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Less than a third of people renting their home do it by choice

The scale of the rental trap facing hard-pressed families is revealed in a new report showing that the vast majority of people do not wish to be tenants.

Fewer than a third of tenants rent their homes by choice, according to Threshold’s report, which was released ahead of an event to mark the national housing charity’s 40th anniversary.

The remaining 71pc rent in the private sector because they cannot get social housing, nor can they afford a mortgage to buy a property of their own.

The vast majority (96pc) of tenants found it either difficult or extremely difficult to find rental accommodation.

The huge financial burden facing families is also outlined, as almost half of tenants spend about a third of their take-home pay on rent. Some 14pc say they spend more than half.

Nearly a third (31pc) of tenants had experienced a rent rise in the previous 12 months, with 65pc of those saying the rent had been increased in excess of the 4pc Rent Pressure Zone cap.

Despite their desire to get out of renting, some 70pc of tenants have been renting for five years or longer and 44pc still expect to be renting in five years’ time.

Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty said: “It is extremely worrying, but not surprising, that almost all of those surveyed said they had difficulty in finding rental accommodation.

“Nearly half of those surveyed were working, but the fact that 14pc of tenants are spending more than half of their take-home pay on rent shows that renting is becoming out of reach for many people.”

Threshold’s chair, Dr Aideen Hayden, said: “A home is not just where you live, it is a place of sanctuary, offering protection from the stresses and strains of daily living. The current insecurity for tenants in the private rented sector means that they can’t look ahead and plan, they can’t put down roots.
“For families living in the private rental sector, worrying about a possible eviction and move at short notice plays havoc with children’s lives and their school attendance.”

Threshold’s tenant sentiment survey involved more than 300 tenants who had used its services nationally. It was carried out in April.

Threshold is marking its 40th anniversary with a series of events. The first, at the Mansion House this evening, will be addressed by UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing Leilani Farha and Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.

Mr Murphy said: “Ireland is experiencing a housing shortage and a homeless crisis and tackling this is the Government’s number one priority.

“Threshold’s homelessness-prevention work is central to this aim. We have developed a strategy to improve the private rented sector. Rebuilding Ireland is working and we will continue to identify means by which to address this issue.”

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