Focus Ireland Calls for More Support for Vulnerable Tenants Amid Soaring Rents
In response to the alarming findings in the recent Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) Rent Index report, Focus Ireland is urgently advocating for increased support for vulnerable tenants who are grappling with the relentless rise in rental costs. The report, covering the First Quarter of 2023, revealed an alarming 8.9% increase in rents for new tenancies, pushing many renters deeper into poverty and an increased number are at risk of homelessness.
The charity states that many people working on lower and mid incomes are struggling to pay their rent as the crisis deepens, and the government must act accordingly in the budget to help them. Additionally, Focus Ireland also stated that the Government must take immediate action in the new private rental sector strategy that is currently in development.
Roughan Mac Namara, Head of Communications at Focus Ireland, expressed deep concern over the situation, stating, “Our dedicated Advice and Information staff are helping many tenants and preventing them from losing their rented homes. However, sadly, they are seeing an increasing number of families and individuals facing eviction from Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) tenancies due to skyrocketing rents. The current maximum rent limit on HAP properties is woefully inadequate and urgently needs to be adjusted to realistically reflect the substantial increases in market rents over the past six years.”
He added: “Market rents in the private rental sector have become increasingly unsustainable, especially for low-income and vulnerable groups. Despite the year-on-year rise in market rents, HAP rates have remained stagnant since 2017. This lack of adjustment has led to a growing disparity between HAP rates and market rates, forcing tenants to bridge the financial gap through ‘top-ups. This growing gap between HAP rates and market rents places an unfair burden on HAP tenants, who, by definition, have extremely limited financial resources.”
Focus Ireland is calling upon policymakers and relevant authorities to take immediate action to address this pressing issue. To safeguard vulnerable tenants and To prevent homelessness, it is imperative that HAP rates are increased in line with current market conditions.