A stark future of having to rent your house…for life

An alarming survey of the state of the rental market shows that an entire generation now fears they will never own their own home.

The Threshold study, released yesterday, found that only one in seven renters do so by choice, preferring to buy their own home.

A growing number is now locked out of home ownership, ahead of a number of interest rate increases this year that the European Central Bank has signaled that will make mortgages more expensive.

Only 14% of people surveyed rent by choice. The majority would prefer to own their own home within five years, but very few expect to do so.

Some people were late to start a family, others experienced homelessness, unable to accumulate any savings, and had to surf the Internet or move from one share of the house to another, as subsequent landlords sell.

The Threshold report says: “We are very concerned about the welfare and prospects of those who rent in the long term. The high degree of insecurity and burden of rent that exists in the Irish private rental sector has lifelong consequences, not only for the tenant but also for the community and the asset-based social welfare system in Ireland.

An entire generation now fears they will never own their home, a disturbing survey of the state of the rental market shows Image: Shutterstock

Rent to adulthood and old age has become the norm. Unfortunately, due to the lack of security of tenure and ever-increasing rents, as well as the shortage of rental homes, long-term renting and seniors are not a viable option. However, it is the only option for many.

However, in one glimmer of hope, ESRI reported two days ago that it expects higher mortgage rates, exhausting closing savings and increasing housing supply to cool the market and even slashing property prices by 2%.

The survey found that only 28% expect to own their own home within five years, 15% expect to own social housing, and more than half – 54% – expect they will still rent.

The reasons behind this desire to exit the rental market are clear, with nearly half stating that they do not feel secure in their rentals. The charity’s report said these feelings of insecurity are strongly felt by adults who head single-parent families.

The “We Are the Rent Generation” survey was conducted by Threshold, which uses the results to give voice to its customers’ experience, on their “generation rents, aspirations and frustrations.” “This term may conjure up an image of twenty-year-olds living in home equity, but now refers to those in their forties, fifties, sixties and above,” the charity says.

The Threshold study, released yesterday, found that only one in seven renters do so by choice, preferring to buy their own home. Pic: shutterstock

However, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed were 35 or older.

Threshold chief John Mark McCafferty said the current housing crisis is affecting many groups of people throughout Irish society.

‘Tenants’ feelings of safety at home have deteriorated since 2020, the start of the pandemic. In 2022, only 38% reported feeling safe in their home.

That’s not surprising because only one-fifth of those surveyed left their last rental home of their choice and one in four were evicted because the owner was selling the home or needed it for their own use.

When it comes to moving, 92% find it difficult or very difficult to find a new rental home. This includes all types of families, income ranges, ages etc. This crisis in the rental sector is being felt across the board,” he said.

There was nothing for first-time buyers or renters in the budget. Pic: Getty Images

Housing Minister Daraj O’Brien TD claimed that the government is “working on several fronts to help alleviate the housing problem”. We urgently need to increase the supply of homes, and while I know it may be very difficult for people to see, we are on the right track, with housing permits, start-ups, completions, purchases and mortgage withdrawals all hitting record levels.

The survey also indicates that the majority of tenants want to own their own homes, which is why the government has put affordability and home ownership at the center of its housing policy for all. I want to pay tribute to Threshold in another media poll.

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