Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said the report on housing rents makes for depressing reading and represents another year of double-digit rent increases.

Mr Martin said the increases in Dublin, where rents had gone up 81% since 2010, were "shocking".

During Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, he said the figure for outside the Dublin area, at 52%, included Meath up 81% and Louth up about 78%.

Cork, Galway and Limerick were up 65%.

Mr Martin said it was "alarming" that only 3,150 properties were available to rent. That was 20% down on the numbers available last year, he said.

Mr Martin said there were human stories behind these figures, including families under threat of eviction and families doubling up and tripling up, living with parents and siblings.

He said young people in cities were paying 40%-50% of their income on rents and it was almost impossible for students in third level to find accommodation.

Mr Martin said rent pressure zones were ineffective and housing supply measures were poor.

A report from the Department of Finance published last September had ten recommendations, and it was extraordinary that not one of those recommendations had been implemented by Government, he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he and the Government were very aware of the impact that rising rents are having for a lot of people.

He said in some cases this was putting people at risk of experiencing homelessness and people were being required to pay huge amounts of their post-tax income in rent, leaving little money for other costs such as childcare.

Mr Varadkar said this was exactly why rent pressure zones had been introduced and they now covered more than half of people renting.

He said these people were not covered in today's statistics as had acknowledged that they only covered new policies and tenancies.

Mr Varadkar said the Government was turning the Residential Tenancies Board into a regulator with more enforcement powers and was encouraging landlords to stay in the private rental sector.

He said the Minister for Housing was working on new guidelines, particularly around apartment building, which would make it more economic in inner cities where it was most needed.

Mr Martin said he did not know whether the Taoiseach was living in the real world.

He said the report by the Department of Finance was not published a long time ago, but only last September.

Mr Martin said the report contained measures designed to retain landlords and "you haven't a clue about it, coming here into the House.

He said the situation was a national emergency and there was no point trying to dress it up.

Sinn Féin's Housing Spokesman Eoin Ó Broin told the Taoiseach that rent pressure zones are not working, and he called for more robust protection for renters.

He told the Dáil that the latest data showed that tenants are paying rents higher than at the peak of the boom. 

He also said there was evidence of "under the table" payments and vulnerable tenants were expected to police the system.

The Taoiseach acknowledged that for those outside the pressure zone areas, there were significant rent increases but added that the Government is addressing the cause of the problem which is limited supply.

Mr Varadkar said the Government is open to considering additional measures, but warned that introducing measures that are too rigid could worsen the situation.

He rejected a call to link rents to the consumer price index, and said more time was needed to assess whether the current rent pressure zones are working.

Independent TD Tommy Broughan said every weekend he met families and individuals in great distress over the Government's inability to deliver social and affordable housing. 

Mr Broughan accused the Government and Fianna Fáil of doing everything possible to support a disproportionate and rigged property market and said a massive emergency programme of public and social housing was now needed as put forward by ICTU. 

Mr Varadkar said there was a seven-year period following the economic crisis in which very few homes were built at all, yet the population continued to grow. 

He said we are now playing catch up and there had been a trebling in the number of social homes directly built by councils and housing bodies.