Thursday, May 19, 2022

One of the many vacant homes throughout the county. This one is in Naas

A boarded up home photographed by Cllr Bill Clear


By Finian Coghlan

TRYING to find a home to rest in Co Kildare is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. Last Monday 16 May there were just a total of 24 homes for rent in the whole of Co Kildare on the popular website.

And even if you are lucky enough to find a property you then have figure out how you will pay for it.. Today the average rent in Kildare now sits at a shade under €19,000 per annum, or €1,565 a month – up 7.8% on last year.

On Monday  there were no properties available for rent in Athy, Kildare town, Monasterevin and just handful in the larger towns of Naas, Newbridge, Celbridge, Maynooth and Leixlip.

The lowest available home to rent in the county is €800 a month for a studio flat in Eadestown, and the most expensive is €3,500 a month for a four-bed house in Leinster Park in Maynooth.

“This increase on last year is piling the financial pressure on people already struggling with rocketing prices in heating, energy and cost of living,” said Deputy Réada Cronin.

“Workers and families are now in a financial pressure cooker just for the basics of living – shelter, heat, transport, food, and there’s less and less to spare for what could be called having a life,” she said.

“This is a crisis. These shocking hikes in rent don’t come with similar hikes in wages,” she pointed out, “and if you add in the cost-of-living crisis, workers and families are really feeling the squeeze”.

“I see every day now, people who have good pay, and who would usually be ok financially, really coming under pressure,” said Deputy Cronin.

“It’s new to them and they’re anxious. People on ordinary or low wages are struggling though. There’s real worry in homes across Kildare, with people already thinking about next autumn and winter.

“It’s perfectly obvious that the two per cent cap in rent pressure zones isn’t working and those outside the zones are taking a major hit from the market,” she said.

The Government has to stop pampering the wealth-funds, and minding the developers and start standing up for renters here in North Kildare. Rents have to be cut, and cut seriously, because too many people can’t survive long in this financial pressure cooker.

“We need a ban on rent increases on all existing and new tenancies, and we need Government to put money back in renters’ pockets through a refundable tax credit worth a month’s rent like we proposed.

“Government must also accept that we need to see affordable cost rental delivered at scale. At least 4,000 units per year to meet affordable rental demand,” said Deputy Cronin.

“It’s the lowest I’ve ever seen,” agreed Naas councillor  Bill Clear, who has been documenting the shortage of rental properties on social media over the last few months.

“Last month there were nine, now it’s just three,” he said, at a time when another 82 properties – 60 private, and 22 council-owned – lie vacant in Naas.

Prior to the last Municipal District meeting, Cllr Clear gave a list of all the vacant properties in the town to the officials in the Housing Section, and he was reassured that the council had enough money to renovate their own housing stock.

However, the number of empty private properties is fuelling the crisis.

“Some of them are left because of family issues, but some are left empty because the owners don’t want the trouble,” he said.

Of the 22 empty council houses, the majority “15 or so” are in Castlefen in Sallins, with another three on the Newbridge Road, two on the Dublin Road, and two in Sarto Park, all in Naas.

“To be fair, the number is smaller than in other local authorities,” he allowed.

Cllr Clear also revealed that the vacant property is going to grow this month with the closure of three family businesses in the town – Goulding’s Hardware, Nolan Butchers, and Statham Jewellers – all from retirements.

However, he also believes that both The Forge and the Five Lamps pubs – vacant for more than 10 years – will both be opening shortly.

The average rent now in Kildare of €1,565 per month is more than twice what it was (+112%) at the lowest in 2011 since began collating such information, and 11.7 per cent higher than the same quarter last year.

Nationwide, there were just 851 homes available to rent on 1 May, down from 3,600 a year ago.





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