As revealed in last week’s Killarney Advertiser, we are currently in the midst of a crippling rental crisis the likes of which have never been seen in Killarney. Locals and migrants alike are struggling to find suitable accommodation and there appears to be no solution in sight. Rents nationally are significantly higher than they were at the height of the boom and they continue to climb. In Kerry, this quarter showed an 8.9% increase on the same period last year.

Incredibly, there are currently just 13 properties available for rent in the Killarney area on Daft.ie (and some of those listed are miles from the town itself). On Airbnb, meanwhile, there are over 300 listings in Killarney.

It is virtually impossible to find somewhere to rent long term in the Killarney area. Worryingly, many local businesses now say that they have jobs available but they can’t attract employees because there’s nowhere to house them.

Chairperson of the Irish Hotels Federation, Niamh O’Shea, says the issue is affecting many local hotels.

“In Killarney in particular, there is a shortage of supply when it comes to accommodation and that is a challenge,” she said. “There aren’t enough houses being built and you also have the scenario where some of those who were in the market have exited in favour of Airbnb. It’s a double-whammy, for want of a better word.

“It’s at all levels. You’ll have a demand for residential accommodation for international students coming on a year’s placement, but equally it affects more senior positions. We’ve struggled to find suitable family accommodation for people looking to move their career to Killarney.”

Some hotels, most notably the Hotel Europe, have taken matters into their own hands by providing their own accommodation for staff but Ms O’Shea says that’s not an option for everyone.

“That’s a considerable investment (€3 million) by the Hotel Europe but that just goes to show the level of the shortages. It’s not something that’s feasible for all hotels, and it is a longer process with planning and building. This is an immediate problem and it’s one we’ve experienced all summer.”

Ms O’Shea says it’s reassuring to see that there are some developments that have started in Killarney but “it will take time before we see a relief.”

“In terms of Airbnb, I do feel that there needs to be some regulation both in planning law and taxation policy so that it’s a level playing field.”

I also spoke to local businessman Cormac Casey about the issue and he confirmed that the current situation is a “nightmare” for business.

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract staff to Killarney,” he said. “Even before you reach the interview stage, you’re at a disadvantage because would-be employees know that accommodation is a problem here. It has reached the stage where we’re actually entertaining the idea of purchasing property, just so we have somewhere for our staff and their families to live.

“That’s obviously a major problem because then you’re pumping cash resources into accommodation instead of into the business. It’s a real issue for many businesses in town and something needs to be done.”

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, estate agent Ted Healy said a number of factors were responsible for the severe lack of available rental properties.

“Over the past number of years, more and more landlords have exited the rental market than have entered it,” he said. “There are a number of reasons why this is the case. A large number of investment properties have been repossessed by financial institutions, and a large proportion of landlords have exited the market due to increased costs and taxes associated with renting a property.

“The lack of what one would describe as your traditional starter home/investment property (i.e. three-bed semis) has also stifled the rental market. This type of property has not been built in Killarney in the past number of years. Demand is there but supply is not.

“As a result of the tight market existing tenants are not moving around as much as they once did. Any tenant happy in a property is not going to give it up. Renters are staying where they are.”

This current rental crisis is clearly a major concern for the town and, worryingly, it appears as though there is no quick fix in sight.

What do you think? What steps can be taken to improve the situation? Let us know by emailing newsdesk@killarneyadvertiser.

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