Belfast Telegraph

Housing charity sees 28% rise in people seeking help over rent problems

A leading housing charity has reported a huge jump in people seeking its help because they are struggling to pay their rent.

As the latest report reveals rental hikes smashing through Celtic Tiger levels, Threshold has demanded a tightening of tenant protection measures.

The housing charity says 705 people in Dublin, Cork and Galway have sought help from it already this year over crippling rent rises.

At a rate of three people a day, it is a 28% hike in the numbers contacting the service last year.

The just-published quarterly rental report shows average monthly rents nationwide now at 1,037 euro - up 10% on last year and the most expensive ever.

Between April and June this year, average rents jumped at their highest rate since the property-boom peak in 2007.

Stephen Large, manager of Threshold, said the report also confirms double-digit rent rises are no longer just a Dublin phenomenon but have become the norm nationally.

"The rate of increase shows no sign of slowing any time soon, and rents are becoming increasingly unaffordable for many tenants," he warned.

"In extreme cases, rent increases can lead to tenancy breakdown or even homelessness."

Mr Large praised a recent change in law which force landlords to restrict rent rises to every two years and caps them at local rates, but insists more needs to be done.

But Housing Minister Simon Coveney claims the change in law may actually be to blame for the record rent hikes.

"Figures from the Daft report today are new rentals - they are not monitoring existing rentals that are in a two-year cycle in terms of rent reviews," he said.

"Some people would make the case that, because rents are now frozen for a two-year period, when people are setting new rent prices they are trying to anticipate rental inflation, which has had an impact on the market."

Mr Coveney said tenants already in good accommodation are being helped by the new measures but insisted moves towards a rent freeze would not do any good.

"The main problem here is there simply isn't enough accommodation in term of supply so the conditions have to be there to encourage significant investment in large-scale rental accommodation," he added.

Threshold wants to see any rent rises linked to the rising cost of goods and services.

The charity runs a Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) in Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Wicklow, Cork and Galway.

Mr Large wants to see it launched countrywide.

In Dublin, rents increased by more than 11% over the last year with the average property in the capital costing 1,520 euro a month.

The figure is more than 5% higher than the previous high in early 2008.

But rents are rising fastest in Cork - up a whopping 18% in the last year.

An average rental property in the city now costs 1,051 euro a month.

Rents are almost 14% higher in Galway; up 15.5% in Limerick; and in Waterford city, rents have jumped by more than 13%.


From Belfast Telegraph