By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — Increased demand for a falling number of apartments in Dublin has seen rents soar by up to 50 percent in some parts of the city in the last year, according to an unpublished survey undertaken by the housing charity, Threshold.
Daithi Downey, manager of Threshold’s housing debt project, said the rental price crisis was being caused by a number of factors and would worsen when students returned in the autumn and exacerbate the bottleneck.
The average rent increase for the last year was about 20 percent and he expected it would be about the same this year.
“In some instances we have recorded people facing increases of up to 50 percent, which is absolutely enormous,” Downey said. “It is a very serious situation that has dramatic implications for the whole nature of the way the city works.”
The increases were leaving the low-paid unable to afford accommodation and increasing the number of homeless.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
“It is a problem that is beginning to be recognized but it is still very poorly understood,” he said.
The survey identified the cause of the problem as landlords pulling out of the market and cutting supply and increasing demand from a combination of Irish emigrants returning home, people being unable to afford to buy houses and move out of flats and refugees seeking asylum.
“The survey shows there are push and pull factors on the rents.
As the rents in the upper end of the market increase, they are pulling the lower rents up also.
“If investors stay out of the market for the next few months there will be another constriction on supply and the situation will worsen.”
Downey said they found a significant number of first-time buyers of homes had either decided they can’t buy at the moment or that they won’t buy – despite having an income that would afford home ownership but wouldn’t get them the ideal home they want in an area they are keen on.
“What they are doing is either holding out for a stabilisation in house prices, an increase in their own incomes or to save more for a larger deposit. They are competing at the budget end of the market with the lower income groups.
“We have found a number of people on incomes of about _28,000 who were renting some of the cheapest accommodation we recorded in an effort to save money. It was a deliberate decision by them to get something really cheap and save.
“The problem is compounded by landlords withdrawing rented stock, particularly in traditional flat and bed-sitter areas, and the houses being sold as family homes.
“This is obviously causing a contraction in supply and a push on rents in a situation where there is a burgeoning and deepening demand for accommodation.”
Downey said other elements are returning Irish emigrants and refugees seeking asylum.
“The private sector has been capable of absorbing returning Irish economic migrants amounting to 15,000 to 20,000 over the last two years,” Downey said.
“If you add the 3,000 or 4,000 refugees to that group, what has tended to happen is that the non-white immigrant has been