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Concerns raised over rent pressures

Tuesday, 13th February, 2018 10:24am

A charity in Cork is calling for Government action over soaring rent costs in the area, as revealed by a new survey.

Focus Ireland has expressed concern over the new Daft.ie report, which shows rent costs continuing to rise in Cork city and county as well as the continuing housing shortage.

In Cork, the increase in rents was 7.7 per cent during the year to December 2017, up to an average of €1,180. A one bedroom apartment in Cork city now costs an average of €897 per month.

There were 3,143 properties available to rent nationwide on Thursday 1 February. This is the lowest number ever recorded for this time of year since the series started in 2006.

Focus Ireland has called for more urgent Government action to tackle rent prices as the new report shows rents have shot up to a new all-time record of €1,227 per month nationally, the seventh quarter in a row a new all-time high has been set.

The charity warned that the range of Government measures designed to address the rental crisis has had very limited impact so far.

Cork Focus Ireland manager Ger Spillane said: “The Daft report clearly show that actions the Government has taken – such as rent pressure zones – have not been implemented effectively.  Average rents of almost €900 in Cork city for a one bedroom apartment tells its own story. While the rent pressure zones have helped curtail rent increases for some sitting tenants, there are so many loopholes in the legislation and it is still far too easy for landlords to ignore.

“While we recognise that Government has taken a number of measures, the evidence is clear that these still fall far short of what is needed. These massive rent increases are like a fever that needs to be controlled if we are not to see thousands of families, including those on decent wages, forced out of their homes. Rent pressure zones are failing not because they are a bad idea, but because of the failure of effective implementation.”

Mr Spillane said there was no monitoring to check if landlords were abiding by the four per cent rent increase cap when one tenant leaves and a new tenant signs a new lease.

“Focus Ireland has called for effective monitoring and penalties to be put in place for any landlords that are caught breaking the rent cap in a rent pressure zone. The majority of landlords are decent and want to abide by the laws, but must be very frustrating for them to see other landlords break the rules with impunity.”

The survey showed that those who live in the county environs have endured an even higher percentage rise than that experienced in the city, an average increase of 8.6 per cent, up to €864 per month.

From their lowest point, rents have risen by between 30 and 40 per cent in much of Munster, but by 65 per cent in Cork city. Across Munster, there are 20 per cent fewer homes available to rent compared to this time last year.

Furthermore, room costs across Munster rose by almost 10 per cent on average during 2017. The average cost of renting a one bed in Cork county now stands at €593, or 8.5 per cent more than on 1 February 2017.

Mr Spillane said: “Our frontline staff here in Cork city and county are still dealing with people who have become homeless from the rental sector as rents have been hiked up and they can't afford them. There needs to be a much wider range of Government actions taken to keep protecting tenants and keep them in their homes."

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