Average rent prices in Galway have risen by 15.9 per cent to €1,189 in the city, and by 10.2 per cent to €807 in the county, over the last 12 months, according to the latest Daft.ie report.
Rents in Galway city are now five per cent above the national average of 12.4 per cent, with rent prices in the city having increased at almost four times the Rent Pressure Zone cap, where rents are supposed to be capped at four per cent annually.
Responding to the report, the Galway Simon Community said it revealed an "unstable market", which many are being "locked out" of, while others will be forced into homelessness by the "huge pressure" of the increasingly high rents. Simon added that the report also demonstrates that the Government "cannot rely on the private rental market to deliver social housing targets".
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy set targets for Galway's local authorities to deliver 931 social housing units by the end of 2018, the majority of these - 72 per cent, or 668 units - are to be delivered through HAP and Rental Accommodation Scheme tenancies in the private rental sector. However, studies conducted by the charity into Galway's private rental market over the last four years, including the recent Locked Out Of The Market XI, show there were no properties available to rent in Galway within the Rent Supplement/HAP limits.
Karen Golden, CEO of Galway Simon Community, said the cost of renting in Galway is "continuing to increase month after month", with the average rent for a one-bed property in Galway city being €848. "This is double what most people can afford to pay," she said. "For those on Rent Supplement or HAP, it’s a gap of €273 in what they are entitled to under the limits, but they have no other options available to them. The current market rents are unrealistic and are quite literally pushing people into homelessness."
Ms Golden is calling on the Government to direct its focus towards providing social housing, rather than relying on the market to do so. “Renting in Galway for a lot of people is unaffordable and it’s unfair that there are no other options available to them," she said. "The supply of affordable housing just isn’t there in the private rental market and we fail to see how these targets are going to be achieved by the end of the year with the current market."
She said the "only real solution" is for new social housing through Local Authority builds or acquisition. "Until this happens, more and more people are faced with the huge pressure of these high rents and are being forced into homelessness."
The Daft.ie report has also led one local councillor to declare that “rents have spiralled out of control and show no signs of slowing down”. Sinn Féin Galway City East councillor Mairéad Farrell said the report "makes clear" the Government's "meagre efforts" to deal with the accommodation crisis "have had no impact".
Cllr Farrell said the Government needs to accept the Rent Pressure Zone legislation "is not functioning". She said: "The Rent Pressure Zones were unambitious to begin with and demonstrated the reluctance of Fine Gael to interfere with a market that is dysfunctional at best, fundamentally broken at worst. Similarly, the anaemic level of construction of social and affordable housing is simply driving people towards that private sector market, driving up rents for all. The Government, backed by Fianna Fáil, is doing more harm than good when it comes to the housing crisis."