Saturday 20 April 2019

Rent trap swallows half of working families' incomes

  • New report shows crippling cost of housing and rental crisis

  • Property tax regime changes to be delayed for another year

  • Working parents spending a fifth of monthly pay on childcare

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Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Households caught in the rent trap are spending as much as half their income on accommodation.

New research sets out how the housing crisis is hitting private sector renters hardest in and around Dublin.

It is hammering low-income families unless they qualify for social housing, where the position dramatically changes.

Families in social housing paid 12pc of their income in rent on average between 2006 and 2016, but private sector rents cost an average 27pc.

This rises sharply to more than half for those renting in Dublin, and among those lower-paid workers who miss out on social housing. Families who manage to buy houses actually spend a lower share of income on housing than renters, the data shows.

The stark numbers are from 'Exploring affordability in the Irish Housing Market', published in the 'The Economic and Social Review'.

It comes on the same day as a report shows parents in Ireland are shelling out a fifth of their monthly pay on childcare.

Rent pressure zones will be extended in a bid to keep a lid on rent hikes amid disquiet at the arrival of giant private landlords now locking home buyers out of the market.

The Government has decided to extend rent pressure zones, where annual rent increases are capped at 4pc, until the end of 2021.

The zones in place in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Naas and Drogheda were due to expire at the end of the year.

The new research found that households in the private sector are more than twice as likely to face high housing costs relative to income than those with a mortgage. These renters spend 33pc of their income on accommodation, compared to just 15pc for mortgage holders.

The research used an international measure of affordability that assesses high housing costs as 30pc of income for households in the lower 40pc of earners. High earners can spend more on housing and still have money left for spending.

For the growing number of households who cannot afford to buy or fail to meet the Central Bank's stringent mortgage criteria, the private rental market is a "high cost alternative" according to the policy paper on housing affordability by Eoin Corrigan of UCD, Daniel Foley of the UK's Department for Transport and Kieran McQuinn, Conor O'Toole and Rachel Slaymaker of the ESRI.

It found lower-income households spend, on average, between 40pc and more than 50pc of their monthly income on accommodation. They were also more likely to rent than own their own home.

The findings suggest targeting greater provision of social housing and looser affordable criteria, but the authors warn rent subsidies would inflate house prices further.

Irish Independent

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