'There's a lot of fear'

Cork may be on the brink of a severe rise in homelessness as Ireland hits an all-time low in rental availability.

There were just 169 properties available to rent in Munster at the start of this month with rent prices across the province climbing by a staggering 13.7 per cent.

The stark figures were highlighted in the latest Daft.ie rental report which revealed that the average rent in Cork city is now €1,524 per month, having risen by 9.1 per cent in the last year.

The report showed that national rents have increased by 5.6 per cent and that there are currently just 2,455 rental homes available across the country. Less than 800 of these are outside of Dublin.

According to Edel Conlon, Southern Regional Manager for housing support charity Threshold, this increase, along with the rental shortage, will inevitably lead to a rise in people entering homeless services in Cork.

“There’s a lot of fear there. The Government has allowed the rents to increase and increase to unaffordable and unsustainable levels,” she told the Cork Independent.

Threshold, which runs advice centres across the country, is now seeing an increase in renters coming to the charity with eviction notices from their landlords.

In many cases, the eviction notices are invalid and are a result of landlords deciding to sell their property and leave the rental sector.

“We can’t stop every eviction. It’s very worrying to think of where these people are going to go if they are served notice,” said Ms Conlon.

With details of the Government’s Housing For All plan set to be released in September, as well as the recent re-opening of the construction sector, Ms Conlon said it could still take a couple of years before we see any kind of major improvement.

“The housing being produced tends to be at the high end, so people are being left behind who can’t afford those huge rents. We need affordable rental properties for the middle and low income earners,” she said.

In July, Threshold issued a report of its own revealing that just 26 per cent of renters in Ireland are doing so by choice with over half saying they rent because they are unable to buy their own home.

Threshold’s Tenant Sentiment Survey 2021 found that 88 per cent of renters found it extremely difficult to secure a home, with 12 per cent saying they rent because they cannot access social housing.

According to Sinn Féin TD for Cork South-Central Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, the Government is failing to tackle the ongoing rental crisis.

“If anyone wonders why we have a serious rental crisis, you only need to look at the cosy, insider culture in Government,” he said.

Deputy Ó Laoghaire added that if the Government had done what was necessary and banned rent increases at an earlier stage, many hard-pressed renters would have been saved from these rent hikes.

“The Government must commit to a dramatic increase in capital investment in affordable housing to rent and buy,” said the deputy.