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HOUSING continues to be “an overwhelming problem” across Co Clare.

Rents in Clare would have to increase by more than fifteen percent and proceed to rise in line with the national average in order to be deemed as rent pressure zones (RPZ).

A Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) is a designated area where rents cannot exceed general inflation, as recorded by Harmonised Index of the Consumer Price (HICP), or 2% per year pro rata, where HICP inflation is higher. This applies to new and existing tenancies. RPZs are located in parts of the country where rents are highest and rising, and where households have the greatest difficulty finding affordable accommodation.

Currently no part of Co Clare is classed as an RPZ. At the end of last year, the average rent in Clare was €963.40 as per the Residential Tenancies Board’s (RTB) rent index. There are 55 RPZs across Ireland presently.

An evaluation to determine whether parts of West and North Clare should be classed as RPZs was sought by Cllr Liam Grant (GP) who admitted he was surprised that neither Lahinch, Ennistymon or Kilkee fitted the bill. “We all know there is a lot of pressure on people renting or trying to look for rent. The whole designation of rent pressure zones seems arbitrary to me at times”.

Kilkee is “a coastal community where we live under rent pressure all year round,” Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) believed.

According to Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG), “the core issue is supply”. Speaking at a recent meeting of the West Clare Municipal District, he said, “holiday homes were built in Kilkee and Lahinch under tax incentives when the approach was to try build tourism through supply of holiday homes, this is an unintended consequence”.

“This is about supply, rent pressure zones will look at certain things and prices will rise. There is a need for holiday homes and Air BnB but the core is about supply and we need to build our supply in North/West Clare. We need more houses and we need to come up with strategies to do that. We need to build more housing in West and North Clare not just places like Shannon or Ennis where Housing for All seems to be focused,” the Lisdoonvarna representative added.

Cllr Murphy responded, “There are 600 empty houses in Kilkee, there’s no problem with supply there, it is purpose. If holiday home is rented permanently it is 100% occupancy”. “Why can’t you have both,” Cllr Garrihy asked to which Murphy added, “it is not a zero-sum game, you can”.

Properties are appearing on Air BnB before being put up for rent “because it is the easiest way to make money,” Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) believed. Housing is an “overwhelming problem,” Cllr Grant stated, “I have no problem people making money in tourism but it is not fair for people to be making profit off family homes”.

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