In Dublin, there were just 73 homes to rent for under €2k. In Paris there were 4,000

The French Embassy in Dublin has issued an alert about Ireland’s ‘severe housing crisis’


Just 35 homes were available to rent in Dublin for less than €2,000 on the property website myhome.ie last Thursday morning, and when a would-be renter’s budget was increased to €3,000 the number of properties on offer climbed to 63.

Over on daft.ie, 73 homes were listed across Dublin for €2,000 or less, rising to 155 when the budget was increased to €3,000.

It was a very different story in France on the same day.

In Paris, just under 4,000 homes were available to rent for €2,000 or less, according to the property website seloger.com. In Marseilles, which has a population of close to one million, there were more than 1,300 properties available, with the cheapest studio costing €327 per month and a three-bedroom villa, spread over 112sq m with a garden, priced at €1,980 a month.

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As well as availability, another striking difference between here and there is demand. According to one expat website offering advice to people relocating to France, a flat in Paris is likely to attract interest from five potential renters, with the level of interest in a city such as Metz falling to less than two people per flat, a sobering figure given the long queues forming outside properties for rent in Dublin, not to mention the email applications that can easily top 500.

It is in this context that the French embassy in Dublin last week felt compelled to issue a warning to would-be renters from France planning to come to Ireland.

The alert highlighted the “severe housing crisis” and the “significant difficulties in finding accommodation” in Ireland, and it pointed to a sharp increase in rents in this part of the world, with rents now “much more expensive than in Paris, including shared accommodation”.

“It is therefore advisable for people planning to settle in Ireland to allow sufficient time for this search for accommodation (which can take several weeks),” the French warning said, and it also highlighted what it described as the “risk of scams on the various ad sites”.

On a par with London

Ireland is certainly expensive, but it is by no means the world’s most expensive place to rent.

Statistics website numbeo.com uses data mined from people who access its services to work out the cost of living in cities and countries all over the world. It suggests that the cost of renting in Dublin is 24 per cent more than in Paris and puts Dublin on a par with London. The cost of renting in Geneva, meanwhile, is 37 per cent dearer than in Paris, while anyone looking to rent a home in New York will pay 62 per cent more than they do in the French capital.

But there is no warning or advisory about high prices on the sites of the French embassies in the UK, Switzerland or the US.

So why the focus on dear old Dublin from French diplomats?

The answer is expectations. French people moving to Geneva, London or New York know what to expect and are prepared for high prices. It has been that way for many years on those locations. They might not, however, be as up to speed with what is happening in Ireland, and may be labouring under the misapprehension that the living is both easy and cheap in Ireland. It is neither, and — as the French note makes clear — finding a place to live here is, if anything, harder for the people looking to relocate here than finding the money to pay for the accommodation.

Criminals are exploiting the difficulties people are having finding a place to live, and have been particularly targeting people coming in from overseas. The French advisory warned new arrivals not to sign a contract or pay a deposit without having previously visited the accommodation and met the owner or estate agency. It alerted people to the prevalence of scammers working the Irish property market.

It is advice that Louise Béguine from Rennes wishes she had read before she went searching for a place to live in Dublin.

She is doing a masters in art and design in Dún Laoghaire and, in advance of her arrival in Dublin, had spent a fruitless and frustrating few weeks searching for a place to live.

“I was getting really nervous about if I would find a place and every mail I sent was ignored. I was getting no answers from anyone,” she says.

Then, out of the blue, she received a mail from someone who claimed they had listed a property she had looked at on daft.ie. “I trusted the mail,” she says. “And I felt confident that I had finally found a place to live. I was so stressed that I really wanted to believe in it.”

The mails came from a person who said their name was Sean Kennedy — there were multiple email contacts between Béguine and “Sean Kennedy”, and while it is clear that ”Sean Kennedy” did not appear to have the best command of his mother tongue and made some unusual syntax and grammatical errors, the mistakes were not so serious that they might stand out for a non-native speaker. They certainly did not cause any alarm bells to ring for Béguine.

Over email, she asked her new “landlord” to send a contract, saying she thought the paperwork would “in some way protect me”.

“Sean Kennedy” also sent a video of what he said would be her new home, and explained that he could not take or receive any calls because he had been snowed under with requests for properties he was renting.

When the person answered, I explained that I was there to move in and I had all my stuff with me. They just looked at me and said no. I really didn’t understand

“I saw the place on the video, I read the contract. I signed it and I sent a deposit — the first month’s rent, which was €1,600 euro. That is a lot for me,” she said.

Days later, she arrived in Dublin and headed to the Smithfield area and to what she thought was her new home. “I knocked at the door and when the person answered, I explained that I was there to move in and I had all my stuff with me. They just looked at me and said no. I really didn’t understand.”

Béguine mentioned the name of the “landlord” she had been dealing with, and the person let her into the house. “They told me the same thing had happened to another French girl a few days earlier, and to a Spanish girl. I went to the police and I explained what had happened and they took a statement and that was that.”

She says the garda she had spoken to was downbeat about her prospects of getting the money back, not least because it had been sent from a French bank account to one based in England and now she was making the complaint in Ireland. “And when I contacted my bank in France they said there was nothing I could do.”

She says that for her, the warning on the French embassy site “came too late. When I was still looking for a place to live I didn’t realise how bad the situation was in Dublin, I didn’t imagine it was like this. But since I have been here I have met so many people who are struggling.”

I am used to the struggle for accommodation, but I have never heard of anyone being scammed where I am from

She is from a university town in France and says things can be “really bad where I live too as there is a lot of people looking for a cheap place to live. But it is much, much harder in Dublin, much more expensive. I am used to the struggle for accommodation but I have never heard of anyone being scammed where I am from. It might happen but I have never heard of it.”

She did find a place to live — a house share which is costing her €800 a month. “It is a lot of money, I have some grants and am supported by the French government a bit, but it is twice as much as I would pay for a studio where I could live on my own in Rennes. So for that reason alone, I think the warning from the embassy was definitely appropriate.”

The French embassy in Ireland said: “September is [a] very busy period for young French people coming to Ireland, and Ireland in particular is a very popular destination for French students. The update on our website was written in reaction to an unusually high number of situations that we had been made aware of in recent weeks. With French students being the largest cohort of Erasmus students in Ireland, the article was written in order to make them aware of the current situation in Ireland in relation to renting accommodation.

“Each individual Embassy of France manages the material posted on its own website, therefore the Embassy of France in Ireland acted on its own initiative by updating the website.”