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Threshold criticises continued rent increases

21 December 2020

Moderation in increases is welcome, but rents remain too high, says charity

National housing charity Threshold has cautiously welcomed the moderation in rent increases seen in the Residential Tenancies Board’s (RTB) latest Rent Index, but warned that this moderation will not make Ireland’s private rented sector a viable tenure of choice.

Commenting on the latest index, Ann-Marie O’Reilly, Policy Officer, Threshold said: “While the moderation in rent increases is not to be dismissed, rents remain too high. The cost of renting, in many cases, is higher than a mortgage – renters need reductions in rents, not just a slightly smaller increase, year in and year out. Tenants reliant on HAP, in particular, will not be comforted by the moderation of rent increases, where they have to pay a ‘top-up’ to the landlord to meet such an increase.

“The 4.6% quarterly increase in average rent outside the Greater Dublin Area indicates business as usual when it comes to rent increases, which is striking given the moratorium on rent increases only ended in August. The average rent outside the GDA is €40 a month greater now than it was in Q2 2020. These increases put real pressure on renters – that’s €40 that could have paid a phone bill instead.

“Despite the general trend being one of moderation, there were quarterly increases of 8.5% in Galway City, 5.6% in Limerick City and 6.9% in Co. Kilkenny. While rents in some of these areas had dropped previously, they now exceed their Q3 2019 levels. There is a worrying annual increase of 8.8% in Waterford City – an average increase of €67 a month, which would cover the cost of Christmas dinner.”

Chairperson of Threshold, Aideen Hayden said: “Given that renters, in particular, are facing such financial uncertainty due to job losses on foot of Covid-19, there is a pressing need to transform the private rented sector into an affordable, secure tenure of choice. In 2019 the RTB was provided with increased powers to inspect breaches to the Rent Pressure Zone rules – we need to see the RTB taking the necessary action to enforce Rent Pressure Zone legislation.”

Threshold’s helpline will continue to operate over the Christmas period. The helpline will be available at 1800 454 454, from 10am until 4pm on 24, 25, 28, 29, 30 and 31 December and 1 January.