New data shows sitting tenants paying markedly lower rents than new tenants

Research published today by the ESRI explores how the rental prices faced by new tenants compare to those faced by existing or sitting tenants across Ireland. This work was funded by the Residential Tenancies Board.

The lack of timely, comprehensive data on the rents faced by existing tenants in the Irish private rental sector has long been a key evidence base gap. Using a large, initial sample from the Residential Tenancies Board’s (RTB) new annual tenancy registrations administrative database, this work compares new rental tenancies that commenced between April-September 2022 with existing tenancies (of at least one year in duration) registered in the same time period. Right across the country, the prices paid by sitting or existing tenants are lower than those paid by new tenants, but there is substantial variation in these differences across areas and property types.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Existing tenants paying lower rents than new tenants: Nationally the raw average rent - i.e. without accounting for differences in property type and size - is lower for existing tenancies registered between April-September 2022 than for new tenancies that began in the same time period (€1,303 vs €1,517), a difference of €214 (or 16.4%) per month.
  • For similar properties, nationally rents faced by existing tenants are 15.2 per cent lower than those faced by new tenants. These gaps are lower in Dublin (13.4 per cent) and the Greater Dublin Area (GDA, excluding Dublin) (12.5 per cent) and higher in the Rest of Country (17.3 per cent).
  • In Dublin, more than one in five existing tenancies are above €2,000, compared to nearly two-fifths of new tenancies. Around a quarter of new tenancies in Dublin are priced at €1,500 or less compared to two in five existing ones. In the Greater Dublin Area (GDA, excluding Dublin) while nearly four in five existing tenancies are priced at €1,500 or less, only two-thirds of new tenancies fall under this threshold. In the Rest of Country (ROC) area, 60 per cent of existing tenancies are priced between €501-1,000, but less than half of new tenancies fall within this band.
  • The largest gaps between the rents paid by sitting and new tenants are found in the north-west, west and parts of the midlands, with smaller gaps in the east of the country. These findings likely reflect the rapid rental inflation in new tenancies observed in more rural and less traditional rental markets in recent quarters, as well as less frequent turnover of properties in many of these areas.
  • Larger properties see the greatest differences between the rents paid by sitting and new tenants: this is especially the case for Waterford, Limerick & Galway cities. However, this is not the case in Kerry, Westmeath and Mayo where the gaps between the prices paid by new and sitting tenants are highest for one-bedroom properties and are generally decreasing in property size. This may indicate a particular shortage of smaller properties relative to demand in these areas.
  • New and existing tenancies’ characteristics differ: one bedroom properties make up a higher share of new tenancies compared to existing ones (22 vs 17%). Conversely, three bedroom tenancies (26 vs 32%) and those in non-urban areas make up a lower share of new tenancies compared to existing ones. This indicates that smaller properties and those in more urban areas turn over more frequently and are therefore over-represented in new tenancy measures relative to their share in the market as a whole.

Commenting on the report, author Dr Rachel Slaymaker of the ESRI stated:

“Most rental market indicators typically focus only on those starting new tenancies. Our findings show on average longer-term or sitting tenants are paying much lower rents than new tenants. With almost one-fifth of Irish households renting from a private landlord these data are crucial for understanding the sector as a whole. Observing large differences between existing and new tenancy rents can help to identify particular pressure points in the market.”

Commenting on the report Niall Byrne, Director of the RTB, stated:

“The RTB welcomes this detailed analysis by the ESRI which provides new information on prevailing rents being paid by new and existing tenants in the private rental sector.  This analysis demonstrates one of the benefits of the annual registration requirement for tenancies which was introduced in early 2022. The RTB looks forward to working with the ESRI and other stakeholders to develop further insights from our enhanced data over the coming months.”