Almost 250000 homes lying empty on Republic's census night

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Almost half a million people were renting with 326,493 households in a lease with a private landlord, the report said.

The number of vacant dwellings in Longford has fallen to 3,102 - down from 4,075 in 2011.

Beyond this, more householders owned rather than rented their home. The equivalent age in previous censuses was 32 years in 2011, 28 years in 2006, 27 years in 2002 and 26 years in 1991.

Average weekly rent paid to landlords also increased between 2011 and 2016 - going from €171.19 to €199.92.

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The highest growth in rent was in Dublin City, which increased by nearly 30% while rises in excess of 20% were also recorded in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (26.2%), Fingal (22.8%), South Dublin (22.7%) and Kildare (20.3%).

Dr Lorcan Sirr, lecturer in housing studies and urban economics at Dublin Institute of Technology, said the figure of 20.8 per cent for the number of people renting wasn't as high as he had expected, given the increase of 176,000 in population.

"We need action to get the vacant homes that are suitable back into the active housing stock as urgently as possible".

The CSO report revealed 37,294 homes were bought in the 12 months to end of February.

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Mr Davitt said the big impediments to house building included a lack of knowledge in government of the true cost of construction, the inability of smaller builders and developers to access finance and at reasonable interest rates, a lack of competition in the lending market, mortgage lending rules and a risk-averse attitude among lenders.

"If the resources are made available it can be delivered on a much larger scale".

The CSO results show that a total of 2,003,645 houses and apartments in the State were enumerated in the 2016 Census. CLOs would enable Local Authorities to seek permission to force a lease on the owner of an empty home.

"This shows what the Simon Communities are seeing all around the country; people are living in overcrowded accommodation because they do not have access to decent and affordable housing".

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