Thursday 23 November 2017

Ronan Lyons: Our aversion to renting is rational, not emotional

The Irish tax system and weak rights in the private rented sector favour home-ownership, writes Ronan Lyons

Rising Market: The development of family-size apartments in desirable locations would encourage more people to rent
Rising Market: The development of family-size apartments in desirable locations would encourage more people to rent

Ronan Lyons

IT IS something of a truism about the Irish housing market that the Irish don't like to rent. Sure, why would we, what with the cultural baggage of the Land Wars, the Great Famine, Oliver Cromwell and all that? Scratch at the surface, however, and it turns out that this point of view rests on a pretty parochial reading of world history. Most people, for most of history, have had to deal with insecure land holdings, war and the ups and downs of history.

In fact, the Irish aversion to long-term renting comes down to much more banal factors. It comes down to economics and the law.

At first glance, the problem may have solved itself. The number renting is higher now than at any point in the last 40 years. Since 2000 in particular, there has been huge growth in the numbers in rented accommodation. In the 2011 Census, 27 per cent of households were renting, about two-thirds of those in private rented accommodation. This is roughly the same proportion as in 1970, although then the majority were renting from the local authority.

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