Tuesday 31 May 2016

Cost of keeping roof over your head soars by €138 a week

That's before you buy food and clothes

Treacy Hogan

Published 30/04/2012 | 05:00


THE average cost of keeping a roof over your head has soared from €275 to more than €400 a week since the boom -- due mainly to larger and more expensive mortgages.

That means couples now have to find €21,466 a year after tax, or an extra €138 a week, before they buy food or clothes.

The increase is five times higher than inflation and highlights the burden on families who have taken on mortgages since 2006. In many cases, couples are paying these higher bills on incomes cut by redundancy and higher taxes.

The figures were compiled by the Irish Independent based on data made available by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). While mortgages remain the single biggest element of increased expense, they also reflect stiff increases in the cost of home heating oil, gas and electricity, telephone, maintenance and repair, and insurance.

Recent increases in variable mortgage repayments have also added considerably to the burden on householders.

And there are more on the way with a round of new property taxes, water charges, septic tank fees, and increase in rubbish collection fees.

The analysis of the cost of running a home -- covering the period between January 2006 and March 2012 -- comes at a time when more than 150,000 people are either in arrears or need a restructuring of their mortgage repayments.

The analysis found:

- The annual cost of running a home has risen from €14,300 to €21,466 in the past six years;

- In that time average mortgage repayments have jumped by €149 a week -- up from €116 to €265;

- The increase in domestic household costs reflect a 20.5pc increase in gas and 11.2pc in electricity prices last year.

Latest figures also show that more than 70,911 mortgage holders are currently in arrears -- or 9.2pc of the total. This compares with 62,970 accounts at the end of September.

And 75,000 mortgages have been restructured since the collapse of the property market.

Almost one in every 10 home-owners has fallen at least three months behind in their repayments, according to the Central Bank.

The bank is to carry out a survey of households in mortgage debt to identify any changes in the income and consumption patterns of mortgage holders since they bought their homes.

But some household costs have fallen. The analysis of CSO data shows the cost of home repairs, garden tools, electrical equipment, and other household gadgets have fallen significantly in that time.

Telephone and broadband charges have also dropped due to increased competition and the introduction of combined-bundle packages.

House insurance remains stubbornly high, running at more than €8 a week,despite the cost of rebuilding a home dropping considerably since the recession.

It has fallen only slightly, by just €1 a week, despite householders significantly revaluing downwards their contents and re-building costs in a bid to lower premiums.

The refusal to lower premiums to realistic levels has prompted criticism from the Consumers' Association of Ireland.


The additional burden on householders revealed by the CSO data is reinforced by the 17,794 homes whose electricity was disconnected in the past year. That is a 7pc increase on the 16,679 disconnected the previous year.

Gas was switched off in 5,089 properties last year.

Most of those disconnected were eventually reconnected after negotiating deals on their arrears (when you owe more than €100 for 60 days or more).

Around 130,000, or 10pc, of ESB customers are currently in arrears, a spokesman said.

And around 81,000 Bord Gais customers are behind on their energy bills, about 9pc of their 900,000 customers.

Pay-as-you-go gas meters were installed in 24,300 homes between January 2011 and March 2012, compared with just 1,260 in 2010.

Irish Independent

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