The private rented sector is an increasingly important element of the housing market, with the proportion of households in the sector almost doubling in the period 2006-2011. Against this background, I am acutely conscious of the difficulties caused by rising rents and the problem of sourcing suitable accommodation, especially in Dublin and other urban centres.
The most recent data from the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) Rent Index and from the Daft.ie Rental Report show the extent of rising rents, particularly in Dublin and the major cities. In Dublin, rents for houses increased by 6.4% annually, and for apartments the figure was 8%.
The fundamental reason behind the rise in rents is a lack of supply. In 2006, some 93,419 housing units were completed across the country, 19,470 of them in Dublin. In 2013, a total of 8,301 homes were completed nationally, with just 1,360 in Dublin. The volume of activity in residential building and construction remains less than half of the volume seen in the year 2000.
Increasing both public and private housing supply is a critical issue and on 14 May 2014 the Government published Construction 2020 - A Strategy for a Renewed Construction Sector. This publication is a blueprint for a properly functioning and sustainable construction sector. It provides for a strategic approach to the provision of housing based on real and measured demand and addresses the full range of relevant issues including the planning process, financing, access to mortgage finance and the construction workforce. As part of the Construction Strategy, the Government is committed to publishing a social housing strategy by the end of the third quarter 2014 which will set out a vision for social housing and identify ways to increase social housing supply over the next 5 years.
Over half a billion euro in funding is being made available through my Department across a range of housing programmes in 2014 and I expect that in the region of 5,000 social housing units will be provided this year.
Resolution of the housing supply situation is the key element in restoring stability to the market but I recognise that the provision of additional units of housing takes time. Consequently, I have asked the PRTB to carry out a focused piece of research that will explore options to address the difficulties being experienced in segments of the private rented sector due to rising rents and to report back to me with policy recommendations before the end of June. My goal is to achieve stability and sustainability in the market for the benefit of tenants, landlords and society as a whole.