Are we becoming a nation of renters?

Are we becoming a nation of renters?

People queue to view an apartment in Dublin recently

One of the favourite destinations for Irish people to visit abroad when they have a few spare pennies is the United States and, in particular, New York.

Whether it is for its sights, nightlife, shopping or all of the above, the Big Apple has for some time been a dream destination for many Irish.

Over the years we have adopted many of their customs as well and that trend could be now extended to our property market.

The big question is: Are we becoming more and more like New Yorkers?

The topic has been slightly touched on at two separate conferences in the past week.

On Thursday, Joshua Kahr of New York-based KEC Properties spoke about his experiences of the US property market at the SCSI annual conference.

One thing he mentioned was how many New Yorkers were now “renters by choice”. While home ownership in the States has been somewhere between 60-70% over the course of the last 20 or so years, in New York 68% of people rent permanently.

While Ireland is some way away from that figure, the number of people renting here has grown considerably in recent years.

Indeed, DIT lecturer Dr Lorcan Sirr touched on the subject earlier this week when he suggested the gloss has gone off home ownership for many people.

Speaking at the National Construction Conference in Dublin, he argued that there was finally recognition that renting was good for the economy  as it brought with it “economic mobility and little risk especially for personal savings.”

The figures would appear to back that theory up. Home ownership levels are now below 70% here with 18.5% renting, according to the latest Census. In Dublin the number renting is even higher at 30%.

Dr Sirr pointed out that the numbers renting is up 50% in the last five years but argued that the property market is not ready for a complete change as there was a shortage of decent accommodation out there, especially for families.

While in the past, standards were not as high, people want good quality homes now rather than damp basement flats. They also want to live in areas that suit their needs.

Dr Sirr argues that “the demand is there, the need is there, but the accommodation is not” and says the market needs professional landlords who will apply the principles of commercial property investment to residential development.

That, realistically, is not going to happen overnight but government housing policy has been changing to better balance the options of owning and renting.

The demand for rental accommodation is certainly there. At a time when the residential property market is slow, numbers visiting the likes of has grown to record levels.

Indeed, there has been several reports of huge queues outside places that are up for rent in many areas. A recent Irish Times article by Bernice Harrison brilliantly summed up her feelings on the matter.

Far more Irish people may be becoming “renters by choice” but, like the buying market, it has its problems.

Today we ask your opinion on the rental market.

Is the level of stock available satisfactory? Do you prefer to rent or buy? Is your long term goal to buy or would you be happy to rent for your lifetime?

Let us know in the comments below.

There are 25 comments for this article
  1. at 8:11 pm

    Simply but well put Frank. Many “analysts” fail to factor family into decisions like this. You and your partner quite rightly would love to leave a property to your children so that the can have a better life. My Ma, through no fault of her own, had to privately rent the family home – she has openly regretted that she did not have the option to leave somethings to myself and my siblings there’s a lot more to this issue than which option is the most financially profitable. Liam.

  2. Fiona at 11:04 pm

    We are renting though not through choice. We really need and want our ‘forever house’ for consistency for our child, primarily. The home we have at present is ideal for us in so many ways and we would love to be able to buy it. However, having spent our life savings on getting treatments for our Son our deposit for a home is now gone. We will now be renting for a long, long time. It’s impossible to save for a home whilst renting as the rents in Dublin have increased in the past year. My brother pays less than half of what we pay and he lives in Galway. I don’t understand why Rent to Buy never took off in this country? Seems it was only available for Council Housing and is now no longer available anyway due to more cutbacks. I think renting is the only option available to most people these days and will be for some time. Landlords should be open to offers from people who have been good long term tenants and if their ultimate goal is to sell their property they should consider a very long lease that will allow the good tenants to save and ultimately purchase the property that is already their home. Win Win for both parties. As this is becoming the only option for people, Landlords should also consider longer lease options than year on year renewals. It’s not very nice wondering at the end of a lease term whether you’re about to get one months notice to move and all the stress that entails, especially if you have children. Long term leases of 10-20 years should be an option now like our European and US counterparts thus giving both Landlord and Tenant peace of mind. How do you get that ball rolling though?

  3. John Moriarty at 12:10 pm

    Having recently been left a goodly sum, I expect soon to become a landlord, even while thinking the best person to own the roof over one’s head is oneself.


  4. Paddy Purell at 2:48 pm

    I think it is inbuilt in our own minds that your life is not complete unless we own our house.
    In fairness I have been both and I must say give me own you own anytime.

  5. Anne at 2:03 pm

    When house prices are realistic you will see less renters and more buyers. Until then I say keep renting and saving for a good down payment. For now let the landlord pay all these crazy taxes and charges on top of the crazy price he paid for the property.

  6. Conor at 11:12 am

    Lets adopt another NY policy: longer leases and Rent Control please!
    Having recently moved back to Ireland, I was amazed that no landlord I met was willing to offer a lease of more than 12 months. The advantages of this are obvious to both parties. I was told there would be an issue with Stamp Duty?
    Does anyone regulate this sector? Ireland needs to get a grip with the rental sector. Why are the policy makers sooooo behind in this whole area?

  7. CMC at 8:58 am

    There was a time when ownership guaranteed you had few worries when retiring. With property taxes imminent, later retirement and poor to no pensions, that’s no longer the case but I reckon it will take a generation or two to wash out our psychological need to own our houses..

  8. opalstar at 8:31 am

    Renting is not the way to go, as you have nothing to show for it. Especially if the property market improves. Its a dismal thought to still be renting in your 60s. A lot of people get council houses but these are still rented houses belonging to the council at the end of the day and not owned by the tenant unless they buy them. At least if you buy you have the option to purchase another property at some stage that will bring in an income. When property prices rise again, which they will owners will be the winners.

  9. Denise Kirwan at 12:40 am

    Renting is beneficial to people that like to have a good house without the worry of a mortgage you can live in a nice house in a nice area and move on when you like
    Here in Australia rent can be quite expensive as the bond is a months rent which is held by a government body but is returned after about two weeks after application
    There are regular 3 month house inspections by the landlords agent where any issues are dealt with. Yes I think the way forward is rent to hell with the banks lets seewhathappens if people don’t borrow for mortgages

  10. desmond connolly at 9:11 pm


  11. jean at 8:41 pm

    renting is fine as long as you have a good income. what happens when you retire become unemployed? I have invested in property but I dont think it is worth the hassle renting out with the law on the side of the tenant and all the costs with the landlord. Mortgage repayments, maintenance, property tax, nppr, prtb and whats left is gutted by income tax. I would not advise anyone to get into property and I think less people will do so. We need a database of tenants so that those who damage property leave it in a bad state and dont pay rent can be detected by future landlords. And those who are decent tenants or bad landlords can be recognised also. Because of the difficulties and costs for landlords I think the pool of decent properties will become less to the detriment of tenants.

  12. Al at 8:24 pm

    Luckily I bought my first house before the madness and have a manaeable mortgage. Moved to a lovely area in nortside of Dublin. For a family of 4 including myself and the better half and 2 kids. I’m in the late 40’s now and already (sad I know) am looking forward to mortgage done and living my golden years in my own house … I meander … it was mentioned that your abode is for life .. there’s a good chance that one of us will live till 80 (not me!!)… something to leave the young uns but moreso something to maintain and be proud of as my own. We are not New Yorkers … if mortgages were readily available, house prices keep in line with inflation and you retain your job (or upskill), your own gaff is the way to go… you can’t raise a family (if that’s your thing) in a rented property because you’ll spend half your time worrying about schools, rental prices, etc Stability come with owning your own … don’t forget were Oirish as well and we like the feel of owning the sof we sleep in …. huge satifaction for me in that alone ….. Why pay rent until you die or run short of bobs in the your old age leaving you to worry about utility bills … do it now and stop procrastinating, you would be surprised how much to can tighten the belt when you have to … no fact or figures here, just speaking from the heart. Ending with this, if you won €350k at the weekend you wouldn’t hesitate about buying, you wouldn’t invest in shares or such like you’ld but (very much depending on your age, marital/family status and the ensuing responsibilities that go with same.

  13. bernadette brookes at 7:14 pm

    when you can’t buy you have to rent…. you need a lottery win to afford property… about time ireland looked at what other countries offer tenants think they might be in for a shock!!!!

  14. Pamela at 4:37 pm

    I would love to buy but still cannot afford to and with all the extra taxes & charges I don’t know if I ever will. The manifesto of the current government can be summed up in one word: GREED. I know prices have halved but its still not enough to buy either a decent sized or nice area house. The thought of a 40 mile commute each day does not appeal to me. I think renting will definately become more popular as the banks despite being recapitalised are slow to give out mortgages, meaning more people will be forced to rent for longer

  15. Paddy at 2:37 pm

    In the past we have been owners, and landlords but today we are very glad to be tenants. My neighbours paid €1.6 million plus 9% stamp duty plus legal fees, about €1.8 million all told for a penthouse apartment. We sold our house in 2006 and rent our identical apartment for less than €20k per year. Our neighbours pay annual complex management fees of €3,500, we pay zero, its included in the rent. Therefore our apartment will cost us €20k per year or €700k over 35 years should we decide to stay that long. In comparison our neighbours have to live with a €54k per year loss of interest on the €1.8 million (assuming invested at 3%) plus €3,500 management fees or a grand total of over €2 million for a 35-years period. Of course the neighbours will have an apartment to sell at the end of 35-years but by not buying I have my money on the bank or have avoided being locked into a huge monthly mortgage leaving me free to invest each year in whatever presents best value. Should we see a good deal out there we may buy, but as prices will continue to fall once the mortgage tax relief blip has passed, there’s no hurry. Must go now as I’m off to buy a beautiful Harley Davidson at a bargain price from a guy who is being buried alive by the killer mortgage on that luxury house he just had to buy.

  16. James at 1:22 pm

    We almost bought last April and I am so glad we didn’t as the same 4 bed detached property(still unsold) is now being advertised at €30k below the April asking price. I am renting a new and furnished 4 bed semi for €750 euro a month, (9K per annum) and the interest on my deposit savings pays most of that.
    Those 1st time buyers who jump or are lucky enough to get mortgage finance so as to avail of the alluded tax benefits will be kicking themselves come 2014 when property price have declined by a further 12%.
    They will be enjoying their mortgage interest relief but their houses will be worth less than they paid for them.
    That interest relief will be meaningless by then.

  17. James at 1:19 pm

    I viewed a property two weeks ago (show house, 4 bed semi) receivers sale on offer for €180k.
    I was interested but when I saw exact similar house in same scheme available to rent for €750 a month I figured I would be plain Nuts to pay €180,000.
    Do the maths, it’s easy.
    Asking prices are still way over relative to rentals all but for a few south county
    and central Dublin districts.

  18. Sinead at 12:38 pm

    The renting accomodation in Ireland is NOT up to scratch, dingy studio apartments from upwards of 600 a month purely because there situated in whats classed as a “prime location” – apartments in Dublin NEED to be modernised and fitted to standard.

  19. Frank at 12:10 pm

    Don’t make enough money to own. I used to but not anymore. The only advantage for ownership for me is security of tenure. I have had many houses sold from under me while I was renting them for 30 years. I am renting a place now that will be good for a few years they tell me. But it is no solution. Now I have children. There will be no house from me to leave them.

  20. Mike at 11:55 am

    Not being able to buy is a sad life perspective. I would encourage people to move to a better country rather than living with “life renting”. Being forced to pay the mortgage of someone else is not a nice way to live. Having nothing for yourself at 50, or at 60 when you retire, nothing to give to your children …

    I can see the why people with property to rent want you to be a renter, they want you to repay their mortgage!! At the end of the day you get nothing and they have it all.

    Renting is necessary in every part of the world, as you sometime need to move, go in holiday, but this is not my life goal.

  21. Yvonne Kiernan at 11:34 am

    I dont think its a case of wanting to rent or choosing to rent in Dublin or in Ireland, Its more like a case of having too.
    House Prices in decent parts of town are insane, ,
    Best off renting in a decent part of town for the rest of your life then getting stuck in a crappy area with few facilities and socio economic problems

  22. Noelle Lennoine-Mahogany at 11:32 am

    A mortgage is of a finite period whereas renting is for life. This seems to be ignored in the current debate. This is especially poignant in retirement when income has dropped significantly.
    Currently I am unable to either buy or rent after being bankrupted by the corrupt despicables of Bertie and his egregious morally repugnant pack of wolves.

  23. Stephen at 9:54 am

    The biggest problem with renting, or apartments in general in Ireland, is that most are crap. The low building standards of the boom years have left most in a position that you can hear conversations next door, or when people upstairs flush their toilet. Things like these can’t be fixed by the professional landlord, and given the massive overhang of vacant apartments, won’t be fixed anytime soon.

  24. Cindy Kelly at 9:52 am

    It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a home owner in this country…..of course we are becoming a nation of renters……..Who would want the headache of property ownership… Before there was ever a recession it was always difficult and expensive to be a homeowner……now with all the additional ‘taxes’ it is simply not worth it. I am a landlord myself and honestly I would prefer to be a tenant ….they have all the advantages. Currently renatal income is not going anywhere close to meeting mortgage repayments and add to this Insurance, Maintenance, Property Tax, Second Home Tax, PRTB, etc……of course we can now add on Water Tax. Yes I would advise everyone to be a Tenant rather than a property owner in this country

  25. Michael at 9:49 am

    Renting is the way to go – just like Australia, Hong Kong and the US

Leave a Reply