Thursday 26 April 2018

Rent crisis means that, aged 34, I'm off home to live with Mum

Caoimhe Ni Laighin and her son have been given notice and she just can't afford a decent place to live in Dublin

Caoimhe Ni Laighin
Caoimhe Ni Laighin

Caoimhe Ni Laighin

I had a feeling this was brewing. I knew the day would come. A rent hike is what I foresaw, but no, full-blown eviction it is.

There isn't an ASBO against me. I haven't repeatedly blared The Prodigy at 3am. And I've never been late with my rent.

The apartment is required by the son of my landlord. And legally, they've every right to chuck me out in those circumstances.

I've been paying €1,150 a month on the apartment for two years. Alone. Before bills or blowdrys. I'm also a single mother, which is an expensive little lifestyle. In other words, I'm smashed as it is.

Lots of girls dream about trips to New York or Paris if they meet a man. My fantasies revolve around meeting someone with whom I could share my electricity bill.

And now I'm being turfed out into an extremely hostile market for renters. Anything decent in my area is €1,500. I just can't pay that.

And I'm not renting one of those depressing suicide boxes, with the carpet and wallpaper screaming at each other, the oven peeping out behind a curtain in the 'kitchen' and the electric fire menacingly threatening carbon dioxide poisoning.

There is an upsurge in economic evictions in Dublin right now. Rents are going through the roof and many renters are losing their homes as a result.

On average, it costs €1,200 a month to rent a house in Dublin, much higher than the national average. In the last quarter of 2013, prices rose 12 per cent in the capital, according to And Daft is expecting an even greater hike when the first-quarter 2014 results are published.

And what is being done about this? Why, nothing, of course! Perish the thought of doing something sensible like bringing in rent control.

As for me, at 34, I'm being granted residential asylum in my mother's house.

'Asylum' perfectly describes our strange little collective of housemates.

There's my moody teenage son, my supremely matriarchal mother and my 20-year-old niece, who is a student in Trinity and the absolute antithesis of what I was at 20; a clean-living gym freak who has recently embarked on a fruitarian diet as her militant veganism wasn't masochistic enough.

I was thinking of pretending to prospective dates that it's actually MY house and I benevolently let my mother live there.

But I'd be rumbled by the never-ending stream of forty-something siblings who ensconce themselves uninvited in the living room, having let themselves in the front door with their own key.

I'm moving back into my bedroom, which has been frozen in time – the Roald Dahl books still on the shelves, the children's stickers still on the wall, the 500-year-old carpet to which I've always had a vicious allergy still on the ground.

I'm thinking, 'Wow, haven't I come far?' But also thinking that I'm very, very lucky to have a home.

Caoimhe Ni Laighin is a journalist with Nuacht and TG4.

Sunday Independent

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