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‘Chances are I won’t come back to Ireland’ - man forced to emigrate to Portugal as housing crisis hits older renters


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People who are renting their homes as they near retirement have told of the struggle to secure accommodation as availability dwindles and they are forced into poverty.

John, who is in his late fifties, is renting a room in Dublin and said he will be forced to emigrate as he cannot secure long-term, affordable accommodation anywhere in Ireland.

“I am a half homeowner in that I own half a house with my ex-wife, so I'm renting at the moment, and I rent one room for €600 a month in north county Dublin,” he told the RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline.

“I have decided form this September on economic grounds, I will have to emigrate to Portugal. Because first of all, there is nowhere to rent. I’m not just talking about me not wanting to leave my county, I’ll live anywhere in Ireland, and I cannot find anywhere in Ireland.

“So, I can go to Portugal, I can get a two-bedroom house in a town, a short walk to the beach for half the price I’m paying here for one room.”

John, who is divorced, said he never thought he would find himself in this position at this stage of his life and it has “destroyed” his mental health. He said in the past, he has been at risk of becoming homeless.

He expressed his anger at the situation and upset at the prospect of leaving his two adult children.

The difficulties renters face in either buying a home or finding somewhere affordable to rent have been revealed by Independent.ie.

“As part of the divorce I had to exit the house, I was grand with that. It’s been tough over the last two and a half years, I’ve moved four times because, landlords, you might have a contract with them, doesn’t matter. They’re selling the house, you’re gone, no excuses,” he said.

“If you actually get talking to a landlord and I give them my age and they say, ‘oh will you be in the house all day?’ and I’d say yeah, and they’d say, ‘sorry we’re looking for a professional couple or a professional person.’ I presume they don’t want people using the electricity, I don’t know what it is.

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“And then half the accommodation won’t accept males, it says females preferred.

“It destroys your mental health because you literally don’t know from week to week where you’re going to live. This last place I got into here, I was within a week of going onto the streets, simple as that. The council won’t help me because I own half a house, so I’m not entitled to any help, any rent supplements, nothing.

“I am absolutely fuming, I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m leaving my two children here, one at 25, one at 20. I am so upset about this but I’ve no choice, this Government has screwed me over and the Government the last 15 years, they’ve screwed this whole country.

“Chances are I won’t come back to Ireland. I paid all my taxes, I worked my fingers to the bone to provide a house for my children, get them through university and all that and I get a kick in the teeth at the very end.”

Elizabeth, who is in her late 60s, and her husband, who is in his early 70s, have been renting for 28 years. The couple have to leave their rental accommodation by the end of the month and cannot find anywhere to go.

“We’re in this house 13 years and the landlord wants it back, I’m in north county Dublin, I’ve been onto councils, TDs, but we’re over the limit to get any help whatsoever. We have all our own furniture, we’re willing to take anything once we can move in because we have to be out at the end of this month,” she told presenter Katie Hannon.

“And our family can’t put us up because they haven’t got the room. Because we’re over the [financial means] limit, they don’t want to know it’s as simple as that. The fact that there is nothing out there. The prices of houses here have just gone through the roof.”

The personal accounts of older renters struggling to find accommodation come as a study from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) shows that one in five people aged between 45 and 54 who are now renting have little prospect of ever owning a home.

The research reveals how this age cohort are at the front of a rising wave of a generation facing a significantly poorer retirement than current pensioners.

It also warns that the State is unlikely to be able to fully carry the cost burden of large numbers of people renting in their retirement.

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