No political party ever ran for election on the promise to bring back the landlords. None of our leaders ever said that the problem with late 20th century Ireland was that too few people were paying rent.
And yet, this shift back towards landlordism didn’t happen by accident. It has been engineered by the State and partly paid for by the taxpayer.
It is the State that created and shaped this change. It pays all or most of the rent to landlords for 113,000 households. Between 2001 and 2020 governments have spent €12.5 billion to support the private rental market.
The consequent shift is a remarkable exercise in social engineering. Renting has been made more and more “normal” for each succeeding generation.
A recent ESRI report tells us that fewer than 20 per cent of Irish people born in the 1950s or 1960s lived in rented accommodation in their mid-thirties. For those born in the 1970s this rises to just over 30 per cent. For those born in the 1980s it’s over 40 per cent.
These figures are, naturally, mirrored on the other side by a dramatic decline in home ownership among young people. In 2004, 60 per cent of those aged 25-44 owned their own homes. By 2015 that had halved to 30 per cent.