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Sentiment among those living in private rented sector is bleak

Posted on November 14, 2020: by Aideen Hayden

Aideen Hayden
Chairperson, Threshold

The findings of Threshold’s latest Tenant Sentiment Survey paint a grim picture of people's experiences of renting in Ireland. Threshold surveyed over 150 tenants to assess their sentiment and outlook on the private rented sector. The reality is that while one in four people rent in Ireland today, very few of them want to rent – only 15% – and most want to own their own home or get secure social housing. This means that people are not renting by choice, but because they either cannot afford to buy or cannot access a mortgage or social housing. This number is down even further on previous Threshold surveys, showing an increasing dissatisfaction with renting.

Nine in ten renters reported that they had experienced difficulty in finding a home in the private rented sector

 

Nowhere to call home

Seven out of ten respondents were renting for more than six years, telling us that renting is here to stay for many, but over half had been living in their current home for less than one year, which means that more and more renters are being forced to move around. More than half of those surveyed had been forced to leave their previous home with landlords leaving the market and wanting the property back being the most common reason. Nine in ten renters reported that they had experienced difficulty in finding a home in the private rented sector.

More than half of all those surveyed said they had issues with standards and repairs. The most common of these were issues with damp and mould, followed by lighting, ventilation and heating – all basic necessities.

Given these findings, it is unsurprising that people do not want to live in the sector: the lack of security of tenure in the sector is having a real human impact.

Almost 60% of those surveyed said they are paying more than 30% of their take-home pay on rent, and one in five were paying almost half of their take-home pay on rent, leaving them short of basic necessities.  Every time Threshold undertakes a Tenant Sentiment Survey, the proportion of people’s income that is being paid on rent has increased.

In most cases, it is now more expensive to pay rent than service a mortgage. For example, the monthly mortgage payment for a three-bed property in Dublin 15 is a potential €1,152, while the average monthly rent on the same property is €1,862. The monthly mortgage payment for a two-bed apartment in Cork City could be as little as €777, while the average asking rent is €1,182[

Renters are also getting older with over 65% over the age of 34 and worried about ever getting a mortgage and being able to pay rent in older age.

 

We are particularly concerned about the far-reaching consequences of renters falling into debt as a result of the burden of rent arrears and the absence of a real alternative to renting, particularly as people age and can’t access a mortgage.

Covid-19 impact

More than one-third of tenants stated that their income had been reduced as a result of Covid-19 restrictions. But only 37% of those who lost income applied for rent supplement or HAP to help them pay their rent, which shows a serious lack of knowledge of the supports they could access. 39% of respondents said that they felt less secure in their rented home now, than they had prior to the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions.

This is not surprising given the large numbers of those working in hospitality and tourism, whose incomes have been severely impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, who rent. They face an uncertain future as they struggle to pay rents that far exceed the cost of a mortgage.

We are particularly concerned about the far-reaching consequences of renters falling into debt as a result of the burden of rent arrears and the absence of a real alternative to renting, particularly as people age and can’t access a mortgage. A real alternative is needed to our current rental market which sees people trapped in accommodation they cannot afford, which is increasingly insecure and often in poor condition. Without a proper social rental system and more affordable homeownership options, the State will ultimately pay a hefty price in order to support older people's housing needs by relying on an inadequate private rental market.

We would like to remind readers that Threshold provides free, independent and confidential advice and support to tenants in the private rented sector nationwide. If you are at risk contact us on our Freephone helpline number, 1800 454 454 which operates Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm.

Read more about Threshold’s Tenant Sentiment Survey 2020 here

 

[i] Daft Q1 2020 Rental Report