THE cost of renting rose last year despite Covid-19 rent protections being in place.
Renting a home was 2.7pc more expensive across the State in 2020 at €1,256 per month, according to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
This was a slower rate of growth than the 6.4pc recorded in 2019.
But it comes in the context of legislation put in place by Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to protect tenants from eviction if they have been badly affected by the pandemic and are facing rent arrears.
The legislation also allows for a rent freeze for tenants who have had their income impacted by the pandemic.
And rent controls are in place since 2016 in a bid to temper an overheating rental market.
The RTB said the average rent in Dublin, the most expensive area, is now €1,745 per month, a 2.1pc increase year-on-year.
But the RTB said that rent costs fell by 0.8pc between the third and fourth quarters of the year.
The counties with the lowest monthly rents were Donegal and Leitrim at €626 a month.
During the fourth quarter of 2020, eight counties had standardised average rents above €1,000 a month. They were Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Limerick, Louth, Meath, and Wicklow.
The area with the fastest rise in rents in the last three months of last year was Co Longford, which recorded a rise of 8.3pc.
The county with the largest year-on-year decline in rents was Waterford, with rents there down 13pc.
New tenancies continued to account for about four-fifths of all registrations at 83pc, with 17pc of registrations representing tenancy renewals.
Interim director at the RTB Padraig McGoldrick said the impact of Covid-19 on the rental sector continued into the fourth quarter of last year.
But he insisted that rents were moderating.
“The national standardised average rent remained static in the quarter and, overall, in the year there had been a significant trend of moderation in rental inflation relative to previous years,” he said.
“While there has been a definite trend in moderation in rent levels, it is clear affordability issues and related risks remain,” he said.
Covid-19 presents many challenges and adjustments for those operating and living in the rental sector, he said.
“We continue to encourage those who are experiencing issues in their tenancies to keep lines of communication open and if they still cannot resolve their dispute to contact the RTB for support and information on how to resolve these matters.”
He stressed that further measures and the extension of temporary protections for those impacted by the pandemic were introduced by Government towards the end of last year.