Rent prices were starting to slow before Covid-19 crisis
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has published the quarterly Rent Index for the October-December period (Q4) of 2019.
The national standardised average rent was €1,226 per month, up by 6.4% (€74) from Q4 2018, but quarter-on-quarter rents decreased nationally by -1.2% (€15) in Q4 2019.
Following referral from the Housing Agency and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy T.D., the RTB, using the Q4 2019 Rent Index, has confirmed to Minister Murphy that five Local Electoral Areas (LEAs), Mallow LEA, Killarney LEA, Athy LEA, Tullamore LEA and Mullingar LEA, meet the Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) designation criteria. As a result, these LEAs are designated RPZs as of today, April 22, 2020.
Padraig McGoldrick, Interim Director of the RTB, reflected on the report’s latest findings and the current climate the rental sector faces;
“We are encouraged to see that Q4 2019 recorded the lowest annual rent increase in six years, showing signals of stabilisation in urban areas. The designation today of a further five LEAs as RPZs provides further protection for renters in these areas.
"However, I am aware that the period reflected in the latest Rent Index represents a very different world to the one we are living in today, and that the COVID-19 crisis presents new challenges for both landlords and tenants across the country.
"These temporary measures help to ensure a balanced and fair market in the current circumstances and while rent must still be paid, no rent increases can take effect.”
The RTB Rent Index, which is compiled in conjunction with the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), is the authoritative report on the Irish rental market. It is based on actual rents paid on 17,269 tenancies registered with the RTB in the quarter, which is made up of housing stock new to the rental sector, new tenancies in existing housing stock and renewals of existing tenancies.
In Dublin, the standardised average rent is now €1,716 per month, up 5% (€82) year-on-year, the lowest annual increase in Dublin since Q2 2013. On a quarterly basis, the standardised average rent decreased by €33 (-1.9%) in comparison to Q3 2019.
Outside of Dublin, the standardised average rent is considerably less, standing at €922 in Q4 2019. This represents an annual increase of 7.6% (€65).
As of Q4 2019, there were seven counties where the standardised average rent exceeds (or equals) €1,000 per month. They are; Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kildare, Louth, Meath and Wicklow. Three counties (Kilkenny, Laois, and Limerick) all have a standardised average rent between €900 and €999. The high rental levels in these areas relative to other counties reflect the concentration of demand close to the country’s largest employment hubs.
Nationally, the annual growth in standardised average rents for apartments has stood at under 6% in three consecutive quarters (5.7% in Q2 2019, 5.4% in Q3 2019 and 5.9% in Q4 2019), showing signs of stabilisation particularly in urban markets.
Concluding, Padraig McGoldrick outlined the need for tenants and landlords to continue to fulfil their obligations throughout the COVID-19 crisis:
“There are some simple rules that should be reiterated at this time. Rent must still be paid by tenants as it falls due. Where a tenant is genuinely struggling to pay the rent, they may be entitled to support measures including income support and rent supplement, which we would encourage tenants to seek promptly.
"This difficult period has borne witness to a lot of goodwill and support between landlords and tenants, and the RTB would encourage everyone to continue to communicate and support each other so that any challenges faced can be resolved through working together.
"We are encouraging those who are experiencing issues in their tenancies during this time, to visit our website for information on how to resolve issues and, if necessary, use the RTB’s telephone mediation service, which is a free service to help landlords and tenants resolve a dispute in a mutually beneficial manner, and does not require people to leave their home.
All the latest information on the emergency legislation and Q4 2019 Rent Index can also be found on our website at www.rtb.ie.”