20,000 landlords have left rental market since 2016

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Gabija Gataveckaite

Around 20,000 landlords have left the rental market since 2016, according to Department of Housing officials.

There were 320,000 landlords in 2016 and recent figures show there are currently just over 298,000.

The news comes as the Government commits to building 24,600 homes this year, including 9,000 social homes, 4,100 affordable purchase and cost rental, as well as 11,500 private rental and private ownership homes.

Nearly 40,000 planning permissions were granted in the 12 months to the end of September 2021 and there were over 30,000 commencements as part of the multi-billion Housing for All plan.

However, despite rising numbers of landlords leaving the market, the Government has no plans to encourage small landlords to remain and not cash in on high property prices.

Speaking to journalists this afternoon, officials from the Department of Housing said landlords leave the market “for a variety of reasons” and that “new sources of supply” will instead fill the gap.

They said planning permissions for 12,000 build-to-rent homes were granted in the past three years and these will “come on stream in coming years”.

The Government hopes that cost rental will provide 2,000 homes per year up to 2030, or 18,000 units in total. Meanwhile it also hopes that some of the 7,800 homes belonging to elderly people who are availing of the Fair Deal scheme will come on to the rental market.

In relation to landlords leaving the rental market, one department official said: “The rental landscape is changing but the constitutional property right is that if somebody choses to sell the property, we can’t restrict them from doing that and I don’t think we’d want to.

“The landscape is changing, different players are coming in and moving out, but we’re satisfied and think that there is a sufficient volume in the areas set out here that will fill the gap which has come about.”

Despite only several dozen cost rental homes being delivered last year, the Government has now vowed that 1,580 homes will be delivered this year.

There are also currently “very advanced” plans underway to bring in foreign construction workers and the sector has seen an influx of more workers as people come off the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Government officials also told journalists that building apartments and homes in regional areas is “less viable” and that funding can be “constrained” due to a lack of developer funding.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that “good progress” has been made on building homes and vowed that building targets will be exceeded this year.

“Recent figures show over 30,000 new housing commencements, the highest levels since 2008, and this gives me the confidence that we will not only meet, but exceed, our Housing for All targets this year,” he said.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said that “milestone deliverables” have been reached since the plan was published.

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