Private Rental Sector Remains Severely Challenging for Rent Supplement/HAP Recipients, Simon Communities Report Shows

Just 8% of private rental properties on were available within Rent Supplement (RS)/Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) levels in November 2018

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The Simon Communities of Ireland have called for the implementation of many of the proposals included in the new amended Residential Tenancies Bill 2018, currently under consideration in the Dáil. The organisation is concerned that there are whole areas of the country where it is almost impossible for people depending on Rent Supplement (RS)/Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) for their housing. The analysis from the latest ‘Locked Out’ snapshot study conducted by the homelessness and housing organisation found that recipients of RS/HAP are locked out of 92% of the rental market.  

This is the 13th edition of the Simon Communities’ ‘Locked Out of the Market’ report, which reviews the number of properties advertised to rent on within Department of Social Protection RS limits and Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government HAP limits. The study was conducted over three consecutive days – 21st, 22nd and 23rd of November 2018 – and found that just 8% (48) of rental properties on the site were suitable for renting by HAP recipients on those dates. Other key findings show that:

  • 92% (521 properties) of all properties (569) available to rent during the three-day snapshot study period were above RS/HAP limits. This figure was 94% in August 2018, and 91.5% in November 2017.
  • 51% decrease in the number of properties available to rent in November 2018 (569), compared to the first ‘Locked out of the Market’ study in May 2015, when 1,150 properties were available.
  • Only five properties were available to rent within RS/HAP limits across all study areas for a single person on the dates surveyed.

Renters are experiencing the challenges of holding onto their homes in a private rented market that offers little security; there are not enough affordable places to live. This snapshot study illustrates people’s lived experience while trying to navigate the process of finding somewhere to live while on RS or HAP. They search for suitable local accommodation within their budget and find too few properties available – or none at all, and rents that are beyond their reach.

Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, Paul Sheehan, said that the snapshot study illustrates the need to remain focused on social and affordable housing as the private rental market continues to struggle to meet demand in the ongoing housing crisis.

“The increase in social housing builds last year is welcomed, as is the traction we see in large urban areas with the introduction of Homeless HAP for single people and families. But the pace needs to be accelerated.

“All options need to be considered in addressing the housing crisis, particularly for those homeless or at risk. The Simon Communities of Ireland urge the new amended Residential Tenancies Bill 2018, currently under consideration in the Dáil, be expedited through the Oireachtas so proposals to address many of the loopholes in the existing bill around tenants’ security of tenure be implemented as soon as possible.  These proposals could potentially make a huge difference to those who are affected by the lack of affordable housing in the private rental market and help take pressure off over-burdened emergency accommodation.

“Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) provided for in existing legislation need to be properly monitored and continuously enforced by the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). Loopholes such as the Section 34 (of the Residential Tenancy Act) clause allowing for evictions due to reasons of sale or renovation, are being misused. More broadly, it is clear that the private sector is struggling to deliver the level of affordable housing needed in this country in the long term. The Simon Communities of Ireland believe it is vital that the State, in conjunction with Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies, build and invest in social and affordable housing across all tenure types nationwide.”

Almost 10,000 people were forced to start 2019 in emergency accommodation. Without an accessible private rental sector or affordable housing, people have nowhere to go if they cannot afford to rent. The State is reliant on the private rental sector to deliver social housing through the Housing Assistant Payment; this continues to be challenging for people stuck in emergency accommodation because the supply is often not there. This study shows that the situation continues to be extremely difficult for people on Rent Supplement or HAP, particularly those who are looking for one and two bedroom homes. It is alarming that in some of the country’s most-populated urban centres, there is absolutely nowhere to rent for people depending on HAP for their housing. Not one property within Rent Supplement/HAP was available across any household category in Limerick City Centre and Waterford City Centre.”
                                                                                                                                 About Simon Communities

The Simon Communities support over 13,000 men, women and children. We have 50 years of experience providing homeless, housing and treatment services to people facing the trauma and stress of homelessness. We are a network of independent Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East, responding to local needs and supported by a National Office in the areas of policy, research, communications and best practice. We share common values and ethos in tackling homelessness and, informed by our grassroots services, we campaign for more effective policies and legislation regionally, nationally and at European level. Whatever the issue, Simon’s door is always open for as long as we are needed. For more information, please visit


For media queries and interview requests

Liam Corcoran

Communications & Campaigns Officer

Tel: 085 806 5141


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