With a search area that stretched around Dublin from Cavan to Kildare to Wexford, and plenty of notice from his landlord, Musa Tshikota didn't anticipate he'd have too much difficulty finding a new place to rent for his family. He was wrong.
“We got notice from our landlord in Cavan at the start of the year that he was selling up and we should start looking for a place. We were with him quite a while and we were good tenants so he was giving us time.”
Musa, his wife, Emma, and their three children Jayden (11), Kaylie (4) and Cassie (1), had been renting a five-bedroom house in Bailieborough, for €900 a month, but it quickly became apparent that there was nothing to rent in the area – not only nothing at a similar price, simply nothing.
“We wanted to stay in Cavan initially, with children in school, but there was absolutely nothing to rent.”
They began to widen their search. "We said we'd start looking in Dublin, because that's where I work. We knew it would be more expensive, but we thought we could save money on commuting costs, but we couldn't get anywhere that was big enough for a family. So we thought we'd look at Kildare, and Louth, and then Gorey, anywhere on the outskirts of Dublin really."
However, despite searching daily it was proving impossible.
“There is just a lack of availability for a family the size of ours, and a lot of them were really overpriced. Then, even if we found a place there’d be a waiting list, or they’d tell you they weren’t doing viewings and that they’d come back to you via email, but most never did.”
Then one day during the summer on his daily dispiriting trawl on property website Daft.ie he came across an advertisement for Clúid's cost rental housing in Taylor's Hill in Balbriggan.
“I spotted the ad, but I didn’t even tell my wife I’d put in the application, because it was a lottery and I knew there’d be a lot of boxes to tick, and I didn’t want to get her hopes up. I did it, then kept looking and forgot about it.”
A week or so later he got to call to say his lottery number had come up.
“It was a godsend. There was only one four-bedroom house, and we had been picked out. It was just so very, very lucky.”
There was a process of providing documentation to go through to prove they were eligible for the house, and could afford the rent, as well as an interview process, but eventually at the beginning of September they got their keys.
"We fell in love with the house straight away, it's been smooth sailing ever since. The kids love it, we're just very, very happy here, we have lovely neighbours, and the big bonus is it's a lot closer to work than Cavan, I can be in Finglas in half an hour."
The family pays €1,150 a month in rent, more than they were paying in Cavan, but he says the shortened commute evens things out.
“If you calculate it, there’s two tolls, there’s the price of diesel, we’re actually better off.”
Also he says the family would never have found a four-bedroom house anywhere close to Dublin for that price.
"When we were moving a friend was moving at the same time. He's ended up in a two-bed apartment in Malahide for €2,800 a month. If we were paying that it would take us forever to save to buy our own place."
I think the biggest appeal of this place is that it is long term. After six months' probation you have a contract for six years, it's absolutely fantastic
Perhaps the biggest appeal he says is the security of long-term lease.
“When you’re renewing every year, you have no security, things can change for you any time, like if the landlord wants to sell. Then you’re back trying to find a place and it can be very stressful. Moving is very hard. I think the biggest appeal of this place is that it is long term. After six months’ probation you have a contract for six years, it’s absolutely fantastic, and you don’t have the risk of a landlord jacking up the rent.”
Musa, who works in logistics, and Emma hope that in six years’ time they will be in a position to buy.
“It is possible we will decide to stay here for a more long-term basis, because the rent is so stable and we have security, but at the moment we think we would like to save up to buy, to have something of our own. But for someone who is looking to stay in the rental sector this is perfect for them for the long term.
“If you’re on a starting salary of €28,000-€30,000 at least half your wages are going on rent. I think the biggest thing the Government could do to help renters would be to have more of this.”