Saturday 22 November 2014

Louise Kelly: Renting may be a mug’s game - but someone’s got to do it.

Published 25/08/2013 | 14:42

SO on the back of all the property revelations this week, it has fallen upon me to move house this weekend.

Let me begin by confessing that I am a renter.  Part of a growing clique of late twenties/early thirties Irish that have not succumbed to the draw of living abroad and have yet to sign their name on the biggest contract of their lives.

For the last decade, I have lived in umpteen houses across Dublin, with the exception of a not so brief stint in the UK.  Over the years, I have become somewhat of an expert in the art of location reassignment. A first class graduate from the school of ‘Large Bulky Items are my Foe’, if you will.

Fair enough, I don’t have a mortgage so I am not among the 100,000 that are falling deeper into arrears – nor indeed part of the rest of the homeowner population that struggle to meet their largest direct debit every month.

And even if I was looking to send myself to mortgage slaughter, the glimmer of hope that the overly optimistic few see as a recession-exiting sign – the gradual but distinct rise of house prices – is not exactly good news for me. 

But what this latest house move has highlighted is just how difficult renting in Dublin has become. Naturally, the costs have begun to climb as the property bubble is starting to expand again.  But there are more – many more – gripes that taint the moving renter’s life, of which I have time to name just a few before I get back to lugging boxes.

1) Price

When the rent on your apartment rises by 25pc, you know it may be time to jump ship. Extortion I hear you say. Quite right; but when the law quite unhelpfully states that your new financial agreement is simply "the rent which a willing tenant not already in occupation would give and a willing landlord would take for the dwelling", you may be in a bit of a bind.

2) Parking/transport

Bit of a catch 22 here. Having a car to move all your belongings to their new home is almost essential – but finding a new abode, especially near the city, which actually lets you park this vehicle at no extra cost can prove rather difficult. Think annual parking permits and space rentals, if even available.

3) Estate Agents

I am sure there are some very lovely and capable agents out there but it has been my misfortune not to encounter any of them in these last few weeks. Between unanswered calls and emails, half-hearted viewings and blatantly rude conversations, I would be quite happy never to deal with an agency again. Chance would be…

4) False advertisements

Maybe different people have varying ideas of what ‘newly refurbished’, ‘large bedroom’, and ‘mod cons’ mean but I don’t think these concepts should be so far apart. Apart from the fact one house looked absolutely nothing like it was represented in the online pictures, the smell of urine was so overpowering that we couldn’t spend longer than 30 seconds in the place. And in that time, a cat (who may or may not have been responsible for the whiff) jumped out at us.

5) Packing

I like things to have their place. I might not go so far as alphabetising my CD collection (oldschool, I know) but I have definitely considered it. Nonetheless, after a few hours of folding and wrapping and stacking, I’ve had quite enough. Happily, I descend into the depths of ‘black sack land’ and chuck in whatever I can fit.

6) Cleaning

Last out turns off the lights and locks the door. In this case, cleans every inch of the apartment for fear our deposit won’t be returned. Now I will add to my confessions here by admitting that I do like a good cleanup – (refer also to anal weirdo in 5) – but when I won’t be staying to reap the benefits, the incentive wanes somewhat.  (And no I didn’t think of professionals until the very last minute)

7) Flatmates

Obviously, these can be quite the disparate bunch and you can really go in blind sometimes crossing your fingers that you haven’t shacked up with a psychopath or, god forbid, a morning person.  Luckily for me this time round, I’ve got an equally grouchy old pal to share the monthly rent with.

8) Neighbours

Again it’s really the luck of the draw on this one. With added security and gated properties comes curtain twitchers and disapproving glares the morning after the night before.  On the other hand, having to keep your bike inside for fear it will be nicked out of the back garden doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy feeling either.

All that being said I am quite looking forward to moving into our new home and making the house our own.  As we sit around our coal effect gas fire eating marshmallows from Tescos, we will breathe a sigh of relief and content that we have found the very best place there is.

At least until our lease is up in twelve months.

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