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Monday 1 May 2017

We’re becoming a land of renters – but bedsit rules are hampering homeless

The ‘average’ weekly rent across the country stands at €155.89 – up just over €20, or 14.8pc (Stock picture)
The ‘average’ weekly rent across the country stands at €155.89 – up just over €20, or 14.8pc (Stock picture)

Ryan Nugent and Paul Melia

Nearly half-a-million households are now renting, with one-in-10 paying more than €300 a week for the privilege.

Major changes in the rental market are outlined in the latest Census figures, which also showed how a clampdown on bedsits has changed the way we live.

Tighter regulations on bedsits may be preventing homeless people from getting accommodation.

The numbers renting rose by more than 22,000 to 497,111. More than 50,000 of them now pay above €300 a week in rent. In 2011, the figure was just under 19,000.

The 'average' weekly rent across the country stands at €155.89 - up just over €20, or 14.8pc. The rental market is most dense in the more urban areas of the country, such as Dublin, Galway and Limerick.

Labour's housing spokeswoman Jan O'Sullivan said: "We have moved to being a rental-heavy country, with fewer people living in homes they actually own."

However, bedsits only made up 0.6pc of the rental market, with chief economist at the ESRI John Fitzgerald suggesting regulations on standards had come at the wrong time. The laws effectively banned shared bathrooms and landlord-controlled heating systems.

Crisis

He said: "It's the danger of introducing regulations without thinking through the implications. We've gone for much tighter regulation in areas and in the long run that's a good thing - but if you time it wrong, when you have a housing crisis, there are effects which you may not really have wanted. There may be people who are homeless today who could have had a bedsit."

The number of Census forms filled out decreased by more than 1,000 in correlation with a rise in the average number of people living in private households - from 2.73 people to 2.75.

However, an alarming number of elderly people are living alone - particularly in rural areas of the country.

Some 27pc of 587,284 elderly people aged over 65 surveyed said they lived alone, rising to 35pc over 75 and 45pc over 85.

Meanwhile, the number of homes completed over the past five years could be more than 30pc below official figures.

The Department of Housing said almost 48,000 units were built between April 2011 and April 2016, but the CSO said that just 2pc of the country's housing stock - some 33,436 homes - was built in the five years leading up to Census 2016.

Irish Independent

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