Friday 27th January 2017: Galway Simon Community has welcomed the latest announcement from Minister Simon Coveney last night (Thursday 26th) introducing rent pressure zones in 23 new areas, including Galway City, which will see annual rent rises capped at 4%.

The homeless charity said that the extension of the scheme to Galway City was necessary but that full rent certainty is still needed, as well as enhanced security for people in their homes. The announcement was made after the results of the latest Simon Communities study showed that 84% of the properties available to rent in Galway were too expensive for those relying on housing benefits. Only four properties available to rent, out of the average 25, were within the Rent Supplement/Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits over the study period.

The snapshot study, Locked Out of the Market VI: The Gap Between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’ was conducted over three days in November 2016 – 28th, 29th and 30th. This is the sixth study of its kind, with the first being conducted in May 2015. Since the first study was conducted, the supply of rental properties available over the study period in Galway City has decreased by 76% from an average of 104 properties available to just 25 in November 2016.

Bill Griffin, CEO of Galway Simon Community said the results of the study were no surprise and the introduction of the rent pressure zone in Galway City will help somewhat to keep people in the homes they have. “This has been the situation in Galway and around the country for a number of years now. It’s over a year and a half since the first of these studies was conducted and the situation has worsened despite the measures that have been taken to date.”

“We welcome the introduction of the rent pressure zone in Galway City which is recognition of the pressure people are under to meet rising rents. The rent cap can ensure that people can stay in the homes they have momentarily, however, rents will continue to rise and as the Simon Community study shows, many people on housing benefits already can’t afford accommodation that is out there now. It’s essential that Rent Supplement and HAP limits are monitored and kept in line with market rents.”