Less than four per cent of homes for rent are available to people dependent on rent supplement (RS)or the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), a study published on Sunday shows.
The Locked Out of the Market Report from the Simon Communities finds that of 1,491 properties surveyed in 16 areas between 30th July and 1st August, just 55 (3.7 per cent) were available within the RS and HAP limits.
The study is the 15th in the charity’s series on the gap between the HAP and RS limits and market rents and is the first that looks at the impact of “discretionary top-ups” on accessing properties.
The “discretionary top-up” was introduced in July 2016, to allow local authorities top-up their payment to a landlord by up to 50 per cent above the rates. This was seen as a recognition of the inadequacy in many cases of these payments.
When this was factored in the number of properties available to HAP and RS tenants increased to 524 (35 per cent of the total), though of these 424 (81 per cent) were in Dublin city.
Cost of rent
Properties suitable for four household “types” – single people, couples, single parent/couple with one child, and, with two children – were examined.
The HAP/RS limits on what a tenant may pay depend on the household size and location of the property.
They vary from €180 per month for a single person in shared accommodation in County Longford to €430 per month for a single person sharing in Dublin. A couple with two children may pay a maximum of €425 a month in Longford, or €1,275 per month in Dublin.
The average rent being paid in Dublin in August was €2,023 according to property website Daft.ie.
In the Simon study not one property was available within the standard RS/HAP or discretionary top-up limits in Galway city centre, Portlaoise, County lease and Limerick city suburbs.
Single people and couples were particularly affected in the study with just four properties in the 16 areas available to these households, within the HAP and RS limits. All were in Dublin.
‘Not fit for purpose’
Wayne Stanley, head of policy with Simon, said it was "startlingly obvious that the Government's Rebuilding Ireland action plan on housing is not driving the level of change in our housing system that is required.
“The structural foundations of the housing provision in Ireland is not fit for purpose . . . A Government-led cost rental scheme is a key requirement in solving the housing crisis . . . In Budget 2020 we are calling for an increase in rent supplement and the HAP to ensure they are kept in line with market rents.”
The areas surveyed for the study were Cork city-centre, Cork city suburbs, Dublin city-centre, Dublin city north, Dublin city south, Galway city-centre, Galway city suburbs, Limerick city-centre, Limerick city suburbs, Portlaoise, Kildare north, Athlone, Sligo town, Dundalk, Waterford City-centre and Co Leitrim.