30th March 2023
March Locked Out of the Market Report Finds Lowest Number of HAP Properties Ever Seen in the Locked Out Series
The Simon Communities of Ireland’s quarterly Locked Out of the Market report, from March 2023, shows just 29 properties were available to rent within a discretionary rate of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme. This is the lowest number of HAP properties recorded by the Locked Out of the Market series. It also signifies the lowest proportion of properties within HAP rates at 4.3% compared to 10.8% in March 2022.
For the second time since the publication of this report, there were no properties available within a standard HAP rate across the four household types.
The report found 672 properties were available to rent at any price within the 16 areas over the three dates surveyed (in March). This is an 11% (85 properties) decrease from the 757 available in the December 2022 Locked Out report
70% (472) of properties available to rent at any price, were located within the three Dublin areas studied. Portlaoise had the lowest number of homes available to rent with just three properties available over the three days. Limerick City Centre and Limerick City Suburbs had four properties available in each area. 12 of the 16 study areas experienced a decrease in the availability of properties to rent, with the exception of Athlone, Galway City Suburbs, Sligo Town, and Portlaoise.
Wayne Stanley, Executive Director at the Simon Communities of Ireland, said:
“Our March 2023 Locked Out of the Market report found no properties at the standard rate of HAP and just 29 properties within discretionary HAP rates; the lowest ever number found since this research series began in 2015. In the context of the lifting of the moratorium these are very stark numbers. In the real world, when we look at these numbers through the lens of the
people we support out of homelessness, the private rental market is no longer an option.
The consequences of this have been playing out for some time with growing levels of long-term homelessness and individuals and families unsustainably topping up the payments, in order to exit or avoid homelessness.
Even at this late hour, we are calling on the Government to consider reversing their decision to lift the eviction ban. Keeping the ban in place would give the Government time. With that time, we propose that they embed tenants in situ scheme and implement the Simon Bill. This is a homeless prevention measure that targets families and individuals in the rental market who are at risk of homelessness from eviction. Enacting this Bill would prevent the need for widespread eviction bans in the future and enable protections for those more vulnerable to housing insecurity.”
As seen in many recent Locked Out reports, the supply of properties within HAP limits are predominantly available in Dublin; 21 (72.4%) of the total 29 HAP properties were found in the three Dublin areas examined. Dublin has a discretionary HAP rate of 50% compared to 35% for the rest of the country.
11 of the 16 areas had no HAP properties available to rent in any household category within standard or discretionary limits. These were Athlone, Cork City Centre, Cork City Suburbs, Galway City Centre, Galway City Suburbs, Co. Leitrim, Limerick City Suburbs, Limerick City Centre, Sligo Town, Portlaoise, and Waterford. Dundalk and Kildare were the only areas outside of Dublin to have properties affordable under discretionary HAP rates.
Single person households received an increased HAP rate to match what was available to couples in June 2022. The report found eight properties within discretionary HAP rates for both single people and couples.
14 properties were available within the discretionary HAP rate for families with one child. These, plus an additional seven were available for families with two children under a discretionary HAP rate.
“We should acknowledge that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage have made some recent amendments to the HAP scheme, including a guarantee payment to landlords, where the tenant defaults on payment of contribution to HAP. Effective from May 1st, these changes are welcome and are a recognition of the pressure on those households, but sadly they are not sufficient in the context of the current crisis.
The Department has also written to each Local Authority to instruct them to target acquisitions on HAP or RAS tenants under Notices to Quit and has increased their social housing acquisition targets to 1,500 in 2023. Again, these are positive changes, but we know that this process is taking time. The lifting of the moratorium before some of the potential in these schemes has delivered is beyond disappointing in the abstract, but almost beyond belief in the context of the thousands of Notice of Terminations coming in April, as shown by the latest Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) reports.
A recent report from the RTB show that 4,741 eviction notices were received in Q3 2022. Homeless services are already stretched beyond capacity. We are seeing people – such as Gerry and Adam mentioned in our Locked Out of the Market Report – who are working full-time, while living in emergency homeless accommodation. In the past, employment was a way out of homelessness and secured you a place in the rental market but a complete lack of affordability in the market is trapping people in homelessness.”