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Threshold urges government to improve housing options for single people

28 May 2021

Charity points out that evictions moratorium has been effective in reducing family homelessness, but situation for single people remains particularly challenging

As some landlords look to increase rents by up to 8%, Threshold warns that rents are already unaffordable and “robust” regulation is needed

National housing charity Threshold has highlighted the lack of affordable housing options for single people living in Ireland, as the Department of Housing today published its homelessness data for April. The data shows that a total of 5,889 adults accessed emergency accommodation in April (compared to 5,894 in March) with a total of 2,193 children (compared to 2,166).

CEO of Threshold, John-Mark McCafferty said: “We welcome that the national conversation around housing over the last few weeks has very much turned to the plight of those unable to access the security of home ownership: those who are likely facing into renting for life and ever-increasing rents each year, with little to no security of tenure. Excluding Dublin, there was a 7.1% yearly increase in rents highlighted in Daft.ie’s most recent rental report.

“While the dream of home ownership is seemingly out of reach for all those on limited incomes, there has recently been an increased focus on single people in particular; people in employment with what is deemed a good wage. We learned only a few weeks ago that a single person on the median income can only hope to purchase a home in seven counties in Ireland.

“The fallout of this can be seen in April’s homelessness figures, published today. While there was a slight increase in the number of families and children in homelessness between March and April, overall, the moratorium on evictions has made a significant dent in family homelessness. Between April 2020 and April 2021, family homelessness has declined by 31% child homelessness has declined by 29%.

“The same cannot be said for single people: there are now 186 more single adults experiencing homelessness compared the same time last year, an increase of 4%.”

“We would urge the Government to build on the success of the moratorium in reducing family homelessness, by prioritising the improvement of security of tenure in the private rented sector. We would also urge them to consider the design and delivery of affordable housing options for single people. This must include: increasing Housing Assistance Payment rates for single people; increasing the single person social hosing provision; and the development of affordable housing schemes for one-income households on a typical wage.”

The release of the Department of Housing’s homelessness data today coincides with reports that some tenants are facing rent increases of up to 8% as Covid-related protections for renters come to an end.

Speaking on this issue, Chairperson of Threshold, Aideen Hayden said: “Complex changes to rent regulation during the pandemic have understandably led to a large degree of confusion for both landlords and tenants as to when rent can be reviewed. Many believed the ban on rent increases ran alongside each of the moratoriums on evictions – this was not the case. Rent increases were banned for all people during the first moratorium only. A landlord is permitted to increase rent by 4% per year, pro-rata. This means that landlords who haven’t increased the rent in over a year, are now permitted to increase it by more than 4%.

“The bigger picture, of course, is that rents are already above affordable levels, and they continue to rise. The Rent Pressure Zone rules have had some impact in moderating rent increases, but these are coming to an end later this year, and they need to be replaced by robust rent predictability measures. This requires an increase in social housing output and a ramping-up of cost-rental provision and affordable purchase.”