Locked Out of the Market Report - The Gap between HAP Limits and Market Rents
Locked Out of the Market is a quarterly report published by the Simon Communities of Ireland based on a snapshot survey conducted over three consecutive days. This latest version published in March 2023, covers three days in March 2023 and uses data from Daft.ie (an Irish property website that lists the asking prices for properties to both rental and buy) to track the number of properties advertised to rent that fall within Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits.
This is the twenty-ninth snapshot study from the Simon Communities and reflects the harsh reality of those trying to find a home to rent in this period. The March 2023 Locked Out of the Market report "shows a comparable decrease in the number of properties available to rent in the private rental market and a record low number available through HAP". They also note that the "report comes in the context of a private rental market affected by a contraction in supply, increase in rental prices, and an overall lack of affordability.....Daft.ie found that rent prices increased nationwide by 13.7% in 2022; this is the second highest year-on-year increase in market rents since the Daft Report was launched in 2005".
Rent increases putting pressure on households
Average monthly rents are now at €1,733 with increases noted across both rural and urban areas alongside a reduction in supply. Rents in Dublin rose by 13 per cent, Cork by 15 per cent and rents in Galway, Limerick and Waterford cities and in County Leitrim rose by about 20 per cent in 2022.
These increases in cost coupled with the contraction in supply come at a time when many will be forced to look for new accommodation due to the lifting of the eviction moratorium and are unlikely now to find it at an affordable rate. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) report 4,741 Notices of Termination (NoT) were received in Q3 2022 before the eviction ban was introduced.
They found there were just 672 properties available to rent at any price within 16 areas  over the three dates surveyed. This is a drop of 85 properties (11 per cent) on the number available (757) in the Report from December 2022. Yet again, the majority of these are to be found in Dublin, 472 or 70 per cent of the total. Limerick, both city and suburbs had only four properties in each and only three properties were found in Portlaoise. Of the 16 areas studied, only Athlone, Galway City suburbs, Sligo Town and surprisingly, Portlaoise recorded an increase in the availability of properties with the other 12 areas recording a decrease.
Availability of properties at HAP limits
The report notes that for only the second time in the 29 reports to date, there were no properties available within a standard HAP rate across the four household types.  A mere 29 properties were found within a discretionary HAP rate.  This is the lowest number of HAP properties recorded by the Locked Out of the Market series.
Social Housing, not Social Housing Supports
The Housing Assistance Payment is not delivering as a form of social housing support. It is not providing choice, security or affordability. The lack of availability means that either the tenant or Local Authority ends up paying more than expected, or allowed for, within their respective budgets. For those who cannot make up that difference, homelessness is the most likely outcome. The private rented sector is not the solution to a public housing crisis. In fact, a 2019 Report by Focus Ireland found that 70 per cent of families accessing emergency accommodation in Dublin in 2019 came from the private rented sector. As the numbers of those having to access emergency and homeless accommodation, continues to rise, more needs to be done to ensure secure, sustainable, affordable housing is available to all.
Double Social Housing Stock by 2030
Other European countries which we would like to emulate have a social housing stock that is 20 per cent of their overall housing stock compared to 9 per cent in Ireland. The real need for social housing is under reported as those in HAP tenancies, DSGBV refuges, Direct Provision and many at risk of losing their home due to mortgage arrears are not included. We estimate the real numbers in housing need are closer to 133,000. To achieve the target of 20 per cent by 2030, Government must double its Housing for All targets at an additional cost of €1.4bn, meaning the overall construction budget would be closer to €3bn in 2023. This investment will require a skilled workforce. Inclusion of a new construction apprenticeship programme whereby one in every fifteen is required to be an apprentice earning at least the Living Wage must form part of any rebuilding scheme. This would also result in an additional 60,000 properties, currently being used as social housing, entering the private rented sector for use by private tenants.
 : Cork City Centre, Cork City Suburbs, Dublin City Centre, Dublin City North, Dublin City South, Galway City Centre, Galway City suburbs, Limerick City Centre, Limerick City suburbs, Portlaoise, Kildare (selected areas), Athlone, Sligo Town, Dundalk, Co. Leitrim, and Waterford City Centre.
 The four household categories examined are as follows, Single person , Couple, Couple/One Parent and One Child and a Couple/One Parent and Two Children. The study counts one-bedroom units for single people and couples, two-bedroom units for couples/one parent and one child, and two bedrooms or more for couples/one parent with two children. It should be noted that this represents a change in methodology from earlier iterations of this study, whereby one-bedroom units had been counted as viable options for the couples/one parent and one children category. This change came into effect in the July 2020 publication.
 This discretionary rate can be up to an additional 50% of the standard rate in Dublin, and up to an additional 35% of the standard rate elsewhere.