressed the urgent need for rent certainty to be matched with security of tenure.

She was speaking at the launch of the report, in which the Simon Community tracked properties on the Daft.ie website on three consecutive days at the beginning of August in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford city centres as well as in Athlone, Dundalk, north Kildare, Co Leitrim, Portlaoise and Sligo town. The charity has been checking rental costs in the private rental market every six months for the past two years.


Last July, the State increased rent supplement and the Hap payment but the study showed that in the private sector rents were on average 90 per cent higher than rent supplement or Hap payment, compared with 29 per cent higher this time last year. Ms Randall said this showed clearly that the increase in benefits had been eroded.

While the average rent was 90 per cent higher than State benefit the rate varied from 13 per cent higher in Dundalk to 213 per cent higher in Galway city centre.

For couples or lone parents with two children rents are 38 per cent higher on average than rent supplement allows. In August last year the difference was 21 per cent.

The study also showed that the supply of private rental accommodation is down 45 per cent in the last two years.

In its survey the charity looked at housing for a single person, couples, a couple or one parent with one child and a couple or single parent with two children.

It found that Cork city centre was the only location of the 11 that had properties available in all four categories.

Just 9 per cent of properties were accessible to all people with State subsidies in this month’s survey compared with 12 per cent in the charity’s March study and 20 per cent a year ago in its August 2016 study.

The number of properties available to rent for such low-income families has dropped by 50 per cent in urban areas since March.

Simon Community ‘Locked Out of the Market’ study

Number of people receiving rent supplement: 43,000

Number of people receiving Housing Assistance Payment (Hap): 24,000

Areas covered:

Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford city centres, Athlone, Dundalk, north Kildare, Co Leitrim, Portlaoise and Sligo town

* Just one property available for single person on housing benefit – in Cork city centre; seven were available in August 2016;

* 91 per cent of 630 properties available to rent are beyond the reach of people dependent on State housing benefits whether they are single or couples with families; just 54 properties affordable to this group

* No properties within housing benefit limits available in Galway, Sligo or Portlaoise

* Just one property available in Athlone and one in Limerick across four categories, ie single person, couple, couple/lone parent with one child, couple/lone parent with two children

* 630 properties available for rent in August 2017, a drop of 45 per cent from 1,150 homes available in 2015 when Simon Community conducted first study

* Two properties were available for couples – in Cork city and Dundalk

* In Co Leitrim, 38 properties were available to rent in early August 2017, of which seven were within housing-benefit limits for a couple with one child and eight for a couple with two children

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times