Renters’ woes: ‘I feel betrayed. I’ve taken care of their home like it was mine’

Scot Bucholz’s landlord contacted him this week to say the rent was going up

Scot Bucholz moved to Dublin from Denver in the US in 2014 to study journalism.

Scot Bucholz moved to Dublin from Denver in the US in 2014 to study journalism.

 

When Scot Bucholz moved to Ireland from Colorado in 2014 he was surprised to be asked to pay a month’s rent on top of a deposit for his apartment on Cork Street in Dublin 8. However, after three months searching for a property that would accept his dog, he was also relieved to finally have accommodation in his new home city.

He was surprised when, last year, his landlord got in touch to say he was raising the rent by 11.5 per cent. Bucholz had spent the previous 24 months dealing with over priced heating bills, water leaking through the windows, broken blinds and unfinished repairs on the property and was fed up calling his landlord for answers. A price hike in the rental agreement was not what he expected.

“It was €1,300 a month when I moved in and they wanted to raise it €1,425. I had worked in property management in the US where the normal increase on property is 3-5 per cent annually. I told him the Government had said rents could only be increased by four per cent and paid him that.”

Bucholz, who recently completed his studies in journalism at Griffith College, says his landlord justified the rent hike as necessary for the mortgage repayments on his family’s home in Mayo. “I told him it’s not my responsibility to fund the lifestyle you’ve created and cannot afford.”

The landlord did not raise the possibility of another price hike until earlier this week when, two days before he was set to travel to Austria to meet his family for a holiday, Bucholz received an email from the landlord.

“He said he was considering selling to his employer and wanted to know what my plans were. Later that night he got back to me with the offer of putting the rent up to €1,525 for the next six months. He said he still wasn’t making enough to cover his mortgage. I told him the people who live above me had been there eight years and I pay more than them even though we have the exact same style of flat layout.”

Raise prices

Bucholz says his landlord’s response was that another flat in the Cork street complex cost €1,600 to rent and that real estate agents had advised him to raise his prices.

“Just because a newer flat that has new quality stuff can command that type of rent does not mean everyone can raise their rent,” Bucholz says on the phone from Austria. “If you’re not taking care of your asset and maintaining it at a certain level for habitation, you cannot get the same value for rent. I pointed out once again that I still had water coming in and part of the ceiling was not closed up. I also don’t have working smoke detectors in my building. Anywhere else that’s illegal.”

Bucholz says Dublin City Council has a responsibility to introduce rent control in the capital. “It is up to local governments to look after their residents. What the State should be doing is changing mortgage laws and allowing people to refinance their loans.

“This is truly another banking issue with landlords as the scapegoat. If banks had better mortgage laws it would give people a better opportunity to either own a home or find somewhere to rent.”

Bucholz is worried he may not have a home when he returns from his holiday in Austria.

“I feel betrayed. I’ve taken care of their home like it was mine. Just because they’ve put themselves in a financial situation, I’m now the key to solving their problems by putting me in a financial situation. This level of stress has me as a grown man in tears. “