An entire generation feel hopeless: Stories from Ireland's rental crisis 8 months ago

An entire generation feel hopeless: Stories from Ireland's rental crisis

We asked renters to share their stories from a rental market in chaos.

The amount of properties available to rent across Ireland has dropped to an all-time low, leading to ever-growing rent prices around the country, according to Daft.

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In the mad world of Irish property, repaying a mortgage is now typically less expensive than paying rent. But many people spend half their wages on rent, leaving them unable to save, and preventing them from being able to get a mortgage. Enter Generation Rent.

And, sure, there are some positives about renting but the majority of us could write a longer list of the things that suck (black mould and raining ceilings spring to mind).

We asked people to share their real-life renting horror stories.

Harry Potter's bedroom

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As we know, many landlords are taking advantage of the state of this current rental market - properties are often badly maintained.

Emma, a 27-year-old from Dublin, found herself forced to move into such a property with poor living conditions. Reluctant, but under pressure to find somewhere fast, she took the first affordable place she could find.

"In the viewing, I had noticed an old shoddy door in the wall of my bedroom that was sealed off with a big four-inch gap at the bottom. The landlord told me it was an old wardrobe.

"I quickly found out there was loads of stuff about the house that I was lied to about before I moved in - the number of people living there, the cost of the bills, the state of the place… 

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“One day, not too long after moving in, I was asked to do a house-viewing last minute for a girl. I felt really torn about it.

“There was one part of me really didn't want to do the landlord's dirty bidding for him. I felt I should've been warding her away from the place, I mean I'd been duped. But I showed her to where I was told the room was.

“As soon as I opened the door I saw the old shoddy door at the back of that room and realised my room was behind that one! She asked me where it leads to and told me this wasn't the room she saw online."

Naturally, the girl declined but, as Emma explains, the landlord finally did get someone to take the "Harry Potter under the stairs-esque" room for €600 a month.

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“The new tenant was a nice guy, but it was very awkward being in your bedroom and being able to hear every single word of each other's conversation. We had zero privacy.

“Another couple living there said that this place was much better than where they had lived previously. They showed me pictures... their 'bed' had consisted of a mattress on top of cinder blocks and there was a mice infestation. They looked very traumatised when talking about it.

"The whole affair was very strange and unsettling," she concludes.

You're pregnant? Get out!

A reoccurring theme among tenants we spoke to was how just how ruthless landlords can be - including the lengths they will go to not return a security deposit.

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“Our lease was up and we contacted our landlord to see that all was okay for another year," says Freya, a 31-year-old nurse from Kilkenny. "We  told her that we would love a two-year lease if possible because I was pregnant. She said she couldn't see it being a problem at all."

Minutes later, Freya and her partner received a phone call from the landlord saying she had decided to sell. Given no real reason, the pair were understandably shocked, though had no choice but to oblige. Then came the inspection.

“She came and inspected the place with a fine tooth comb. She first accused me of stealing her couch cushions, I said that I had just put them away in the attic. She said that she would fine me if I couldn't provide them.

“She started getting verbally aggressive telling me that there was dog urine stain on the floor. I told her it was right at the back door and it was from water coming in the door as it was raining heavily and there was a small gap down the bottom. 

“It was absolutely horrible. I was left standing at the front door in the rain crying because she was so nasty to me. She ended up keeping a good chunk of our deposit for the 'dog urine' which was really just water. She looked for any excuse to fine me. 

"She eventually did sell the house... but it was a good while later. I reckon she just wanted us out to get another childless couple in."

Since then, the couple have gone on to find a new home with a "gent" of a landlord. "It makes all the difference." Freya says. 

An unwelcome guest.

Another very common story was that of landlords not respecting a tenant's privacy - from entering a house uninvited to dictating how a renter should act in the property.

For Daniel* from Tipperary, things were taken a step further when his landlord decided to move in with him.

"My landlord had a relationship break-up and has moved into the house without asking us," he says. "Everything is now micro-managed. He has a go at people and if you stand up for yourself, he is vocal about you being evicted. So, more or less, go against things and you’re homeless.

"I’ve argued with him several times and in the end, I have to walk away. Like, he just talks down to people the whole time. He always uses stuff belonging to people, takes their stuff, and there is zero privacy.

"There’s zero places to move into right now, so you’re stuck or else you run the risk of being homeless."

Commenting on such issues, a spokesperson for the Rental Tenancies Board said it's important renters know they do have rights protected under the Residential Tenancies Act.

"A property has to be in good condition," they said. "And a landlord can only enter the property with the tenant’s permission, unless every attempt has been made to contact them.

"We would encourage landlords and tenants to ensure that all agreements are in writing so that both sides are clear of the detail and what is expected from the tenancy.

"However, an agreement cannot provide less rights than the Residential Tenancies Act provides. For example, a lease may state that the landlord has unlimited access to the property, however under the Act, a tenant is entitled to privacy and a landlord must have a tenant’s permission to access the property."