Friday 20 September 2019

'My only option to keep a roof over my son's head was to buy a house with my ex'

Luciano Forte (Picture: Frank Mc Grath)
Luciano Forte (Picture: Frank Mc Grath)

Luciano Forte

Just 10 months ago my ex-partner, myself and our 10-year old-son found ourselves issued with a four-month eviction notice on our Dublin rented property due to our landlord’s decision to sell.

Immediately the hunt began for suitable rental accommodation in our area. The lack of supply coupled with the astronomical prices made me realise that we were in a very serious situation. It was clear the market has fallen into the realm of dysfunctional, dare I say unethical. So much so that the only economic option to keep a roof over my son's head was to try and buy a property with his mother, my ex-partner.

We needed a mortgage and quick but having been refused from various financial institutions our only option was to apply to Dublin City Council (DCC) which posed it’s own set of challenges and strict criteria. It can take months for an application to be accepted and even then a DCC mortgage can only be used within the DCC remit. 4 months might seem like enough time to resolve things but it’s not when the country is facing the worst housing and homelessness crisis in history.

Most people might not agree with my level of defiance in saying no to taking my son out of his school, his GAA and soccer teams, away from his friends and uprooting him from a life that his mother and I worked so hard to give him. So I set the goal of not having to leave Dublin, the city that my great-grandfather came to from Italy as a child.

Facing emergency accommodation was quickly becoming a reality but the very morning I was about to apply for it I received two letters in the post. One from the RTB issuing an order of vacant repossession within 28 days, the other was from DCC stating they had approved our mortgage application.

I was now entering the market as a first time buyer. All the while property prices rose daily and having the eviction order hanging over us I needed to work hard, fast to find somewhere remotely suitable. I was outbid by investors on a number of properties in the first few days and with virtually a non-existent supply in our price range I was down to one last property.

To say the stars aligned would be putting it lightly, the owner needed to sell quickly and my offer was accepted - we went sale agreed.

The most stressful time was between being sale agreed and getting the keys only three weeks ago. If anything went wrong we were done and with the mortgage I had from DCC we would now be unable to afford anything due to the speed of rising prices.

We are one of the few lucky cases and my experience is only a minor reflection of what’s happening to people in much worse situations. The mental and physical effects that I endured were detrimental to every part of my life. Constant anxiety, pressure and lack of sleep completely warped my perception and reactions to situations and people. In particular the people I care about most and it cost me dearly. I can’t stress enough the effects this crisis is having on people’s lives.

My goal now is to help people in similar situations and use my experience to hopefully bring about some change. This crisis should not be happening in Ireland in 2017. It’s not a law of nature that we have no control over. It’s a crisis that has been created by people and therefore can be fixed by people. No matter what any politician says never forget that we have the means to properly house, feed and medically treat every member of our society 10 times over. We can have that if we want it.

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