THE lack of houses available to rent around North Clare is causing huge stress for people, who find it extremely difficult to get a place to live, says Councillor Liam Grant.
“It’s definitely the number one thing people ask me about. In an act of desperation they come to me to ask if I know of anywhere to live and I have to disappoint people all the time. It gets to me, it’s very sad. I hate that I can’t help them with it,” he said this week.
During the summer time the situation is particularly acute, he says, while businesses in the area are facing labour shortages due to the lack of accommodation.
“You have a lot of people commuting to North Clare for work now. You’ll find a lot of people have accommodation until May but then they’re booted out for short term letting, so they have to leave.
“It’s very difficult for people to get anywhere to live around here. It’s causing massive staff shortages for businesses in the area.”
He said that the amount of houses being rented on AirBnB has made a significant difference.
“I had a motion at the West Clare Municipal District last week about putting in stricter regulations around short term lets and I think that has to happen.
“That’s needed as a temporary solution to try and make the situation better, essentially stopping AirBnBs and short term lets in residential areas, places that aren’t zoned commercially where houses weren’t designed to be holiday homes. I think that’s what has to happen.”
Councillor Grant also said he would like to see tax incentives considered as a means of encouraging people to put houses on the long term rental market.
Things are so bad now that businesses have to get accommodation before getting staff.
“About ten years ago I had a business in Lahinch and getting staff was easy because getting housing was easy.
“Now businesses, restaurants and cafes, nearly look for housing first, getting housing for staff is the really difficult part.”
He says there aren’t indications that the housing crisis in the area is going to be solved by increased supply, while he expressed concern that the upcoming county development plan could actually compound problems.
“A big problem is the county development plan, the designation for population and housing is nowhere near what we need.”