Housing collapse banishes lost generation to renting limbo
A GENERATION of young Irish families has been forced into renting rather than buying their own home.
Uncertainty about falling property prices and a drying up of mortgage finance has led to an almost 50pc increase in the numbers renting. Many young couples who would have been expected to buy find themselves in renting limbo.
New census figures show there was a 47pc increase in the number of households renting between 2006 and 2011.
During the same period, the home ownership rate fell from almost 75pc to 69.7pc -- a sharp drop, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The census also flagged a ticking time-bomb for the Government and banks, with one in 12 households with a mortgage headed by an unemployed person.
Just over 50,000 mortgaged homes are headed by a person who is out of work; in 51pc of these cases no one in the house has a job.
There were 323,007 households in rented accommodation in 2006 and this jumped to 474,788 in 2011.
Experts said the spike in renting is a reflection of the property crash.
"Obviously, there are people who are afraid of buying and there are people who sold and opted to rent rather than get back in... this is natural," said mortgage broker Karl Deeter.
Mr Deeter warned that when credit is eventually released, the effect will be to drive prices up, particularly in cities.
The number of households rented either from a private landlord or a voluntary group rose by more than 63pc to 320,319, while the numbers renting from a local authority jumped 22pc to 129,033.
And three-quarters of occupied flats are rented.
According to the 2011 census, there are 1.9 million dwellings in the State -- a rise of more than 225,000 since 2006.
However, there has been a marked slowdown in the number of new dwellings.
From 2002 to 2006, there was a 21pc increase in housing stock -- this fell to 12.7pc between 2006 and 2011.
The number of vacant houses also dropped, although there was a rise in the number of empty apartments.
In April 2011, 289,000 homes were unoccupied, accounting for 17pc of the housing stock.
These included 168,000 houses, 61,000 apartments and almost 60,000 holiday homes.
Since 2006 the number of vacant houses has fallen by 4pc -- although in some areas such as Dublin the drop was more than 30pc.
At the same time, the number of vacant apartments rose by a massive 48pc as developers were unable to shift unsold stock.
The small number of buyers left in the market mostly bought houses instead of apartments.
The CSO's census profile, 'The Roof over our Heads -- Housing in Ireland', gives a snapshot of the typical Irish householder.
Despite a rise in the popularity of apartment living, the typical person still lives in a detached house in an urban area with mains water and sewerage, oil-fired central heating and internet access.
The census also threw up some interesting facts.
Tulsk, in Co Roscommon, is officially the country's worst ghost town with 51pc of all dwellings unoccupied, while Castlemagner in Co Cork was the fastest growing "town".