LETTING agents in Cork have 'never seen the market' so bad as the number of properties to rent continues to reduce.
Just 283 properties were listed to rent in Co Cork on property website Daft.ie yesterday afternoon. This included shocking shortages in many areas, with the city centre showing just 48 properties to rent in total.
Commuter areas showed an even worse situation, with just four properties listed to rent in Ballincollig. Carrigaline (3), Cobh (3), Fermoy (2), Glanmire (5), Midleton (6) and Ovens (1) all showed similar figures as the crisis in the private rental market worsens.
Michael Downey of ERA Downey McCarthy letting agents said he has never seen the market as bad as it currently is.
"It is struggling under the strain of demand," he said.
"We get 20 to 30 phone calls within the first hour of listing a single property. We have had to start cutting off the number of appointments for a property because of the number of enquiries - and that is before you even count the number of emails we get. I have never seen it as bad and it has been getting worse."
The Daft.ie property report issued this week showed a further increase in rents nationwide. The average rent in Cork city now stands at €1,180 per month, a 7.7% increase in the last twelve months.
The shortage of supply has been highlighted by economists as a key reason for the trend.
Mr Downey said, "The rents are simply enormous at the moment. It is cheaper to buy than it is to rent - that doesn't make any sense. It simply can't continue."
The letting agent said that local authorities have to up their game when it comes to housing supply.
"Cork City Council and the other local authorities need to get their act together," he said.
"There are hundreds of vacant and unused buildings in the city and nearby. People are driving past these to view properties 20km away from where they want to live."
He said that 'living over the shop' schemes and other incentives are essential in turning the tide.
"Landlords are getting out of the market," he said.
"The properties are being sold to owner-occupiers because it is cheaper to buy than to rent, meaning that the supply isn't increasing. It is only getting worse."