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RTB Survey Reports says Affordability is an Issue for Many with Half of Tenants Surveyed Paying more than 30% of Net Income on Rent

The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) has published the findings from their Rental Sector Survey 2020 reports

The Rental Sector Survey has been commissioned by the RTB and conducted by Amárach Research. The survey forms an important part of the RTB’s ongoing research programme and is one of the largest studies ever undertaken of the rental sector in Ireland. It provides an understanding of the private residential sector with an in-depth look at the views and intentions of tenants, landlords and letting agents.

The private rented sector has undergone massive change in the last number of years. Since the RTB was established in 2004, the number of private tenancies registered with the RTB increased steadily from 83,983 to a total of 319,822 active tenancies at the end of 2016. In recent years there has been a reversal of this trend, with the number falling to 297,837 by the end of 2020. This reduction is also seen in the number of private landlords associated with private tenancies, falling from a high of 175,250 in 2016 to 165,736 by the end of 2020.

“The RTB’s Rental Sector Survey provides a comprehensive insight into the current private rental sector,” said Pádraig McGoldrick, Interim Director of the RTB. “The last number of years have been ones of constant change so it is the hope that this report will establish an evidence base of data around the actions and intentions of private landlords and tenants, and that the information will facilitate an up-to-date and informed policy perspective for a rental sector clearly experiencing a wide range of difficulties.”

When questioned as part of the survey, 79% of tenants found their experience renting in the private rental sector in general as ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’. However, affordability is a huge issue as rent levels are often seen as out of their control and not linked to income. Half (50%) of all tenants surveyed stated that they spent 30% or less of their monthly net income on rent. A similar proportion spent more than 30% of their monthly net income on rent, with 12% claiming that they spent more than 50% of their monthly net income on rent. In Dublin, 64% of tenants indicated that they spend more than 30% of their net income on rent. 

The survey results found that 88% of small landlords rated their experience with their tenants as ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ when managing their tenancies. 82% of this group stated that the key drivers of these positive experiences are ‘good tenants who paid rent on time, steered clear of issues, and good communicators’. However, while the majority of small landlords appear likely to remain in the market for the foreseeable future, their contribution will decline as the market changes. The research suggests that a sizeable proportion, 26% of small landlords, plan to sell a rental property in the next five years.

On the other end of the spectrum, large landlords have clear intentions to expand their portfolios, which suggests that the profile of landlords is set to change.

Pádraig McGoldrick continues, “It’s worth noting that the RTB’s tenancy registration data shows us that small landlords who own 1-2 properties make up about 86% of all landlords and supply an estimated 53% of the private tenancies in the rental sector. Despite any potential changes in the profile of landlords, these smaller landlords will nevertheless likely continue to provide the most significant proportion of the private rental accommodation for the sector well into the future.  However, with 26% of small landlords indicating an intention to sell a property within the next 5 years, there is potential for increased pressures on supply and rent levels during this period.”


The RTB hosted a virtual launch of the Rental Sector Survey on Wednesday, 14 July 2021 at 12pm

The Chairperson of the Residential Tenancies Board, Tom Dunne, moderated the event, with presentations on the report’s findings by Amárach followed by a panel discussion.

The panel included:

Paddy Gray OBE, Professor Emeritus of Housing, University of Ulster

Pádraig McGoldrick, interim Director, RTB

Janette Fogarty, Assistant Director with responsibility for Enforcement and Legal Affairs, RTB

Gerard O’Neill, Chairman, Amárach Research

Michele Cluskey, Associate Director, Amárach Research

The output from The Rental Sector Surveys consists of six separate reports 

All reports are available to view and download at the links below;

1. The Tenants Report;

2. The Small Landlord Report (1-2 tenancies);

3. The Medium Landlord Report (3-99 tenancies);

4. The Large Landlord Report (100+tenancies);

5. The Letting Agents Report; and

6. RTB Rental Sector Survey Summary Report which provides an overview of the findings of all six reports.