Introduction and Purpose
The purpose of rent supplement is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The Department currently funds approximately 50 per cent of the private sector rented accommodation. Accordingly, it is essential that State support for rents are kept under review, reflect current market conditions and do not distort the market in any way.
This is the second review since rental prices reached their peak in 2007. Since the last review (June 2009), rental values have fallen on average, using CSO data (the most conservative) by 9.5%. Other sources showed reductions in rental prices of between 11.5% and 16%.
The Department used publicly available data sources to ascertain both the market trends and the current asking prices for one, two and three bedroom properties throughout Ireland on a county by county basis. The only exception to this was Dublin, in which it was decided to isolate Fingal as a separate entity. The following were the main data sources used:
- CSO Rental Indices: CPI Section collects price data on rental accommodation from thirty-three letting agents in seventeen locations around the country. Dublin with eight and Cork with six quotes respectively are the areas with greatest coverage. Each of the areas quoted is weighted by reference to their population.
- Private Residential Property Board (PRTB) Databases: A snapshot of the PRTB’s database which stores all annual rental values and relevant addresses.
- Publicly available data sources.
These data sources were used to calculate the average rental value of properties allowing analysis for both rural/urban and bedroom mixes. These composite average figures were then used as the basis for the new rent levels. Once these agreed rent limits were established, a stress test was conducted to ensure that the proposed limits allowed suitable accommodation to be obtained in each county’s major urban area. Average rents for Quarter 1 2010 were also reviewed to ensure that rental levels were still falling: this final piece of analysis showed further drops in rental values since Q4 2009.
The Department engaged with the various actors within the private rented sector. This included St. Vincent de Paul, Threshold and various other bodies. The main outcome from this process was concerns over the current single person rate; which was considered to be already too low and should not be subject to further reductions. This view was borne out during the review and accordingly the single rates for the majority of counties were not adjusted.
The Department also engaged with a number of SCWOs during the review and provided relevant analysis of market values pertaining to their areas. The outcome of this part of this review confirmed that the rental values provided did reflect the current market trends for their areas.
Discussions in relation to rent limits were also held with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and key Local Authority representatives in the context of the transfer of rent supplement tenants to local authority provided accommodation.
Results and Savings
The rent limits reduction should over time yield a minimum of €20m in savings to the Exchequer. As the market adjusts to the new rates it is expected that further savings will arise.
The analysis found that despite the rental correction over the last eighteen months, County Dublin’s rent values are still in line with the current rent limits in place. Fingal is the exception where rental values are now lower than the prevailing maximum rent limits for the county. To address this situation a new rent limit structure for Fingal is proposed, separating this area from the rest of Dublin.