A NEW REPORT has found there was a 20% deterioration in just three months in the availability of affordable rental properties across the country, and a 27% deterioration in six months.
The quarterly Locked Out report from the Simon Communities of Ireland, published today, found there were 2,208 properties available to rent at any price within the 16 areas examined over the three dates (21, 22 and 23 June) surveyed.
This is down 20% from the 2,757 properties available in March. 
The June 2021 study found there were 906 properties available to rent within a standard or discretionary Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limit in at least one of the four household categories examined,representing 41% of the total properties available.
This is a 14% decrease on the 1,055 properties which were available to rent within at least one HAP category in the December study.
HAP is a form of social welfare support for people who have a long-term housing need and it is available in all local authority areas. Local authorities pay landlords directly and tenants pay a weekly contribution to the local authority.
However rent must be within limits for the household type, for example the limit in Carlow for one adult in shared accommodation is 270 per month, while the limit for a couple with two children in Dublin is 1,275 per month.
Flexibility of up to 20% may be provided on a case-by-case basis of suitable accommodation cannot be found within these limits.
There were just 63 instances of those properties coming within a standard HAP rate in one of the four categories. The rest of the properties within HAP rates required the discretionary HAP top up.
A breakdown of the four household categories found:
Single persons: No properties were available within standard HAP limits for a single person. 78 properties were found within discretionary limits for single people.
Couples: 55 properties were available to rent within the standard HAP limits for a couple. 293 properties were available in this category within discretionary limits. This represented a significant decrease in available properties when 344 properties were available at the discretionary rate in March. The report said supply is overwhelmingly driven by Dublin.
Couple/one parent plus one child: Three properties were available for a couple/one parent and one child within standard HAP limits. A further 385 properties were found within discretionary limits, most of these located in Dublin (374 properties).
Couple/one parent plus two children: Five properties were available within standard HAP limits for a couple/one parent and two children. A further 466 properties were found within discretionary limits, with the vast majority of these located in the three Dublin areas (445).
Source: The Simon Communities
A new report from property website Daft.ie published this week also highlighted the increase in rents for residential properties by 5.6% nationally between April and June. rents are rising more quickly outside Dublin, the report noted.
The report today includes two case studies; one from a couple in their mid-thirties called Laura and Paddy and one from a 36-year-old single man called Jacob.
Laura and Paddy have been on their local authority housing list for over ten years and were in supported 24/7 temporary accommodation for two years. 
Recently they were given temporary accommodation with the local authority.
Both have experience addiction issues in the past and had been granted temporary accommodation because of serious issues they faced in homeless hostel settings that were damaging their recovery efforts. 
The report stated both have experienced poor mental health and the constant search for accommodation has had a highly detrimental impact on their mental wellness.
The move to temporary accommodation from the hostel setting was only down to constant lobbying of the local authority by their key worker, the report added.
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Both are still at risk of homelessness if they do not find rented accommodation for themselves soon.
Laura and Paddy are approved for HAP, but they receive a smaller social welfare allowance as a couple than they would if they were two singles. They are still searching for accommodation every day but are priced out of the property market. 
They live in a small town and the charity said they have felt a stigma attached to them due to their past experience of addiction.
They have organised HAP forms for a rental property with their key worker, only to be told by the auctioneer that they are not interested, without even looking at their forms.
Jacob is currently living in transitionary accommodation after successfully completing an alcohol addiction programme. 
He should only have been at the transition house for six months he has now been there for 18 months as he cannot find affordable private rental accommodation. 
He cannot leave the transition house, as he has been advised that the only option would be to return to a high threshold temporary accommodation hostel where drug and alcohol use is very high, the charity said.
He is reliant on using the HAP payment. The HAP limits in his area do not reflect the realities of current market rates, so has been unable to find private rented accommodation. He has been on the housing list for ten years.
Wayne Stanley, head of policy and communications at the Simon Communities of Ireland, said the ongoing tightening of supply and erosion of affordability in the private rental market will lead to increased homelessness. 
HAP rates have to be addressed in the short term to keep people in their homes and support them out of homelessness, he said.
However, we cannot continue to chase rents and we need delivery of public housing.