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Lack of small apartments and ageing housing stock in Dublin fuels housing crisis

Some Dublin areas are 93pc houses, 7pc apartments. So what do single people do?

Irish Independent - Sunday April 16th 2023

By Wayne O' Connor


Dublin’s ageing housing stock has been cited as a factor in the housing crisis, with research showing property in the capital is out of kilter with modern demands.

Property firm Artis said an analysis of CSO data shows a lack of apartments and the underdevelopment of sites in Dublin contribute to the housing crisis.

This affects the private rental sector, inflating prices — because those who want to live in smaller units are often forced into unsuitable accommodation, such as houses that have been converted into flats and bedsits, with new apartments not available in underdeveloped areas.

"Many urban areas are undersupplied with appropriate rental accommodation"

This in turn also limits the number of semi-detached and terraced homes available to buyers and families.

“It’s an inappropriate use of housing stock. It is something that would be fixed by the co-living ideas and similar proposals,” says Artis managing director Richard O’Neill.

Artis, which provides evaluation and consultancy advice to developers and approved housing bodies, reviewed trends in the Dublin suburb of Glasnevin as an example. 

Its analysis shows 57pc of homes in the area were built between 1919 and 1960. Only 6pc of units in Glasnevin were built after 2000. The vast majority of units here (93pc) are houses.

This means the area is undersupplied with appropriate rental accommodation.

These trends are replicated across most of Dublin, says O’Neill. Dublin 18 and parts of Dublin 1 buck the trend, because of recent builds, but most suburban areas have too few apartments and an aged stock of homes.

“You have people now buying up three- or four-bed terraced houses and trying to convert them into five, six or seven bedrooms, because they know they can get tenants in,” he says.

‘People are outraged by so-called mini-Manhattans — but that’s exactly what the city needs’

“The rental demand is in the smaller units. But whenever anyone proposes any developments predominantly led by smaller units, it gets shot down.”

He believes the rhetoric around apartments and large scale developments needs to change to relieve pressure on the sector.

“Everyone seems vehemently opposed to big apartment developments. TDs usually want family housing. If you had one-bed units, you’d be able to accommodate people in purpose-built accommodation and free up the existing stock — the two-, three- or four-bed semi-Ds — for families.

“If you google ‘controversial planning Dublin’, millions of entries come up, showing outrage in communities over ‘mini-Manhattans’ — and it’s absolute nonsense, because that’s what is required.”

Artis director Ellen Prenderville says policymakers need to convince investors that Ireland remains an attractive place to develop apartments. ​

Planning delays are a factor, with about 67,000 units currently tied up by backlogs and red tape.

“I was working on applications three years ago that went in for planning last year, and they’re still sat there. But those developers and investors have since moved on,” she says.

“The lack of supply is driving up rent, and that’s not going to be solved in the short-term.

"Glasnevin is a good example. It’s right beside a university and hospitals, but there is very little new development.

"It’s likely there’s a high proportion of renters in the housing stock — and it’s about freeing up that housing stock for what it was made for.”

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