Private rental accommodation across Ireland has fallen to an all-time low. According to a recent rental price report for Q3 2021 from Daft.ie, due to our economic and demographic growth, we have entered a return to the pre-Covid-19 housing situation — weak supply in the face of very strong demand.
This eternal battle between supply and demand is particularly hitting cities like Dublin and Cork. Recently, Trinity College Economist, Ronan Lyons told the Business Post that Ireland needs 400,000 to 500,000 apartments to be built to address the shortage of homes. He also outlined in the Daft report that: “While some argue against the construction of large numbers of purpose-built rental homes, any solution to the chronic shortage of rental homes in Ireland must include building new ones”.
Solutions are undeniably needed, and below Tim Cahill, Managing Director of Grayling Properties, identifies three ways the supply and demand problem in the Irish property market could be resolved.
BUILDING UP RATHER THAN OUT
The aforementioned Ronan Lyons has outlined that apartments, rather than houses, are where the vast bulk of the missing housing is. We need to be strategic when re-thinking our urban developments. Maximising space, building upwards as opposed to outwards and using height will reduce the threat of urban sprawl.
There are huge benefits. High-rise living plays an important role in reducing the dependency on cars. Encouraging people to walk, cycle or alternatively avail of public transport to reach their destinations results in less vehicles on the road. Fewer cars on the road equates to less traffic congestion, reduced emissions and a more physically active population. I recently spoke to the Irish Times about how the pandemic is forcing us to rethink the future of cities, aspiring instead to self-sufficient, people-centric, sustainable and connected neighbourhoods. Having higher density builds greatly assists with this — allowing for the 15-minute city model to be fully realised, with workplaces and amenities at convenient distances.
RETHINK CONSERVATION LAWS
According to the UN Environment Programme, almost 40% of annual carbon emissions are accounted for by the construction industry. We believe there is a way that we can work towards meeting the demand of the housing market while acting in a sustainable manner. However, for us to do so, policy makers in Ireland need to address conservation laws and regulations.
At the end of 2020, EY-DKM reported there were more than 92,000 vacant homes throughout Ireland, with a further 28,000 empty commercial properties. We must reconsider our evaluation process of heritage structures and migrate from the ‘black or white’ model, where a site is either ‘protected’ or ‘not protected’. The importance of Ireland’s historical architecture remains, but policy makers must understand that conservation has little value if implemented in an ‘all or nothing’ approach that results in thousands of deteriorating buildings and derelict Georgian properties that could be repurposed as quality homes.
UNLOCK LAND BANKS
As outlined by the Government’s Housing For All strategy, an additional one million people are projected to be living in Ireland by 2040. To meet this demand, it is important that we maximise our cities’ space, as seen on the south docks on the River Liffey. Effective land management is a core element of the commitment to compact and sustainable development.
It is recognised that large plots of publicly owned land need to be salvaged for redevelopment. Many public bodies have sizable areas of derelict land banks that could be utilised to reduce the rapid rate of urban sprawl. However, a significant investment on infrastructure is crucial to make the development of these land banks viable. Land zoning and investment in services and infrastructure add significant value to land and sites. The National Economic & Social Council outlined Ireland must bring about a “fundamental change” in its system of urban development, land management and housing provision. This must include “bridging the supply gap by actively managing land and locational value for public good”. With the population growing, the redevelopment of land banks will also encourage trade within these areas, attracting smaller shops, cafés, artisan food producers and bringing a vibrancy back to areas of the city that have fallen victim to the development of commuter towns outside the city boundaries.
Supply and demand is a serious problem and with the population on a steady incline, now is the time to act. We need to be proactive in our approach and all it takes is a little common sense. If you are interested to hear more about how Grayling Properties can work with you to manage your property portfolio, contact our Property Management Team today at email@example.com