A new report by the Simon Communities of Ireland reveals that an average of just 5.5% of rental housing stock across the country is within standard Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits.
The report indicated that there has been some improvement in supply of affordable family accommodation in Dublin, where availability of rental property for families has increased since the previous ‘Locked Out’ snapshot study in July/August 2019. However, a notable shortage of one-bedroom housing for single people and couples was recorded in all study areas.
‘Locked Out of the Market Report XVI’, a snapshot study on ‘The Gap Between HAP Limits and Market Rents’, reveals that just 97 out of 1,753 properties available to rent in 16 areas over a three-day period from 10th to 12th December 2019 on Daft.ie, were affordable for those in receipt of standard Government-assisted housing payments. The report finds that:
- - - Just 97 properties available to rent during the three-day snapshot study period were within standard HAP limits.
· - Availability of rental properties increases to 796 properties (representing 45% of all rental properties available) when discretionary rates are included. However, just 16% (128) of these properties are available outside of Dublin city.
· - There were no properties available to rent within standard or discretionary HAP limits for a single person or couple across five study areas;
- Limerick City Centre,
- Waterford City Centre,
- Galway City Centre
- Cork City suburbs.
· - Just one or two properties were available for the single person or couple household categories in five study areas;
- Limerick City suburbs,
- Cork City Centre
Single people and couples remain disproportionately affected by affordable accommodation availability, with only six properties in total available to rent for single persons and 14 for couples within standard HAP limits. When discretionary HAP payments are applied, 40 properties were available for single person households.
The snapshot study indicates some welcome increases in availability of accommodation for HAP recipients, particularly in Dublin city, where the availability of accommodation within standard and Homeless HAP limits increased from 424 to 668 properties since the previous Locked Out study in July/August 2019. However, this rise was concentrated in properties for families. The HAP discretion rate in the Dublin region is 50%, compared to 20% outside Dublin.
National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, Wayne Stanley, said that the results illustrate how the lack of affordable accommodation in the private rental market is prolonging the current housing crisis.
“This Simon Communities study shows some of the challenges faced by HAP recipients to find a home on the rental market during this crisis. It is incredibly difficult, particularly for single people, to move on from emergency accommodation and homeless services when looking for HAP accommodation, because all too often there is nowhere else to go. In cases where accommodation is found, people are often having to resort to ‘topping up’, undermining the sustainability of that move on.
“On a positive note, this study shows signs of improvement in availability of accommodation for families in Dublin city compared to previous reports, which is to be welcomed. It is notable that in recent months there have been decreases in family homelessness in Dublin, where the most significant increases in availability of these HAP properties were found.
“However, there remains a lack of suitable accommodation within HAP limits, both in Dublin and around the country, particularly for single people and couples. In many of the areas surveyed with critically low levels of affordable accommodation, such as Cork and Galway city, we have also seen rises in homelessness over the past few months.
“There are now 10,448 people in emergency accommodation, 4,274 of whom are single or couples. These numbers have risen drastically since the start of this series of reports in May 2015. Two factors have contributed to this situation above all else; an over-reliance on a private rental sector that is inaccessible to many, and insufficient levels of social housing supply.
“The building rate of social housing is not currently at the level that is required to address the number of people in emergency accommodation or on housing waiting lists. For a sustainable long-term solution, there needs to be a significant and sustained increase in the supply of social and affordable housing across all tenure types nationwide. In the short-term, this report indicates that the discretion available to local authorities in HAP rates need to be revisited to continue to support individuals and families to move on from homelessness and to act as a preventative measure by providing the resources to those who have a home but need support to retain it.”
The full report: ‘Locked Out of the Market XVI: The Gap Between HAP Limits and Market Rents’ can be found online here.
Notes to editors:
*Discretionary top-up payments were introduced in July 2016, in recognition of the difficulty some recipients were having in securing affordable rental accommodation due to a lack of availability on the private rental market. In Dublin City, this discretionary rate is up to an additional 50% of the standard RS/HAP rate. The rate is 20% in other counties.
**Homeless HAP is a scheme operated by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and Cork City Council providing additional financial and related supports for homeless households in the Dublin and Cork regions.
The ‘Locked Out of the Market Report XVI’ is the 16th snapshot study of this kind and compares the findings to the previous studies providing indicative point-in-time data on the pressure in the private rental sector and reflects the lived experience of people trying to find a home to rent in the period between 10th – 12th December 2019.
 Combined totals for Dublin City Centre, Dublin City North and Dublin City South.