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94% of properties available to rent in Galway City are priced beyond the reach of people depending on state housing benefits, a snapshot study by the Simon Communities in Ireland has found.
‘Locked Out of the Market V: The Gap Between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’, conducted over three days this year – 30th, 31st of August and 1st of September, highlights the gap between rising rents and Rent Supplement/ Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) limits. This is the first Locked Out study undertaken since the increase in Rent Supplement/HAP limits in July 2016.
The study showed there were only 2 properties in Galway City that were within the Rent Supplement/HAP limits, out of the 36 properties that were available to rent over the three day study period. Single people and couples were the worst affected with no properties available to rent within the housing benefit limits. There was only 1 property available for a couple or parent with 1 child and 1 property available for a couple or parent with 2 children. The availability of rental properties in Galway City was also down by 50% compared to the previous study where there were 72 properties available.
Bill Griffin, CEO of Galway Simon Community, said the lack of affordable housing available will cause more people to become homeless. “The reality is that people cannot afford the current market rents that are continuously rising. This coupled with the extremely low availability of affordable housing means that more individuals and families will continue to be pushed into homelessness.”
Bill highlighted that the key to ending the homeless crisis is preventing homelessness. “Keeping people in their homes is essential and this is why homeless prevention initiatives such as the Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) are so important”, Bill added. He welcomed Minister Simon Coveney’s commitment to extend this initiative nationally to all people who are homeless but warned of the risk caused by any delay in implementation.
The CEO stressed the need for the strategy for the Private Rental Sector committed to in Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness to be fast-tracked and implemented in order to address these issues, and that it must include rent certainty and enhanced security of tenure for both landlords and tenants. “The rent stability measures introduced in November 2015 have not had the desired effect of slowing down the market and rising rents”, he stated, “rents need to be brought in line with real market rates and they need to be index linked, for example, to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Rent Supplement/HAP limits also need to be monitored and adjusted regularly to ensure they are in line with market rents. ”