There are continuous upward pressures on the private rental market due to our strong economic and demographic growth and the restricted supply available. Affordability remains a significant issue in the rental market.
The findings presented in the report referred to acknowledge that Ireland’s performance in terms of high housing costs for market renters compares favourably to the European average. The report does not disaggregate the position of low income market renters. However, my Department’s own research does and indicates that in 2016 households in the market rental sector in the lowest 25% of the income distribution typically paid 40% of their disposable income on housing costs.
Ultimately, the most effective way to reduce and stabilise rents in the medium to long term, with benefits for the entire sector, is to increase supply and accelerate delivery of housing for the private and social rental sectors.
The policy recommendations made by the EU Urban Agenda Housing Partnership, and echoed by Social Justice Ireland in its Spring 2019 publication, are largely in line with my Department’s policies, such as to increase the supply of social and affordable housing, tackle vacancy and voids, and invest in affordable housing across tenures, including cost rental.
The ongoing efforts by my Department, relevant agencies, local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies and other stakeholders to deliver on the goals of Rebuilding Ireland is bearing fruit, but we will not become complacent and will continue to work together to tackle the issue of housing supply.
The Government's Strategy for the Rental Sector outlines a range of measures for a viable and sustainable rental sector, structured around four key areas: security, supply, standards and services.
Arising from the publication of the Strategy, a number of targeted measures and initiatives were announced with the aim of providing better security of tenure, higher accommodation standards and greater rent certainty for tenants, as well as enhancing the supports and services available to landlords to facilitate the development of a more vibrant and sustainable rental sector.
The initiatives which have since been implemented include the introduction of the Rent Predictability Measure to moderate rent increases in those parts of the country where rents are highest and rising resulting in great difficulty for households finding affordable accommodation. In Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs), rents can only increase by a maximum of 4% annually. The measure applies to new and existing tenancies, when rents are set at the start of a tenancy and when rents are set in a rent review during an ongoing tenancy or new tenancy, unless otherwise exempted.
The RTB Rent Index Report includes a summary in Table 9 of the data used to establish whether each Local Electoral Area fulfils the criteria for designation as a Rent Pressure Zone. This ensures transparency in relation to the position of individual areas in terms of average rent levels and increases.
Further information on Rent Pressure Zones and designations is available on my Department's website at https://www.housing.gov.ie/PUBLICATIONS, by searching 'rent pressure zones - information'.