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Saturday 18 November 2017

How to chop the cost of rent and beat the stampede for a home

the Young Ones - BBC
the Young Ones - BBC
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

The Irish students who trashed the San Franciscan home they rented for the summer haven't done their fellow globetrotters any favours. Irish people could well find it harder to rent a place abroad now - and they're already up against it here.

As well as grappling with sky-high rents, you could face a three-month wait to find a place to rent in Ireland - because the competition for rented accommodation is so stiff. "In general, tenants are finding a property between six and eight weeks," said Eileen Sheehy, head of lettings with Sherry FitzGerald. "However, if you have specific requirements, it could take longer - maybe two to three months."

Soaring rent costs have priced many people out of certain areas - unless they're prepared to lose most of their take-home pay to rent. You could pay as much as €1,400 a month to rent a one-bed apartment within a 10-minute walk of Dublin city centre for example - that's three-fifths the take-home pay of someone on the average wage.

So what do you need to do to secure a place to rent in Ireland? You must usually have the first month's rent and a security deposit (typically, the equivalent of a month's rent). Expect to pay more if you're bringing your beloved poodle or bulldog along. "A landlord would often request a double deposit if the tenant has a pet," says Sheehy.

Even having your first month's rent and deposit to hand when you go to view a property may not be enough. "The property may have gone to someone who offered to pay more rent," said Stephen Large, Dublin services manager with Threshold.

You will usually be asked to provide a reference from a previous landlord and some identification. You could be asked for bank statements, a bank reference, payslips or a letter from your employer confirming your salary. "If you are uncomfortable providing that financial information, you risk not getting the property," said Large.

Unfortunately, you don't have much choice but to grin and bear it when it comes to the information sought by a prospective landlord. The Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), which handles disputes between landlords and tenants, does not have the power to deal with disputes in cases where a tenancy never came into existence. "The PRTB would have no jurisdiction to deal with a complaint where an individual states that they missed out on a tenancy for failure to provide bank statements to a potential landlord," said a spokesman for the PRTB.

Prices

THE cost of renting an apartment near Dublin city centre has shot up by as much as 20pc over the last year, according to the latest report by daft.ie. Rents in the commuter belt and other major cities have also started to climb. So is there anything you can do to make renting a bit cheaper?

Stay in a digs or

rent out a room

STAYING in a family's home may not give you the privacy or freedom you would like, but digs can be a useful stop-gap - and it could easily halve the cost of rent. "Many of the properties advertised for digs are looking for between €130 and €150 a week - but this will vary depending on the location and whether or not meals or laundry are provided," said Large.

Digs are normally used by students, so if you are a professional looking for rented accommodation, renting a room in a landlord's home would probably be the better option - particularly if the room has its own private living quarters. It costs €461 a month on average to rent a single room in Dublin city centre, according to the latest daft.ie report.

There is a major drawback to renting a room or staying in a digs however. "You're giving up your tenancy rights if you go for digs or if you share with a landlord - as the normal landlord and tenant laws don't apply," said Large. "In some situations, that suits the tenant as they're not bound by any of the normal rules. However, if you have a dispute with your landlord, you have very little rights."

House share

WE'VE all heard the stories about the housemates from hell. However, if you can find people who you are happy to share with, you could rent a house or apartment for as little as €450 a month, depending on the location.

One of the downsides is the bills - particularly if one housemate doesn't pay his fair share. The onset of water charges could lead to tension among housemates.

"Once the water charges come in, people will be more conscious of the amount of water they - and others - are using," said Large. "You could see shower counts being introduced in house share situations."

Broaden your horizons

INSIST on living in or near a city centre and you can expect to pay above the average in rent. A two-bed apartment in Dublin's Grand Canal Dock could set you back €2,400 a month in rent. Head to Swords and you could rent a two-bed apartment for €1,300 a month.

Get some tax back

YOU may be able to get tax back on your rent - as long as you were renting before December 7, 2010 and have been renting continuously since. "Any individual paying for private rented accommodation used as a sole or main residence can claim the relief," said a spokeswoman for the Revenue Commissioners. "This includes rent paid for flats, apartments or houses. It does not include rent paid to local authorities or State agencies or under a lease agreement for 50 years or more."

Don't expect this tax break to put too much money back in your pocket, however. The Government started to phase out rent relief in 2010 so it is now worth less than half of what it was four years ago. The most you'll get back in tax for this year is €160 if you are single and under 55 - as you're only entitled to 20pc tax relief on up to €800 worth of rent. You can claim tax relief for the last four tax years if you haven't already done so. This could put as much as €1,160 back into your pocket - money you'll need to get ahead of the rental stampede.

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