Most tenants rent ‘as they cannot get mortgage or social housing’

Almost half of renters feel insecure in their tenancy, according to Threshold survey

Less than one-third of households in the private-rented sector are there by choice, a survey published on Monday finds.

The "tenant sentiment survey" from the housing charity Threshold finds the majority (71 per cent) are renting because they cannot get a mortgage to buy a home or cannot get social housing because there isn't enough available.

Drawing on data, gathered in April from 300 renters who used Threshold’s services, the study finds 96 per cent found it either “difficult or extremely difficult” to find rental accommodation.

Some 45 per cent spend nearly a third of their take-home pay on rent, with 14 per cent paying more than half their earnings on rent.


Almost half (47 per cent) said they “felt insecure in their tenancy”, and one-third (31 per cent) had had their rent increased in the previous 12 months. Some 65 per cent of these said their rent had increased in excess of the 4 per cent permitted under the “rent pressure zone” caps.

‘Worrying’ findings

The findings were “extremely worrying, but not surprising”, said John-Mark McCafferty, chief executive of Threshold.

“Nearly half of those surveyed were working, but the fact that 14 per cent of tenants are spending more than half of their take-home pay on rent shows that renting is increasingly becoming out of reach for many people.

“That, coupled with the fact that only 28 per cent expect to be in a position to own their own home in five years’ time, begs the question – what is the long-term solution for this group of people?”

Threshold is marking 40 years in operation this year.

The organisation's chairwoman, Dr Aideen Hayden, said, "Threshold had begun in the late 1970s – an era of discrimination . . . illegal evictions and poor living conditions.

“Unfortunately, not much has changed in the intervening years – tenancy terminations, rent increases and substandard accommodation were the top three issues brought to Threshold’s attention by clients in the first quarter of 2018.”

Threshold is planning a series of events throughout the year, including a policy event in the autumn. The first event, which will be held at the Mansion House, Dublin on Monday evening, will be addressed by UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, and Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times