Friday 23 August 2019

‘House-hunting rejection is even worse than online dating’

Leaving my Ringsend home
Leaving my Ringsend home

Patricia Murphy

Last summer I found myself closing the door on the lovely Ringsend apartment I had shared for the past two years.

 In 2013, my housemates and I had easily found the two-bedroom apartment in Dublin 4 after a brief search and relished the reasonable €1000 rent. For €500 each, we were living it up in Googletown, just a kilometre from Sandymount Strand and so close to town that every time we ever got a taxi it felt a bit criminal.

However, as all good things do, our two years of rental bliss unfortunately came to an end. My housemate was bound for New Zealand and this paired with a crippling rent increase influenced my decision to begin trawling through on the hunt for somewhere decent to move my life into. After a two year departure from the task of finding a room, I quickly realised that everything had changed for the worst and I wasn’t prepared for the arduous seven week hunt that was to ensue.

Naively, I had already given notice on my apartment expecting to scoop up somewhere nice within a fortnight, but moving day came and I found myself packing my things into my friend’s car with nowhere of my own to go. I was very fortunate that I had had somewhere to stay in the interim, otherwise I would have been in a very difficult situation indeed but that is the position many people in Dublin are currently in.

The view from my bedroom window in 'Googletown'
The view from my bedroom window in 'Googletown'
My old street

After an unsuccessful three weeks of house-hunting, and an hour long chat on the couch with a Dromcondra pair who later told me “You’re not the right fit for the home” I felt like I had better get on board with what perspective housemates were looking for in order to secure a room and I was determined to get one by any means possible.

One thing I noticed returning to the rental market was that landlords and potential housemates are a lot more cautious about who they allow to move in than in the past, which is such a chore for those looking for an apartment. For many of the rooms, I sometimes needed up to three references, which meant asking my boss for a bundle of gleaming recommendations (on company headed paper as requested by one viewing), as well as references from my Ringsend landlord. The way things are going at the moment, you might need to get Garda Clearance to rent a room in two more years, and I certainly thought some of the people I met were a step away from asking me for a photocopy of my parents’ marriage certificate.

Read more: 'One house I viewed was on different websites, under different landlords, with different photos - but the same address'

On my hunt I found that so many people had such unfair expectations of a housemate. At the dozen or so viewings and interviews I went to over those weeks, I felt as though I wouldn’t get the room if I didn’t go home every weekend or even if I happened to have a boyfriend. I felt like people judged me the second I said I was a journalist as well and I had to stress that, actually it was a permanent contract and I did have regular normal hours, and actually I mostly just spend my days searching for stock images of babies instead of infiltrating crime rings.

The paranoia began to set in after a few weeks. When I hadn’t heard back from a viewing for a few days, I began to worry in the same way I do if I didn’t get a text back from someone I really liked after a date. ‘It went so well’ I’d tell my friends the next day but as the hours ticked by I’d lose hope. I’d worry that it was something I said that gave cause for the rejection and I distinctly remember rushing home after work to wash my hair and reapply make-up to make a good first impression at a viewing, which looking back was pathetic.

By the sixth week I had practically come to terms with the fact that I must just be a giant weirdo.

Read more: Broken lifts, stinking sewage and incessant fire alarms - renter tells of shockingly poor conditions in Dublin complexes

The seventh week ticked by and although my friend’s generosity would never wear thin, I was becoming so restless with all my things still in boxes and my clothes still in a suitcase. I had a viewing in Dublin 1 and I decided a change of strategy was necessary and that was to just lie through my teeth about everything.

I turned up at the viewing in my runners, with my racket in hand and blatantly gave the impression that I was obsessed with playing squash every evening and probably wouldn’t be around (lie). I told them I was from Kerry, and I liked to go home as many weekends as I could (maybe one weekend in every five). I squeezed in that I work long hours so we’d probably only pass like ships in the night. (lie). I told them I liked to have a few social drinks at the weekend but I wouldn’t be mad into Coppers at all (complete and utter fib). I admitted that had a grand in my pocket, which I had been walking around Dublin with in my bag for over a month and I could pay upfront, right now to secure a room.

And that’s how I finally found somewhere to live in Dublin.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News