Rents paid to Dublin city landlords for social housing soar

Dublin City Council paid up to 20% more in 2017 rents for waiting-list applicants

Rising costs to the local authority reflect the soaring rents in the Dublin market and the increasing financial pressure on local authorities to meet social housing needs in the community. Photograph: Getty Images.

Rising costs to the local authority reflect the soaring rents in the Dublin market and the increasing financial pressure on local authorities to meet social housing needs in the community. Photograph: Getty Images.

 

Average rents paid to Dublin city landlords to house people on local authority waiting lists under two State-subsidised social housing schemes rose by up to 20 per cent in 2017.

New figures released by Dublin City Council show the local authority paid an average monthly rent to private landlords renting out homes under long-term leasing arrangements of €1,228 last year, compared with €1,021 a month in 2016 – an increase of 20.4 per cent.

Under the rental accommodation scheme (RAS), the average monthly rent paid to landlords by the council was €1,494 a month in 2017, up from €1,353 a month the previous year, a 10.4 per cent increase.

The scheme has been one of the main Government supports for social housing applicants, costing the State an average of almost €130 million a year over the past five years.

Rising costs to the local authority reflect the soaring rents in the Dublin market and the increasing financial pressure on local authorities to meet social housing needs in the community.

Rents rose 12.3 per cent in Dublin in the year to September 2017, according to property website Daft.

The increases are in excess of the 4 per cent limit applied in designated rent pressure zones that came into effect in December 2016. Rising rental costs have put Dublin in a rent pressure zone.

“The increase in the amount paid to landlords in 2017 in part relates to rent reviews due in respect of a number of properties being carried out,” Dublin City Council said in a letter releasing the figures to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

Waiting lists

Under RAS, local authorities arrange with landlords to provide housing for people who have been on housing waiting lists for more than 18 months. Rent is paid directly to landlords on their behalf.

Rents paid under long-term leasing arrangements – rental agreements that last 10 to 20 years – are at a discount to the market value. Rents are capped at as high as 85 per cent of the open market rent.

The council’s average rents paid in 2017 under RAS were the second highest of the four Dublin local authorities, coming in behind Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown at €1,577 a month and ahead of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown at €1,249 a month.

The number of local authority-rented properties paid for by Dublin City Council under RAS stood at 1,125 in 2017, down from 1,197 the previous year, while the number of long-term leasing properties rose from 57 to 68.

Mike Allen, advocacy director at homeless charity Focus Ireland, said the soaring rents on social housing were a symptom of a stressed rental market.

“The work that the local authorities are having to do to hang on to those RAS landlords must be enormous,” he said.

“The fact that they are managing to keep the number of RAS tenancies up at those levels is quite an achievement, but it is obviously an expensive policy.”

In addition to RAS and long-term leasing arrangements, the council spent almost €11 million on providing 1,042 properties under “payment and availability payments” where approved housing bodies provide homes to people on local authority housing waiting lists.