A looming social crisis in the Irish capital of Dublin has emerged out of a severe shortage of cheap rents, increased demand for housing and a dramatic slowdown in construction.
It is most pronounced at the lower end of the rental market. The abolition of the bedsit and a near-halt in the supply of social housing mean it is increasingly difficult to find a place to live .
But it is also a growing problem for middle-income earners. Many are struggling to find affordable accommodation of decent quality that is convenient for work or family. Employers and recruiters say it is emerging as a new barrier in attracting talent into the country.
For now, at least, it is a problem mostly confined to the capital. Rents have been rising at about eight times income levels in Dublin over the past year or so. The average rent in the city towards the end of last year rose to €1,041, an increase of almost 15 per cent over the past 18 months.
For a nation that until recently was obsessed with homeownership, renting has been soaring in popularity. The most recent census showed the number of people renting their homes grew by 47 per cent between 2006 and 2011.
As a result, the supply of rental properties has been drying up. Stock in the capital stood at just 1,500 in November, compared with 6,700 vacant properties in 2009.
The trend likely to emerge in Dublin is easy to forecast, say experts. In the absence of a dramatic increase in housing in the capital, rents are likely to continue to increase over the coming year, resulting in affordability problems for tenants.
Even for those with jobs, rental costs can eat up so much of their income that there is often little left.