Rent prices still on the rise in Kilkenny and Carlow

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In Dublin 1, for example, a mortgage on a one-bed (at a rate of 3.75 per cent, with 85 per cent loan to value) will be €836 a month, compared with rent of €1,503, while in Limerick city, rent will be €746 or just €293 on a mortgage.

"Rents have now reached an all-time record of an average of €1,227".

In Offaly, rents were on average 11.4% higher in the final three months of 2017 than a year previously.

According to the rental report for the fourth quarter of 2017, asking prices for rented properties rose by 2.4 per cent to an average nationwide rent of €1,227.

In Galway and Waterford cities, rents rose by a little over 12 per cent during the year, while in Limerick city, rents rose by 14.8 per cent.

To protect the interests of tenants, the Irish government has invented a rent pressure zone mechanism under which landlords cannot randomly increase their rents beyond a rate fixed by the government for each different zone unless landlord can justify their increases by providing evidence of price hikes of three comparable properties in the same area. The figures show rents have risen for 26 consecutive quarters.

The association said every euro of rent received by landlords is significantly reduced by a variety of taxes, levies, charges and maintenance costs.

"This is twice as long as the previous market upswing, which lasted from early-2005 to mid-2008".

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The Simon Communities have warned that Ireland's homelessness crisis will not improve while rents remain so high.

The organisation said that the introduction of rent pressure zones in December 2016 did not go far enough and should be urgently reviewed.

Niamh Randall said rent pressure zones are clearly not working and intervention in the private rental sector is needed, in order to prevent more people from becoming homeless.

"What we are seeing is reducing supply and we are seeing prices increasing across the board", she said.

"But it also means that people can't leave homelessness behind because they can't access properties in their price range". However landlords say they're operating in a hostile climate - and the Governments response is making the situation worse.

Tenants can not be expected to police this private market, she said.

"The costs of providing accommodation are extremely high and the taxation is even worse".