Rents are now just €2 below boom levels - and costs are rising
The average cost of renting a home is just €2 a month below the levels paid during the Celtic Tiger boom.
A stark report from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) says tenants are paying an average of €986 per month to rent a home, and costs are rising.
Private sector rents have risen by 7.8pc year on year, and they are increasing at a faster rate than house prices due to the shortage of units coming on stream.
While nationally rents are 2.7pc below the peak, in Dublin they are 8.3pc higher. There has been a sharp increase of more than 11pc in the cost of renting an apartment year on year in the capital.
The Rent Index for the last quarter of 2016 also shows that one-in-four tenants is paying more than €1,300 a month for their home. It also shows that in pockets of the country, including parts of Waterford, Cork, Carlow and the Midlands, rents have increased by almost 30pc over the past 12 months, albeit from a low base.
The most expensive place in which to rent a home is Stillorgan, Co Dublin, at €2,062 per month. The cheapest is Glenties in Donegal, at €337.
Rising costs have resulted in the electoral areas of Cobh - which includes areas to the east and north of Cork city such as Glanmire and Carrigtwohill - and Maynooth - which also includes Clane and large parts of north Kildare - being designated as 'Rent Pressure Zones' (RPZ) where landlords are not allowed hike rents by more than 4pc every year.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney said that 57pc of all tenancies in the State, or 186,000, were now covered by the RPZ legislation. Some 325,000 households rent their home.
"The rental market has not responded well to new demand," he said.
"The number of units coming on to the market are low. Demand far outstrips supply. Rents have been spiralling upwards.
"This is unsustainable, causing uncertainty and hardship, causing homelessness and threatening our economic recovery. Most importantly, it is dramatically impacting on people's lives."
He said the Government's rental strategy was aimed at boosting supply, and said the RPZ legislation would reduce costs in areas of high demand.
RPZs are in place across Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow, and Mr Coveney said an analysis by his department suggested that the rental caps would reduce annual costs for an apartment in Dublin 4 by €1,076 a year.
A two-bed in Ballincollig in Cork would be €1,600 less a year and a three-bed semi-detached house in Beaumont some €2,000 cheaper, he said.
He added that Drogheda and parts of Limerick were "very close" to qualifying for the cap. Rents must have increased by more than 7pc in four of the last six quarters and be above the national average to qualify.
He added: "This is the first time a government has effectively put a cap on rental increases. We need to be careful that we do it on the basis of appropriate criteria."
The Institute of Professional Auctioneers & Valuers claimed the rent controls were resulting in higher rents outside of designated areas, and the Simon Communities called for rent certainty to be extended to all areas to help families.