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No bedroom and €2,000 a month: Why cost-rental is an alternative to private market

As expensive studio apartments hit the market, cost-rental homes can be a good alternative. The challenge, however, is getting one

Earlier this month, 13 three-bed homes came on the market to rent in Swords, north Co Dublin. Within just three days, each home had attracted interest from 44 applicants.

The reason? The houses were being brought to market by Respond, the approved housing body (AHB), as part of the Government’s cost-rental scheme. And the rent? Some €1,654 a month.

While it is still a significant sum – at about 43 per cent of the average after-tax industrial wage (€48,000) – such a rent still considerably lags behind rents on the open market. A three-bed in nearby Kinsealy, for example, is listed for rent at €2,321 a month.

Launched back in 2021 with the Taylor Hill development in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, cost-rental properties target middle-income earners who earn too much for social housing supports, but not enough to be able to afford market rents.

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A sizeable cohort then, particularly given that the scheme has recently gotten more accessible. Indeed up until this summer, applicants had to have less than a net (ie after tax) household income of €53,000 to qualify. Since August of this year, however, the national net income ceiling has been increased to €59,000, while the ceiling in Dublin now stands at €66,000. Given this is net, or after tax income, it means that outside of Dublin, you (or your household) can earn about €90,000 to qualify, or about €100,000 in Dublin.

Rents are set at a minimum of 25 per cent below market rates, with the monthly charge for the three-bedroom properties at Cronan’s Well in Swords set at €1,654.

No wonder then that there was so much interest in such schemes. Across the city, going against the narrative of ever-diminishing supply in the rental market, a number of larger build-to-rent developments have come to the rental market in recent weeks.

And they’re not cheap.

Consider Glenamuck Manor, on the busy Glenamuck Road in Dublin 18. One-bed apartments at the development start at €1,875 a month, with two-beds starting at €2,250.

Or how about Hamilton Gardens in Cabra, Dublin 7, where a studio – yes, that’s an apartment with just one room, and no separate bedroom – will set you back a staggering €1,895 a month. Describing itself as “the newest face of renting in Dublin”, the development of almost 500 apartments, built by UK developer Royalton Group and real estate investor Tristian Capital Partners, also comes with a gym, residents’ lounge and co-working space. If you want an actual bedroom, prices start at €2,307 a month, or €2,614 for a two-bed.

Or how about Green Acre Grange, on the Upper Kilmacud Road in Dublin 14. A one-bed will cost you more than €2,000 here, with a three-bed at almost double a cost-rental option, at €3,200 a month.

Or Kennedy Wilson’s expansion of The Grange scheme in Stillorgan, south Dublin, which recently saw the completion of some 287 apartments.

You might get amenities such as dog-washing facilities and a fitness centre, but you will pay for it; a studio starts at €1,975 a month, rising to €3,400 for a three-bed.

On Monday of this week, a lottery was held to decide who will be selected to rent the homes in Swords.

“We are expecting to notify the successful applicants before the Christmas break, with a move-in date to be confirmed in January,” says a spokesman for Respond.

But what about those who are unsuccessful?

Under the Government’s Housing for All plan, there are plans to deliver about 18,000 cost-rental homes between now and 2030, averaging about 2,000 a year. However, delivery to date has been less than expected; according to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, some 700 cost-rental homes have been delivered to date.

This means that to secure one, you need to find out when they are due to hit the market – AHBs don’t take waiting lists – and then you’ll need some luck. Keep an eye out on tuathhousing.ie; cluid.ie and respond.ie for further launches if the scheme is of interest.

Respond, for example, has plans to manage a further 35 cost-rental properties in the nearby Mooretown development in Swords. A separate lottery will be held for this allocation when it is confirmed.