Thursday 29 September 2016

Rental market is not suited to the needs of families

Published 24/08/2015 | 02:30

Young prospective parents lying on the couch while using the ebook
Young prospective parents lying on the couch while using the ebook

Rising property and rental costs don't just frustrate our housing ambitions, they also impact on much wider aspects of our family and social lives - as indicated by the results of the REA first-time buyer survey published today.

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The data show that the average age of Ireland's first-time home buyer has increased to 33, due largely to higher prices and their difficulties in obtaining mortgages.

For the first time, this is beyond the age at which women in Ireland give birth to their first baby, at 32.1 years.

In Dublin city, where prices are most expensive, the average age at which first-time buyers purchase a home has jumped to 35 - and is still rising.

There are indicators that couples who once postponed marriage and family in an attempt to save up for that elusive first home have now accepted their lot and are having babies before buying.

The fact that Irish children are now more likely to be born into rented houses and apartments will also have an impact on their lives, especially given the state of the rental market in Ireland, which has essentially evolved for professional singles and students.

The common tenancy lease of just one year on average and the lack of long-term rental security - as is usual on the continent, where family rental is common - means that children who are born under rented roofs are far more likely to experience disruption in their lives and are more likely to move homes and schools than their predecessors.

There are also more worrying consequences for children being born in rental accommodation - especially when high-rise apartment living is involved. Documentaries have increasingly shown "trapped" families who are forced to remain in small, cramped, one- and two-bed apartments due to economic circumstances.

In recent years, we have also seen increasing news headlines about young children being killed in falls from high apartment windows and balconies.

Once again, there are a range of reasons why couples are waiting longer to buy - the lack of construction, periods of emigration which the REA says has postponed purchasing for up to five years, and tougher lending conditions and regulations.

And Irish families are not having children in rental accommodation out of choice. REA members have observed that the age of first-time buyers falls to the mid-20s in towns with multinational employers and cheaper property prices.

Irish Independent

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