NABCO, Ireland’s co-operative housing provider, has published a Housing Sentiment Survey that explores the issues faced by members of Irish households. This is the first research of its type that asks ordinary people about the make-up of their household, the challenges that they face, and their housing aspirations.
The report finds that many tenants in private rental accommodation are spending an unsustainable portion of their income on housing, are unaware of their rights, and are afraid of losing their homes. It also finds major differences emerging between the experiences of Dubliners and the rest of the country.
Social housing tenants were also asked about their experiences and they rated security of tenure and affordable rents as being among the best things about their accommodation. Social housing tenants were positive about their communities as a whole, rating their location, type of neighbourhood and proximity to friends as key benefits.
The survey also asked people about proposed new rules from the Central Bank requiring 20% deposits from home purchasers. The response was overwhelmingly negative with 9 in 10 people believing that the rules would make it harder for people looking to buy a home and only 15% believing it would benefit the wider housing market.
November 2014 ‘Housing Sentiment Survey’ Key Findings
Life in private rent
A quarter of all households live in private rented accommodation. People have been in their current private rented accommodation for three years on average and 1 in five people have been in their current rented house for more than five years.
Renters in Ireland spend 30% of their income on average on their accommodation. People on low incomes of less than €20k and people over 55 are spending a higher proportion of their income on rent (34% and 36%). Dubliners in private rental accommodation spend 35% of their monthly income on housing.
42% of Dubliners have seen their rent increase in the last 18 months, in the rest of the country, 19% have had this experience. 67% of Dubliners expect their rent to increase in the next 18 months, 29% of people in the rest of Ireland expect their rent to go up. In total, 44% of all renters expect their rent to go up in the next 18 months.
23% of all tenants are afraid of losing their home. The figures are worst for those with incomes of less that €20k where 45% of people are afraid of losing their home. Nearly one third of tenants (32%) did not know if they had any formal lease and only 7% identified themselves as having a Part Four tenancy – even though Part Four generally applies to any tenancy greater than 6 months*. One third of tenants feel that they don’t know their rights and 4 in 10 don’t know where to look for help.
Price, living conditions and the running costs of accommodation are the most important criteria for tenants when choosing a home. While just over 7 in 10 tenants feel that their current accommodation is meeting their needs, 1 in 4 tenants report that they have had problems with their house that haven’t been fixed and a further 1 in 4 say that issues with the property was their main reason for their last house move.
* Under Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, if you have been renting for at least 6 months and haven’t been given a written notice of termination, you automatically acquire security of tenure in 4-year cycles. Any tenancy, therefore, that has lasted more than 6 months is a ‘Part 4 tenancy’ or a ‘further Part 4 tenancy’.
13% of all households in Ireland have someone who is looking to move out and the main reason (68%) is wanting to start their own household. The figures equate to 215,000 people looking to move and a potential 150,000 new households. This figure shows the full scale of demand beyond the 90,000 households on local authority housing waiting lists.
Two thirds of people looking to move out say that lack of finance is a major barrier to moving out and 41% say that shortages of properties is a significant obstacle. The figures suggest that 150,000 new households would be formed if housing were available and affordable.
One in five 18 – 34 year olds are living with their parents and a third of them are living in households with 3 or more adults. Of those 18 – 34 year olds who have moved out, 43% are living in private rented accommodation and they are half as likely as other age groups to own their own home.
One in ten Irish people has put their name on the waiting list for social housing at some point. Tenants of social housing listed the greatest benefits as being affordable rents (73%) and security of tenure (55%). Despite their housing challenges, only 5% of Dubliners have placed their names on a Local Authority social housing waiting list. In the rest of Ireland, 11% of people have applied for social housing.
People who live in social housing are more positive about their communities than the population as a whole. 33% of social housing tenants listed location and being near to family and friends as being among the best things about their accommodation. These factors were identified as positives by 13% of all respondents.
Central Bank proposals
8 in 10 respondents were aware of the Central Bank proposals that most new mortgages would require loan to value ratios of 80% or less. 9 in 10 adults believed that this would make it harder for people looking to buy a home and only 15% believed that it would have a positive or very positive impact on the housing market overall.
Speaking about the first Housing Sentiment Survey NABCO CEO Kieron Brennan said: “This survey is the first of its kind in Ireland, looking beyond the price of housing to try to explore the experiences of people in their homes. We’ve found ample evidence to show the full scale and extent of the housing crisis in Ireland and its impact on families. Nearly one in four tenants in the private rental sector are afraid of losing their home, while many households are spending an unsustainable portion of their income on rents and are unaware of their tenancy rights.
He continued: “The figures in the survey also show major pent up housing demand. More than 1 in 10 households where someone would like to move out but can’t. The high price of accommodation and a shortage of properties are identified as the main barriers to people starting their own households. 9 in 10 people agree that the Central Bank proposals are going to make this situation worse. This research provides a compelling case for greatly increasing the supply of housing in every segment of the housing market in the Dublin region especially.”
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