92% of properties available to rent are priced beyond the reach of those in receipt of rent supports, a rental sector snapshot study by the Simon Communities in Ireland has found. There were no properties available to rent for a single individual within rent limits in any of the five major city centres over the three day study period. These stark results come days before Budget 2016 announcements.
Conducted over three consecutive days in August, ‘Locked Out of the Market II: The Gap between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’ highlights the ever increasing gap between rising rents and Rent Supplement / Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) limits, which have remained unchanged since June 2013. In the same period rents have increased nationally by 20%*.
The number of properties available to rent within RS/HAP limits decreased from the already low levels reported in the Simon Communities May 2015 snapshot study. There were 859 properties to rent over the three days of the August study in eleven locations compared to 1,150 in May; a 25% decrease. Only 7.4% (64) of all properties available were at or below rent supplement/HAP limits. This was a drop from 12% in May.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said the figures show that rent supplement limits and rent certainty must be addressed in Budget 2016.
‘All household types fared worse in this study with people who are single doing particularly badly with only 2 properties available across the 11 locations falling within rent supplement/HAP limits for a single person. Yet we know 44% of those on the official housing list are single. There were no properties available within any of the limits in Galway or Portlaoise and just 1 property was available within limits in Athlone. Neither a single person nor couple can find property in Cork city centre and again no properties available for a single person in Dublin city centre. These numbers are truly shocking when compared with growing housing need. Rent Supplement is meant to provide a safety net for people and families at a time of need to support them into or to remain in housing. The question must be asked of whether it remains fit for purpose in light of this evidence.”
“The findings from this study are clear - we are just moving from a bad situation to one which is much worse. Rent Supplement/Hap limits are simply too low as rents continue to escalate and this is causing people to become homeless as well as preventing people from leaving homelessness behind. These limits must be increased and the long awaited rent certainty measures must be introduced in Budget 2016 for this Government to start moving towards proactively addressing the crisis. This is about political will, the Government have the power to implement the changes needed. We urge them to do this on Budget day.”
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said the Simon Communities have made ten recommendations in the report, considering the evidence presented.
“We are also calling for enhanced prevention and early intervention responses, to ensure people remain in their homes where possible. The introduction of incentives for landlords whose tenants are in receipt of Rent Supplement and HAP, as recommended by the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) linked to quality and security of tenure. Better use must be made of existing empty properties, houses and local authority homes. We need innovative thinking; short and long term measures. For example we welcome ideas such as modular housing as a short term measures but it is all happening at too slow a pace.”
“There must be an expectation that people will move on from emergency accommodation and that such measures are only used as urgent, short term responses; they should be accompanied by longer term plans. Access to affordable housing with support is the solution to the housing and homeless crisis. People who are homeless must be prioritised as having the greatest social housing need.”
The full report: ‘Locked Out of the Market II: The Gap between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’ can be found here and contains ten recommendations from the Simon Communities.
For media queries and interview requests
Helen McCormack, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 671 1606/ 085 806 5141
About ‘Locked Out of the Market II’
• The study was conducted over three days – 24th, 25th and 26th of August 2015
• The exercise tracked the number of properties to rent on Daft.ie during this randomly-selected period within Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment limits.
• Details were gathered for the following locations: Cork City Centre, Dublin City Centre, Galway City Centre, Limerick City Centre, Waterford City Centre, Portlaoise, Kildare, Athlone, Sligo town, Dundalk and Leitrim.
• There was an average of 859 properties available to rent over the three consecutive days the exercise was undertaken in the eleven areas reviewed.
• 7.4% (64 properties) were available within RS/HAP limits.
• There were no properties available to rent for a single individual within rent limits in any of the five major city centres over the three day study period.
• Only 3% (2 properties) were available within RS/HAP limits for a single person. This compares to 7% (9 properties) in the report last May – a fall of 78%.
• 14% (9 properties) of the properties available nationwide to rent were within the RS/HAP limits for a couple. This compares to 12% (17 properties) available to rent for this category in the first Locked Out of the Market report – a fall of 47%.
• 53% (34 properties) of the properties available nationwide to rent were within the RS/HAP limits for a couple/one parent with one child. This is less than half of those available in this category last May (69 properties).
• The majority of the properties available nationwide to rent within the limits for the category of couple/one parent with one child were mainly one-bedroom properties; the properties’ suitability for this type of household is questionable.
Homelessness - the numbers
• There are 4868 people in emergency homeless accommodation nationally, 707 families with 1,496 children, and 2413 single people. (DECLG, August 2015)
• During one night in April 2015, there were 151 people without a safe place to sleep in Dublin City (DRHE 2015). This included 105 people sleeping rough and 46 people sheltering at the Nite Café. Unfortunately, Dublin is the only area where an official rough sleeper count takes place, making it difficult to get a countrywide rough sleeping picture. Figures from Cork Simon Community indicate that rough sleeping in Cork City increased seven-fold in three years (2011-2014).
• In December 291 extra emergency beds were made available (Dublin and Cork), they are all or almost all are in use, (beds in Cork winding down since March 31st).
• In December the Simon Communities reported a 41% increase in the numbers of individuals and families around the country turning to our services for help over a two year period.
• There are 90,000 people on the Social Housing waiting list (Housing Agency 2014)
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 over 40 years. The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 6,000 individuals 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.