Matea Leka (32) has written to the Taoiseach to highlight her personal experience of the housing crisis – from scammers to mouldy rooms.
Ms Leka, originally from Croatia, has lived in Ireland since 2019 and works full time as a product builder at Boston Scientific in Cork, while simultaneously studying part time at Technological University Dublin. She also occasionally works in another part-time job.
“I am trying to save some money for a mortgage, still slightly delusional that this can go more smoothly than renting itself,” she said.
“Seems like this is the only way because the majority of landlords are like the Government itself – they just do not care.”
Ms Leka currently shares a two-bedroom apartment with one other person for €850 a month. The full rent is €1,550.
It took her four months to find it, but she still hopes to find something cheaper.
“Nothing worked. I had just two viewings. By the time we arrived to see the first, there were already 10 people waiting in the queue,” she said.
“Finally, I found one by accident – friend of a friend – how it usually goes.”
Up until that moment, she had tried her luck with other accommodation, some of which was substandard.
“I lived in a mouldy room for a year. The third apartment I moved into was also mouldy and we were kicked out after two months because the landlord decided to sell the house. I needed to wash the walls, that is how bad it was,” she said.
“My boyfriend always had a runny nose after he slept in my room.
“I paid €180 for a dehumidifier. It did not help much.”
As a result, Ms Leka wrote to Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s constituency office. Specifically, she wanted to know what the Government was doing to tackle the housing crisis and how it planned to take care of its taxpayers.
“I’m barely keeping my head above the sea level,” she wrote to Mr Martin. “All people responsible for this should be ashamed.”
Ms Leka received a reply from Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, a response she says did not answer her queries. “I received such a generic response with an utter feeling of indifference. It seems like they don’t care, and they seem like they don’t do their job properly,” she said.
In reply, Ms Leka asked for a response specifically acknowledging her worries and comments, as she outlined different rent scams and high prices she had encountered, but she did not receive another response.
“It’s so bad I can’t express it in one email,” she said.