Renting in Ireland: ‘I’m 35 at home with my mother. That’s ridiculous’

Hard-to-find, expensive accommodation makes life hard for tenants in southeast

Brett Egan: ‘I think it’s just greed to be honest.’

Brett Egan: ‘I think it’s just greed to be honest.’

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Brett Egan says life is stalling. “I’m 35 living at home with my mother. That’s ridiculous like,” he says while resting on marble in Waterford’s John Roberts Square. “You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. I don’t know what to do.”

The gym trainer moved home to his native Ardmore as rental costs rose but now feels “hemmed in”.

According to a new Daft report, market rents rose by 16.2 per cent year-on-year in Waterford, higher than anywhere else in the country.

The rent for Egan’s old home in Dungarvan has since jumped from €400 to €750 a month in the space of two years.

“The place is damp, it’s not a good spot. It is what it is though, you have to take the worst of it because you might not get anything else,” he says.

“I think it’s just greed to be honest. They’ll probably think they’ll get anyone no matter what but for the state of the place it’s not worth it. There’s dampness all year round. It’s extortion.”

‘Pipe dream’

Egan is concerned about “missed opportunities” in life, a feeling shared by Ronan Morris, who doesn’t see a way out of renting.

“I don’t see myself ever having my own [place] if I’m being honest. It seems really unfeasible,” the 30 year old says.

Ronan Morris: ‘I don’t see myself ever having my own place if I’m being honest.’
Ronan Morris: ‘I don’t see myself ever having my own place if I’m being honest.’

His parents built their Co Wexford home in the mid-1990s on a mortgage of £30,000 when they were 28. “I definitely feel like it was realistic for my parents’ generation to assume they could get out of the rental market but it just feels like a pipe dream for myself.”

Morris, who works as a barman and musician, successfully pleaded with one Airbnb owner to allow him to rent out the space at a “converted shed” near Annestown.

“It was around winter last year, I sent out a load of messages to Airbnb owners. I was delighted actually because it was €1,200 for the month on Airbnb but she offered it to me for €500 for the month.”

He has been able to stay “indefinitely” by paying a little bit more but accepts “that’s a very unusual find” for any renter.

“It’s so difficult to find places in Waterford. It’s nearly as bad as Dublin in fairness.”

Couch-surfing

School assistant Caterina Noblett is exasperated at how much of a “struggle” it has been to find a home. She “couch-surfed” with her twin eight-year-old sons for over a year and is now paying €1,100 monthly to rent in Ballybricken in Waterford.

Caterina Noblett: ‘I was homeless for 14 months and we went from couch to couch.’
Caterina Noblett: ‘I was homeless for 14 months and we went from couch to couch.’

“It’s only that because it’s a friend of the family. It would have been dearer otherwise. I was homeless for 14 months and we went from couch to couch. Oasis [the women’s shelter] took me in for a while and then I had to book into various hotels and was staying with my sister an odd while.

“We’re in Ballybricken since September but that is up this September. We’re only getting settled now, so it’s hard, it’s just really hard on the twins. I’ve been told I could be on the council list for 12 years to get a house that way so I’m trying for Hap [housing assistance payment] to get somewhere else.”

At the other end of the scale, engineering student Franzeska Martonelli has had a taste of the rental market at the college campus for the South East Technological University over the past few months. She’s paying €600 monthly for a room in a four-bed apartment.

“For that amount of money I’d get a really fancy place in Germany. I wasn’t expecting much but I wasn’t expecting this.”

Franzeska Martonelli: ‘For that amount of money I’d get a really fancy place in Germany.’
Franzeska Martonelli: ‘For that amount of money I’d get a really fancy place in Germany.’