Saturday 19 October 2019

Shared-living model here is 'not in interest of tenants'

Roam founder hits out at 'removal of standards' from country's housing market, writes Michael Cogley

Roam CEO Bruno Haid
Roam CEO Bruno Haid

The chief executive of one of the world's best-known shared-living companies has criticised the Government's guidelines for the concept.

Housing minister Eoghan Murphy last year amended planning guidelines to introduce the model to the Irish market, under which multiple self-catered bedrooms share living spaces and kitchens.

Murphy attracted high levels of criticism last week after he said that young people should be "excited" to pay less rent for less space, in reference to the model.

Now shared-living company Roam - which has locations in London, Bali, San Francisco, Tokyo and Miami - said that it was "open" to setting up here, but added that the way it had been implemented in Ireland was wrong.

"Part of why we haven't found a property that's a good match yet is that we haven't seen the quality and thoughtfulness necessary to not only make the trade-off between smaller personal studios and better shared spaces work, but a superior experience," founder and chief executive Bruno Haid said.

"A lot of it feels indeed rushed and optimised for the developer's interest, and not the tenant's. So we can relate to the criticism current schemes are facing."

Roam's properties differs to the projects that have been proposed in Ireland in that it offers business travellers access to luxury co-living spaces with maid service across all of its locations for $1,800 (€1,610) a month. This means that clients can travel across the world to its five locations while only having to pay a single fee.

Customers are also offered "flexible leases", which give customers a full-furnished bedroom with a desk and an en-suite bathroom.

Each facility also has co-working spaces that include a media centre, pool, shared kitchens and event space.

"Our legislative preference is to build upon already existing rules for hotels and serviced apartments and open them for long-term stays, if people prefer this topology of buildings," Haid said.

"But just removing established standards from the bottom of the housing market to address growing inequality is not necessarily a good policy to address more systemic issues."

Roam is not the only company exploring shared living in Ireland. Richard Barrett's Bartra Capital intends to make it a main part of its residential supply stream and has lodged applications for both Castleknock and Dún Laoghaire in Dublin.

The group also intends to reapply for another such development in Rathmines in the capital.

The Sunday Independent reported in January that UK co-living company The Collective purchased its first site in Dublin as part of its plans to expand into Europe and the US.

Weekly rates in the UK start at £290 (€329) and rise as high as £325, depending on the length of the lease required.

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