Opinion: Ireland's rental crisis means landlords are getting away with too much
Welcome to Ireland. Rents are extortionate, tenants seem to be evicted for no reason, and the pandemic's made everything worse.
An entire generation of young people have seen the chance of owning a home stolen from them.
Instead, we're renting box rooms, being forced back into our parent's houses - and even kicked out onto the streets.
According to Raise The Roof, a campaign fighting for affordable housing for all, the typical home in Dublin is now beyond the financial reach of more than 85% of the population. Over 75% of renters stay renting because they cannot access public housing or find affordable homes.
It doesn't help that rent has doubled in the past ten years - and continues to rise. Many people are now spending over 50% of their income on rent.
It's a vicious cycle. A catch-22. Waving goodbye to your chances of ever owning a home as you hand over half your wages to a landlord each month. Money that could just as well pay for the mortgage on your brand new home if you were given a chance.
Recent public anger and demonstrations organised by groups like Raise The Roof put pressure on the government to enact small measures for renters but issues still remain.
And to make matters worse, with the extortionate rent we're forking out, many of us aren't even getting our money's worth.
As someone who's rented in Dublin for eight years, I've been through some ups and downs and I'll never understand how landlords get away with the things they manage to get away with.
For example, my first apartment was a one-bed that the landlord had decided to market as a three-bed. I shared a window with my roommate, as a fake wall divided the space into two, right down the centre of the window. The third bedroom was the dining room.
Then there was the landlord who didn't understand the basic concept of privacy and would let herself (and her kids) in whenever she wished, for reasons unknown. When I confronted her I was met with an angry look and a: "But it's my house?"
Next, there was the apartment with the ceiling that rained every time the upstairs neighbour had a shower - the landlord was “fixing it next week” for over a year.
You put up with landlords doing whatever the hell they want because rental properties - especially affordable ones - are so damn scarce. At least that's how it was for me, I didn't dare complain for fear of being replaced and having to start the frantic and torturous house search all over again.
And I’ve saved the best story for last: The time my house fell down on top of me. I lived in a small granny flat with my best friend at the time and the leaky ceiling was relentless. Under the promise that the leaks would be fixed as soon as possible, and the guilt of an overstayed welcome on my sister's couch, I had paid my deposit and moved in.
The landlord provided us with buckets to catch the endless drips. I told myself it was okay for the time being. Until one morning I arrived home to find the entire roof of my bedroom had collapsed in.
Bits of ceiling were scattered everywhere and the oh-so-familiar smell of black mould filled the room. We called my landlord, after sending her pictures, in an absolute panic.
Her response: “Do you want another bucket?”
We left the house that day.
But what if I had nowhere else to go? For many people, running from entitled landlords like I've done throughout my twenties just isn’t an option.
I still rent, but I've finally found a house with great roommates and a godsend of a landlord. Yes, they do exist.
I was lucky, but people are experiencing the same thing as me and much worse throughout Ireland every day. Some people don't have a choice and corrupt landlords are taking advantage of that.
Bottom line: renting in Ireland is fine if you have money, but it can be hell if you don't.