The annual growth rate of rents declined significantly during the lockdown after the Government introduced a rent freeze, new figures show today. 

The Residential Tenancies Board said the growth rate in March was over 3%, but by April this had fallen to 0.4% and it declined again in May to 0.1%. 

By June, the annual growth rate had turn negative with prices falling by 3.3% compared to the same month last year. 

During lockdown, the RTB also saw a significant decline in the number of tenancies registered with it. 

There were over 7,000 registrations with the board in March, while this had fallen to less than 4,000 in April. The number also remained subdued in May, it added.

Today's real-time analysis examines the short-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on private rental prices in Ireland. 

The analysis was undertaken by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and was published today with the regular quarterly Rent Index for the three months from January to March. 

The index showed that the national standardised average rent was €1,231 per month in the first quarter of 2020, an increase of 5.4% (€64) from the same time last year. 

This growth rate compares to 6.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019, 7.4% in the third quarter, and 6.8% in the second quarter.

The RTB noted that the average rent of €993 in the first quarter of 2008 was the peak pre-recession rent, so nationally rents are now 24% - €238 - higher than this peak. 

The Dublin rental market continues to be the largest in the country, accounting for just over two in five new tenancies registered or renewed with the RTB.

Dublin's standardised average rent in Dublin was €1,735, up from €1,647 in the first quarter of 2019 - an annual increase of 5.3% or €88.

Rents in Dublin are now 33% higher than this peak of  €1,301 in the fourth quarter of 2007, the board noted.

The RTB said that just over 60% of Dublin tenancies had a rent level greater than €1,500, compared to 6.6% in the rest of the country.

Apartments or flats make-up 71.9% of the rental market in Dublin, compared to 42.2% in the Greater Dublin Area and 37.6% in the rest of the country.

Outside of the Greater Dublin Area, the RTB said the standardised average rent stood at €870 in the first quarter of 2020, up from €833 the previous year.

Padraig McGoldrick, Interim Director of the RTB, said the Covid-19 crisis presents new challenges for both landlords and tenants across the country. 

He said the RTB  continues to encourage those who are experiencing issues in their tenancies during this time to visit its website [www.rtb.ie] for information on how to resolve issues and, if necessary, use the RTB's telephone mediation service.

This is a free service to help landlords and tenants resolve a dispute in a mutually beneficial manner, and does not require people to leave their home, he added.

Meanwhile, the Bandon-Kinsale Local Electoral Area has been designated as a Rent Pressure Zone from today.