Wednesday 28 September 2016

'I am afraid that it's already too late for me to ever own my own property'

Gráinne Loughran

Published 20/07/2016 | 02:30

Paula Saul is in private rented accommodation and admits there’s little hope of saving a mortgage deposit. Photo: Arthur Carron
Paula Saul is in private rented accommodation and admits there’s little hope of saving a mortgage deposit. Photo: Arthur Carron

Renting was once seen as a step towards the property ladder and owning a home.

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But now people of all ages are finding themselves tenants, for indefinite periods of time. The high costs involved mean that a mortgage remains a pipedream for most.

Paula Saul (28), from Clondalkin, Co Dublin, is struggling to make ends meet in private rented accommodation. She works part-time as a care assistant in a nursing home and is a single parent to a four-year-old daughter.

"Before I had my child I worked full time. I would have liked to save for a mortgage but there's no possibility of that now," said Paula.

"I don't think I'll ever be able to buy my own home. I'd like to imagine that I would, but I'm paying rent. I'd never be able to save anything."

Although she is on the waiting list for a council house, Paula and her daughter are going down in the list of priority rather than up.

"I went to them before I started renting to see how long I would be waiting, and they said that 250 people were in front of me.

"Then I went back six months later and there were even more people in front of me that had been prioritised," she said.

Paula searched for over a year to find housing that would accept rent allowance. "I viewed over 50 properties and I just never got a call back," she said.

"I saved the deposit over the year while I was looking, so it wasn't that I hadn't got that - there was no reason for them not to accept me."

Her four sisters live in a two-bedroom house with their mother because they can't afford to move out. Some of her friends have even been made homeless.

"I don't know if I'm going to be one of them," she said. "I can't do this forever. I can barely pay rent; it's constantly playing catch up all the time. If I get sick and I can't work and can't pay my rent, what do I do then?"

Noel Cummins (51) is in a different living situation - but he can't afford to buy his own home either. "I'd like to buy a place, but I can't," he told the Irish Independent.

"I just don't have the money, it's as simple as that."

He has a steady job as a legal executive and his partner Anne works part-time in insurance. The couple are currently living in Rathgar, Dublin, with their 10-year-old son. But Noel believes he'll be renting for the rest of his life.

"Bottom line is that unless you can save up a fortune every week, you're not going to be able to get on the property ladder," he said.

"With the exorbitant rents to pay, it's impossible to save. It's a never-ending spiral of working to make ends meet, so how can you ever save for a deposit to buy a property?"

The family are now being forced to move from their rented home of seven years by their landlord, who is selling the property. The couple are looking for a long-term lease to give their son a steady place to live.

"We try to settle down in an area, it's necessary for children to have a solid place to grow up in. Obviously one would like to buy a property so that you can have that, but it's impossible," said Noel.

He believes that the lack of available housing, combined with poor regulation of the sector, has resulted in a market where some landlords are exploiting their tenants.

"Landlords continue to abuse tenants and are letting out substandard properties," he said. "If a landlord wants to up the rent and you have an issue with it, the next thing you'll get is a notice to quit so he can put someone else in who will pay extra. I can understand business, but that appears to be an abuse of the whole process."

Noel says that at his age, it is unlikely he will ever be able to afford to pay for a house. "I'm 51 now. Banks won't be rushing to give me a mortgage.

"As you get older, it gets harder to get on the property ladder because you haven't got 100 years to live where you can pay back the mortgage, so you're obviously going to be paying exorbitant mortgage repayments.

"That obviously is a huge difficulty for middle-aged people," he said.

Irish Independent

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