An "unprecedented" contraction in the supply of rental accommodation since the lifting of some Covid-19 restrictions in April has led to a 79 per cent reduction since June in the number of available properties for renters receiving housing supports, according to the Simon Communities of Ireland.
The group’s Locked Out report for October uses data from property website Daft.ie to examine access to housing in the private rental market for people on the housing assistance payment (HAP). It also looks at the availability of homes to rent over a three-day period.
The report considers the availability of properties within both the standard and discretionary HAP limits in 16 areas around the country for four household categories: single person; couple; couple/one parent and one child; and couple/one parent and two children.
The report notes there was an initial increase in supply of rental properties during the early onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with an 80 per cent rise in the number of available properties between the March and July Locked Out reports in 2020.
“It is assumed that this is due to a combination of an influx of holiday rentals entering the mainstream market, stagnation in housing demand with the stay-at-home order and a lack of economic certainty,” the report says.
“Following the lifting of restrictions from April 2021, there has been an unprecedented contraction in supply.
“This is evidenced in the two most recent Locked Out reports, with a reduction in the amount of properties to rent by 20 per cent in the June study and a further 54 per cent decrease noted in this study.”
The latest report found there were 1,017 properties available to rent at any price in total within the 16 areas over the three dates surveyed.
This represents a 54 per cent decrease from the 2,208 properties which were available to rent at any price in June. This is further down from the 2,757 properties available in December 2020. The report says supply is “overwhelmingly” driven by Dublin.
There were 190 properties available under a standard or discretionary HAP limit in at least one of the four household categories examined, representing 19 per cent of the total properties available, according to the October report.
This represents a 79 per cent decrease on the 906 properties which were available within at least one HAP category in the June study.
The latest report found there was just one property available to rent for a single person within HAP limits, and found just 23 instances of properties available within standard HAP limits for at least one of the four household categories.
In nine of the 16 areas surveyed, there were no properties available to rent for any category within standard or discretionary rent supplement or HAP limits.
Those areas were Athlone, Cork city centre, Galway city suburbs, Leitrim, Limerick city centre, Limerick city suburbs, Sligo town, Portlaoise and Waterford city centre.
Wayne Stanley, head of policy and communications at the Simon Communities of Ireland, said that the "escalating lack of affordability is placing more and more pressure on the most vulnerable in the rental market".
“The sharp contraction of supply, documented in this report, is likely to contribute to the rising monthly numbers of people forced to enter homelessness,” he added.