Monday, 27 November 2023

Rents in Cork city are now €1,882 per month on average - a 10.2% increase in the last twelve months. It's one of the findings in’s most recently published Rental Report for Q3 2023. Across the rest of Cork, rents are 11.7% higher than this time last year, bringing average rent in the County to €1,458.

With the CSO calculating the median nominal disposable income of households nationwide in 2022 at almost €47,000, the average household ‘lucky enough’ to secure a rental home in Cork city, will spend almost half their income on rent.

The situation is even worse for a single person. As our Home Truths paper, Single Homelessness in the Southwest highlighted, the majority of people who find themselves in homeless emergency accommodation are single and are highly reliant on the private rented sector for a way out of homelessness.

With median nominal disposable income for a single person at almost €24,000, and average rent for a one-bed home in Cork city at €1,266 per month, a single person earning the average wage will allocate more than 60% of their disposable income to rent – a near-impossible and certainly unsustainable prospect.

Unaffordable rent top-ups putting private rented tenants at risk of homelessness.

A single person earning the average income would qualify for HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) if they have already qualified for and are registered on the local authority housing waiting list. HAP is a social housing support paid directly by a local authority to a private rented landlord. However, to qualify, rent must come within the HAP limits for the household type, and as the Simon Communities Locked Out of the Market reports have shown, for at least the last two years there have been no properties among the sample study available to rent in Cork city within either the basic or discretionary HAP limits for a single person.

Where does this leave renters? Those on anything near the average income are priced out of the rental market. As Threshold note, “this has resulted in many HAP tenants having to pay unaffordable rental ‘top-ups’ to their landlords to bridge the gap between HAP rates and market rent”. Such unsustainable rental top-ups put people at risk of homelessness.

It’s well-established that we urgently need to see an increase in the supply of housing across all tenure types, especially in the private rented sector where supply remains at an all time low. Building new homes obviously takes time. Returning existing homes to the market is one way to increase supply quickly, as our recent Home Truths paper, Vacant Homes in Cork highlights.

Our Home Truths series aims to offer insights into different aspects and experiences of homelessness in the Southwest, drawing on publicly available data and supported by the personal experiences of Cork Simon service users.