RENTS have fallen for first time in seven years.
Figures from Daft.ie show that there was a marginal fall in the last three months of last year.
This was the first time since the middle of 2012 that rents have not risen in a quarter when compared with the previous quarter.
The report shows that there are now 10pc more homes for rent than a year previously.
Dublin rents are up 3.5pc, which is the slowest rate of increase since 2008.
National rental inflation for all of last year was calculated at 4.1pc, which was a lowest rate of increase since 2012.
The average monthly rent nationwide stood at €1,402 in the final quarter of 2019.
This is €659 per month higher than the low seen in late 2011.
An urban-rural divide is evident in the figures. Rents rose in Dublin, Cork and Galway cities between September and December, But outside the major cities rents fell.
The number of homes available to rent nationwide continues to rise. However, it is coming off a very low base.
There were 3,543 properties available to rent across the country on February 1, up 10pc from the 3,216 available the same date a year ago, according to Daft.ie.
This marks the 17th time in the last 19 months that availability has improved year-on-year
But Daft.ie said the number of rental homes on the market is still down 80pc from its 2009 peak.
Report author and economist at Trinity College Dublin Ronan Lyons said housing and rents are set to be a key part of the next government’s priorities.
And he warned the next government against introducing a rent freeze.
“Despite the desire for a quick fix, such as rent freezes, no such quick fix exists. By worsening insider-outsider dynamics, rent freezes are likely to further harm those most affected by the shortage of accommodation.”
Prof Lyons said that if rental controls are applied to newly-built rental homes, they “could prove calamitous for a country that desperately needs new rental homes but has very high construction costs”.
The Daft.ie report shows that average rents in Dublin rose 3.5pc to €2,052 at the end of last year.
Cork rents are up 5.5pc to €1,386. In Galway, the average rent is now €1,309, up 5.6pc.