‘I’ve been looking for a house with my children since May and I’m really anxious now’

Rising rents: Tenants tell their stories as they face brunt of the housing crisis

 

Sinead Lambert

I’ve been looking for a house with my children since May of last year. In the meantime, my landlord decided he needs to sell. Now I have exactly a month to be out and I’m getting really anxious now.

I’m hoping to get a house, but at this stage it looks like it will have to be anything – but an apartment with three children will be a bit squashed. There is an awful lot of competition. I’m on rent allowance and I think it’s because of that [it is proving so difficult], even if you’re told it’s not the case. That’s if they even bother to let you know whether you’ve got it or not.

The main problem is, you could apply for 10 [houses] in a week and maybe hear back from one to say that there is a viewing. A lot of them don’t get back to you. I think there is so much demand in general and personally I think landlords prefer to take money straight up. One property I looked at was priced at €1,400. I emailed and got an email back, which I’d say was sent to everyone, [to say] that the viewing will be on Saturday and that she had been offered a substantial amount more than €1,400, so whatever you want to bid.

A couple of landlords have told me that they get offered backhanders before the house is even viewed, so you’re up against that as well.

If I don’t find something, it would be the emergency accommodation and I really don’t want to go into that. I know people who have been in the same situation. They went into the emergency accommodation and were left for two-and-a-half years.

My children are in school in the area, but I can worry about that after – the main thing is just having a house. There are many sleepless nights at the moment. Plus rents are a scandalous price. Some of the houses I’ve seen are a disgrace. Something needs to be sorted very soon. Some of them are in an awful state.

It’s up to the landlords themselves, they are getting [the rent they are looking for] because there are so many people looking. There could be 50 people standing outside. Every day we are applying for something, waiting for them to get back to you and you can’t do anything other than that. It’s very frustrating.

Ciara Cotter

The apartment I live in stinks of damp. The paint is peeling off the walls and there is black mould growing in the bathroom. Despite that, myself and my two other housemates are all working professionals, [yet] it feels we’re living like first-year college students. My lease is coming to an end in the coming months, and you might ask why we don’t just up and move out; we would, except the housing crisis is forcing our hand. There simply isn’t anything else out there.

I am a 26-year-old marketing analyst working in Galway. I graduated from my masters last year and think it may have been easier to find a job than to find somewhere to live. I live with my two friends in an apartment which comprises a box-room, a double room and a single room – this last room is mine.

I pay €450 a month, but if I lay 450 €1 coins out on the floor side by side I think I would honestly struggle to fit them all in.

The intense demand for a limited number of properties means you really have to fight to get a property, all while trying to avoid the multitude of scams going on.

I got in touch with one person who I could tell immediately was a scammer. He said he was a deputy general manager at a company based in Switzerland, and he was in charge of training new employees. His job, he said, didn’t allow him to leave Switzerland, “not even for one day”. He said because he couldn’t meet me in person, he set up the apartment on AirBnB and that I should book through there. The website [he referred me to] turned out to be a fake version of the website. When I traced his IP, it indicated that he was either based in the US or using a VPN proxy. The photo of the apartment, which he said was on Lough Atalia road in Galway city, was in fact a photo of an apartment in Washington DC.

We’d happily pay more for a different place, but there isn’t anything available where I’m based. The problem, in my experience, is widespread; one of my colleagues on my master’s course was homeless for the first semester of the year, hopping between different people’s couches.

It’s a good thing that my housemates and I are all such good friends because if not, living in such close quarters would be a disaster. We all love to cook, but the space is so prohibitively small that there isn’t really an adequate surface to chop vegetables on. We don’t really have people over because it’d be so cramped for them. My cousin was visiting last weekend and I couldn’t offer him a place to stay. I’m trying to do a second postgraduate degree and I’ve been really struggling because there isn’t really a big enough space in the apartment to study – I end up either staying late at work or going to a hotel.

If there were any other option, even if it was more expensive, we’d take it. There are no options though – it’s a bit of a joke.

Martina Di Renzo

If I don’t get anything, by next Monday I am going to be in a B&B. My job is formally starting on Monday. Apple told me I had a couple of months to get settled. The contract is signed. It is not a good way to start a job without a fixed address.

My biggest concern was getting a permanent contract. It didn’t go through my mind at all that the biggest challenge would be accommodation. I didn’t think I wouldn’t get a place.

I lived most of my life in Ireland. During the recession, I started struggling with work so I decided to go to Italy for a few years but it didn’t work out. I came back here, I got a permanent job with Apple but it has been three months now. I had a room in a house with a nice landlady but it was only temporary. I can’t find anything. I went to see lots of places.

I am going to talk to the HR department in Apple and see what they can do, what is possible, if they have some connections as a company. The negative outcome is that I would have to leave the position. There is no point having a permanent position if you don’t have a home.

I have had to use foreign bank accounts here. I have an account here but Bank of Ireland won’t reactivate it unless I have proof of address.

Yesterday I found myself begging an agent who was sympathetic. I was haggling to give more of a deposit upfront to reassure the landlord that I can afford it. I am a woman in my 50s, I am not going to have parties, I don’t have young children, my children are grown up and live elsewhere.

I’ve looked at every kind of property. There is a typology of renting, if you want a one-bed apartment in the city centre, there is no hope, there is a queue of young males working in call centres.

The thing that has also surprised me is the price. Cork has the same prices as Milan. I can understand Dublin, although it is too high. I don’t know how Cork can charge these rents. Haggling is a common practice, there are stories of people haggling with landlords, haggling under the table. It is a very unregulated and cowboy market.

Interviews by Jennifer Duggan and Eva Short