Monday 23 October 2017

Would-be tenants now offering more than the advertised rent

Liadan Hynes viewing rental properties in Dublin last week
Liadan Hynes viewing rental properties in Dublin last week
Liadan Hynes

Liadan Hynes

'I'm paying almost €900 to share a room with two other people. There are 10 of us in the house and only two bathrooms." Margaret Path is a student from the US. She has been living in Portobello but this week, along with two of her fellow students, she attended a viewing in Irishtown. Soaring rents and landlords' preference for tenants who are professionals - seen as more likely to fulfil a full year's lease and maintain the upkeep of a property - makes finding rental accommodation as a student challenging.

"All students are put under the same umbrella. It's not really fair," says her friend Emma Watts. "Often it's expensive, but the place is a tip. It's hard to find anywhere under €2,000 that's worth actually being in."

But it's not just students who are finding it hard to convince landlords of their reliability. Simon O'Donnell, also attending the Irishtown viewing, is a recent graduate in his 20s, looking for a home along with two fellow graduates; all three have guaranteed jobs, which they begin in the coming weeks.

"We're looking in the general area around here and Grand Canal Dock and nothing seems to be coming up. We've gone through the process, gone to the viewings, and been one of 30 or 40 people. I have been told we've missed out because we're a group of graduates and landlords prefer to go with working professionals, rather than people who are just starting their career. This house is very well priced for a three-bedroom house, from what we've seen. The minimum so far has been €2,250. That's €750 each before bills."

"With properties like this and one- and two-bedroom apartments, the inquiries are huge," says Graham Bell of Bell Property Consultants, who is showing this three-bed house on the market for €1,800 a month. "We've had this one on since Monday and we've had almost 60 requests to view it." Not every inquiry leads to a viewing - a whittling-down process eliminates applicants unsuitable for the property and those with too many numbers in their group. In this area, the majority of tenants are "professional sharers," Bell explains.

Cornelia Kostek, also viewing the property, lives nearby with her husband and eight-year-old daughter. They have to leave their current rental home of almost seven years, but are tied to the area as her daughter attends a local school and she herself works locally.

"We are looking for a month now. To be honest, I saw just one place that we would have taken, but it was too far away."

Prospective tenants need to be prepared, with all the required information to hand: financial statements and references from work and previous landlords. Many arrive at the viewing with copies of all this information, with others taking Graham's card, ready to email the information immediately. "What is happening at the viewings is that people are coming armed with all their documents, or even sending in their data in advance of the viewings," says David Bracken of Bracken Estates.

Two women in the queue say they have been asked to leave their current accommodation on what they believe is a flimsy excuse of renovation works that disguises their landlord's real intention of instigating a rent increase with a new tenant. Currently, rent increases can only happen two years after a lease is signed.

"We listed a one-bed in Ballsbridge last week at €1,350 and there were over 40 parties in that queue. There's a real lack of good-quality, affordable rental accommodation," reflects Owen Reilly of Owen Reilly Property Consultants. Out-bidding the asking rent price does occur on occasion.

"It's not widespread," says Reilly, "but look, if five people apply for the same apartment, it is one way to stand out. We have had tenants say: 'Look, I'll pay another hundred', or 'I'll pay the first three months' rent upfront'. It's all about trying to stand out."

Sunday Independent

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