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70pc of homes 'too big for occupants' needs'


There are two rooms per person in Irish households

There are two rooms per person in Irish households

There are two rooms per person in Irish households

Almost seven in 10 people in Ireland are living in homes that are too large for their household needs.

New figures published by the European Commission show that Ireland has one of the highest rates of people living in under-occupied dwellings in the EU.

Official statistics released by Eurostat reveal that 69.6pc of Irish people were living in dwellings deemed too large for their needs in 2019 in terms of excess rooms - more than twice the EU average of 32.7pc.


Only Malta and Cyprus had higher rates of under-occupied homes than Ireland.

"The classic cause of under-occupation is older individuals or couples remaining in their home after their children have grown up and left, while family breakdown can also result in under-occupation," a Eurostat spokesperson said.

On average, there are 2.1 rooms per person in Irish households compared to the EU average of 1.6 rooms.

The Republic's high rate is believed to be linked to the large number of adults living in "empty nest" households and the relatively larger size of traditional Irish families and the associated need for more bedrooms compared to most other European countries.

The latest figures show that over 92pc of older people in Ireland are living in homes that are considered too big for their actual needs.

In contrast, only 3.2pc of the Irish population were classified as living in overcrowded households in 2019, although the figure has increased from 2.7pc the previous year.

It is still the second lowest rate among the EU's 27 member states where 17.2pc of people on average live in households without enough rooms for their needs.

However, the proportion of people on low incomes and at risk of poverty who live in overcrowded conditions in Ireland is almost twice the national average at 5.9p.

Irish males (3.5pc) are also more likely than Irish females (3.0pc) to live in overcrowded households.

Based on age, 20 to 25-year- olds are most likely to be living in an overcrowded dwelling with the problem affecting 5.8pc of that age group compared to just 0.3pc of those aged over 65 years.

Overcrowded accommodation is considered to be any dwelling that does not have the number of rooms appropriate to the size of the household, the family situation and the ages of its members.

It is calculated on the basis of there being one living room, one room per couple, one room for each single adult, one room per pair of single people of the same gender aged 12-17 and one room per pair of children under 12.

Under-occupied homes are households with more than the minimum number of rooms considered adequate.

The European Commission expressed concern about the impact of living in overcrowded living conditions during the current pandemic where many people are confined to their homes due to public health guidelines and regulations.


"Overcrowded households can feel even smaller with kids playing in the same room as parents trying to telework during the coronavirus lockdown," a spokesperson said.

"Moreover, overcrowded environments can present a higher risk of spreading the virus."

On measures of housing quality, Irish homes were slightly better than the EU average with 12.5pc of Irish people living in a house with a leaking roof and 4.9pc unable to keep their home adequately warm.