One or no properties within RS/HAP limits were available in eight of the eleven study areas
The Simon Communities latest Locked Out of the Market XI snapshot study, published today, shows that only 8% of properties are available within Rent Supplement (RS) /Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) levels. The snapshot study was undertaken over three consecutive days in May 2018 (1st, 2nd, and 3rd). There were just 530 properties available to rent with no income limits across the eleven locations during this period. This is a decrease of 54% when compared to the first Locked Out of the Market study in May 2015 when there were 1,150 properties available.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland said this is one of the main reasons that people and families are becoming homeless and also are prevented from leaving homelessness behind.
‘The Government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan is heavily reliant on the private rental sector to deliver social housing through the Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) and this is problematic because the supply simply is not there. Our figures clearly indicate that increases in RS/HAP limits introduced in July 2016 are no longer effective. It is nearly impossible for people, particularly single people, to move on from emergency accommodation and homeless services because there is nowhere for them to go. Many people in emergency accommodation are there because they have already lost their rented home. So many households are ‘hidden homeless’ doubling and tripling up with friends or relatives living with daily uncertainyy, some not knowing where they will sleep tonight, next week or next month. People just cannot compete within this rental market – it’s really unfair.’
‘Our Locked Out study also shows the far-reaching nature of this crisis. Only one or no properties were available within RS/HAP limits in eight out of eleven study areas. No properties were available across all four categories in three study areas (Galway City Centre, Limerick City Centre, Portlaoise) and just one property was available across all categories in five study areas (Athlone, Dublin City Centre, North Kildare, Sligo Town, Waterford City Centre). This is the lowest recorded point in our study series which has been declining since RS/HAP limits were increased in July 2016. The number of available properties within RS/HAP limits in regional towns has significantly decreased from 13 properties in February 2018 to 6 properties in this most recent study indicating just how much people are having to compromise with their commutes getting longer. Any benefit from the July 2016 increase in RS/HAP limits has now clearly been eroded. 92% of the properties on the market are above these limits. While discretionary uplifts are available, these are managed on a case-by-case basis, which is not an adequate policy solution. In the absence of access to social housing as required or being able to afford to buy a home, the private rental market is the only option for many people. Where are they to go? Some landlords are now asking for three months’ rent in advance. People on housing benefit, low incomes or those trying to leave homelessness just cannot afford that.’
‘Nearly half a million households rent their home. Without full rent certainty and security of tenure they cannot have peace of mind. Rent Pressure Zones must be extended and enforced where they already exist. The Government must increase Rent Supplement and HAP limits to allow single people, couples and families in receipt of these payments to compete fairly. In Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs), this must be by at least 4% as the majority of rents in these areas will increase by at least 4% per annum. In addition, loopholes that allow section 34 evictions to continue for reasons of sale or renovations – so called ‘renovictions’, must be closed down. People trapped in emergency accommodation need secure, affordable homes with support where needed. Critically, the State must build social and affordable homes at the scale required; that is the key to resolving this crisis.
The full report: ‘Locked Out of the Market XI: The Gap between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’ can be found here and contains recommendations from the Simon Communities. This is the eleventh study in the Locked Out of the Market series.
The Simon Communities deliver supports and services to over 11,000 people and families who experience or are at risk of homelessness every year.
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About Simon Communities
The Simon Communities in Ireland are a network of eight regionally based independent Simon Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East that share common values and ethos in tackling all forms of homelessness throughout Ireland, supported by a National Office. The Simon Communities have been providing services in Ireland for almost 50 years. The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 8,300 people and families throughout Ireland who experience – or are at risk of – homelessness every year. Whatever the issue, for as long as we are needed, Simon’s door is always open. For more information, please log on to www.simon.ie
Services range from
- Housing provision, tenancy sustainment & settlement services, housing advice & information services helping people to make the move out of homelessness & working with households at risk;
- Specialist health & treatment services addressing some of the issues which may have contributed to homeless occurring or may be a consequence;
- Emergency accommodation & support providing people with a place of welcome, warmth & safety;
- Soup runs & rough sleeper teams who are often the first point of contact for people sleeping rough.