State should build affordable rental homes, says Peter McVerry Trust

Rising cost of rent is the main source of new homeless cases, new figures deeply worrying

The Government must fund local authorities to build affordable rental housing, a homelessness charity has said.

Reacting to the latest data from property website on increasing rental costs , Pat Doyle, chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust, said the figures are deeply worrying.

He highlighted Dublin rents, which are now 18 per cent higher than the peak during the economic boom.

“The rising cost of rent is the main source of new homeless cases, and our worry is that we will see even more households losing their homes as the situation worsens,” he said.


“Unfortunately, rising rents also make our job of finding homes more difficult.”

Mr Doyle said, at the moment, the charity does not have enough social housing, so is overly reliant on the private rental sector.

“If rents continue on their runaway path, and alternative affordable supply is not forthcoming, then we cannot secure homes for people to move out of homeless services,” he said.

The solution is for the State to build affordable rental properties, Mr Doyle suggested.

“At the present time developers cannot build affordable housing and we shouldn’t rely on business to meet housing needs, therefore the State must step in,” he said.

He highlighted the plight of “a growing number of people who are stuck in a very precarious situation and are vulnerable” in an increasingly expensive private market.

“These are households that earn too much to qualify for traditional social housing, but not enough to buy a home,” he said.


Mr Doyle urged the Government to instruct and resource local authorities to begin building affordable rental accommodation.

Labour Party spokeswoman on housing, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, said the rent increases showed "the absolute failure" of the Government's rent pressure zone model to slow the pace of "skyrocketing" increases in the rental market.

The model set limits on percentage increases landlords are allowed to impose on tenants in certain areas of the country.

Ms O’Sullivan said as a result of the model’s failure, it has placed thousands of households across the country under further pressure.

“Last Autumn the Labour Party introduced a Bill in the Dáil that would have established reference rents in different locations and would have limited rent increases to the increases in the Consumer Price Index,” she said.

“That Bill was voted down by the Government with the assistance of Fianna Fáil.”

She said rent pressure zones simply hadn’t delivered and cities like Limerick and Waterford were still excluded despite yearly increases of 10.8 per cent in Limerick and 8.4 per cent in Waterford.

“Minister Murphy will have to go back to the drawing board quickly if we are not to see more and more families becoming homeless because rent prices are simply beyond their means,” the deputy said.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist