Co-operative Housing Ireland publishes annual housing sentiment survey

Co-operative Housing Ireland’s second annual Housing Sentiment Survey, published today, has confirmed a worsening housing situation across the country for tenants in its year on year comparison.

Long term rental as opposed to home ownership is becoming more the norm as 58% of tenants give up on the idea of home ownership and the duration of tenancies increased. Fear of losing accommodation is now a significant concern for many in the private rental market.

Key findings include:

– 32% nationally and almost half of Dublin’s tenants fear losing their homes
– One third of tenants spend more than 40% of net income on rent
– Quarter of moves due to high rents
– 50% increase in difficulty finding accommodation
– 58% give up on the idea of owning their own home
– Rents rise for 34% of tenants nationally with average 5% increases
– Housing for private rental tenants fell from 26% to 20%
– 70% of Dubliners expect rental increase in the next 18 months
– 56% say government isn’t doing enough for private rental tenants despite recent measures
Those in the lowest income brackets (€20,000) were found to be the most vulnerable with rent and heating expenditure accounting for 35% and 19% respectively of net monthly income.  At the same time many of those (31%) earning almost twice the national average with salaries in excess of €60,000 were fearful for their accommodation.

A significant divide between tenants in private rental accommodation in Dublin compared with the rest of the country has also emerged. Dublin rents  rose by 6.5% over the last year compared to the nationwide average of 5%.

Social housing tenants continue to give a positive assessment of their accommodation.  They rate the location of their homes, condition of their properties, reliability of their landlord, and the type of neighbourhood they live in more highly than those who do not live in social housing.

Life in private rent  

More than a quarter of all households live in rented accommodation.  In private rented accommodation, the average length of stay is 3 years 4 months, up from 2 years 10 months in 2014.  One quarter of private tenants have been in their current accommodation for more than five years and this rises to 30% in Dublin.

Renters in Ireland spend 34% of their income on average on their accommodation, up from 30% in 2014.  Dubliners spend a higher proportion of their income on rent than renters in the rest of the country – 36% in Dublin and 33% in the rest of Ireland.  The average rent in Dublin is €882 as against €555 in the rest of the country.  32% of renting households spend more than 40% of their incomes paying the rent.

40% of Dubliners have seen their rent increase in the last 18 months, the same result as in 2014.  In the rest of the country, however, 29% have had a rent increase, up from 19% last year.  Nationwide 50% of all renters (70% Dublin; 38% rest of the country) expect rent to increase in the next 18 months up from 44% in 2014.

Across the country, 32% of all tenants are afraid of losing their home whilst these figures increase to nearly half of all tenants in Dublin (48%).  Concern about the future of their tenancy affects all income groups and 31% of tenants with incomes in excess of €60,000 per annum are either very afraid or quite afraid of losing their accommodation.

A lack of knowledge about tenancy rights continues to be a source of concern.  39% of tenants reported having no formal tenancy agreement.  Only 5% of tenants reported having a ‘Part Four’ tenancy, the normal form of tenancy in Ireland, down from 7% in 2014.

Housing Demand

16% of all households have someone looking to move out and the main reason (56%) is wanting to start their own household, a 3% increase since 2014. The figures are equivalent to an increase from 215,000 people looking to move in 2014 to 265,000 this year. With an average household size of 2.7 people, this could equate to as many as 98,000 new households.   The figures reflect a higher level of accommodation sharing with the number of people not sharing their accommodation falling from 14% in 2014 to 11% in 2015.

The survey also showed a decline in the proportion of the housing market made up by private rental.  26% of respondents replied that they lived in private rental in 2014 against only 20% in 2015.  The figures appear to support reports of reduction in supply of private rental housing as landlords leave the market.

While demand for new housing has increased significantly over the last year, expectations of owning a home are low for people in the private rental sector.  Less than half (42%) of tenants in private rental think they will ever own their own home.  The figure is lowest in Dublin where 62% of renters do not know if they will ever own a home.  Households on low incomes are least confident about owning a property with 52% of households on less that €20,000 per annum certain they will never own their own home.

Social Housing

As in 2014, people in social rented housing continued to rate their accommodation more positively than the population as a whole.  69% of tenants rated affordable rents as being the best thing about living in social housing. 38% of tenants in social housing rated the location of their homes and proximity to friends and family as being among the best things about their housing, as against 16% and 11% among the population as a whole.  Social housing tenants were also more positive about the condition of their homes, their landlords, and the type of neighbourhood they lived in.  Security of tenure was the quality most valued by social housing tenants after low affordable rents.  Tenants have a more positive view of social housing than those who live in other tenures.

Government Performance

Recent government announcements in relation to limiting rent increases and increasing notice periods have improved public perception of the government.  Before the measures, 66% of respondents felt the government was not doing enough to support tenants in the private rental sector.  This fell to 56% after the measures were announced.

Commenting on the results of the second Housing Sentiment Survey, Co-operative Housing Ireland CEO Kieron Brennan, said: “The current housing crisis in Ireland is well known.  These figures help to illustrate that the impact is not just on the worst off, but that the effects are being felt throughout society.  Half of tenants in Dublin are afraid of losing their home and a quarter of tenants have had to move because of rent increases.

He continued: “With a year-on-year study like this, we can begin to see emerging patterns and the increasing numbers of people sharing accommodation while stating that they would like to start their own household suggests that over-crowding may be a growing concern.  Clearly, respondents expect a lot more from government and other stakeholders in their efforts to address this growing crisis.”