Single-parent families most at risk of losing out when landlords leave rental market - homeless agencies

Agencies to tell Oireachtas committee that the tenant-in-situ scheme can be a powerful tool to address the issue of homelessness in Ireland

Single-parent families are at greatest risk of becoming homeless due to the increase in landlords leaving the rental market, an Oireachtas committee will hear on Tuesday morning.

Opening statements from the tenancy protection agency, Threshold, and from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) have highlighted that families have become increasingly vulnerable to homelessness in 2022 and 2023.

In its opening statement for a hearing of the all-party committee on housing, Threshold said that there has been an increase since 2022 in people who are at risk of homelessness, including the “hidden homeless” (people who are couch-surfing) and those who have over-held their expired tenancies.

“This is primarily due to the large increase in the number of landlords who are choosing to sell their rental property. In 2022, 83 per cent of our clients who entered homelessness had received a notice of termination from their landlord.


“This is compounded by the lack of alternative housing options. We see that families are more likely to enter homelessness than other household types, with one-parent families at significantly greater risk, as are those receiving a social welfare payment and reliant on Hap [Housing Assistance Payments].

“These households often need additional support and guidance to ensure homelessness is prevented, including representation at the Rental Tenancies Board.”

In its opening statement, the DRHE said that there were 1,263 families and 4,128 single adults in emergency accommodation at the end of April.

The average rate of single people facing homelessness was the highest in 2022 and the gap between those entering the emergency homelessness system, and those exiting, has been widening since 2021.

“In 2022, for every one single exit, five single people entered emergency accommodation,” it stated.

While the number of households entering emergency accommodation is not as high as the record year, 2018, there has been a sharp decline since 2021 in the number of families leaving emergency accommodation. This trend has continued through the first quarter of 2023, the DHRE has noted, with an average of 30 families leaving the system, compared to an average of 68 families entering into emergency accommodation.

Both agencies said that the expansion of the tenant-in-situ scheme would help in terms of resolving the issue.

“The additional 1,300 permitted local authority acquisitions, to support the scheme, is significant,” Threshold said in its statement.

However it pointed out that with over 2,500 notices of termination, there is a need for far more than 1,300 units to be purchased under this scheme.

In its statement, DRHE said Dublin City Council has gone sale-agreed or submitted final offers to purchase over 200 properties in which tenants are renting, according to the latest figures compiled by the local authority.

The council is involved in various stages of negotiations for 387 properties under the tenants-in-situ scheme, which is being promoted by the Government. Of those, 164 have gone sale agreed and conveyancing is now being progressed.

It is at a “valuation and offer” stage for a further 59 properties. Between January and April it also completed the purchases of 18 properties, and the tenants in situ have now signed up a new tenancy agreement with Dublin City Council.

Another influential agency, Simon, will also be contributing to the meeting. Committee chair Steven Matthews (Green Party) said on Monday that this long-planned meeting for an update on the issue of homelessness had become even more important after recent figures showed that more than 12,000 people were registered as homeless and in emergency accommodation.

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times