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Welcome to Irish renters’ theatre of the absurd


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'Beleaguered tenants face a prolonged period in a Kafkaesque nightmare'. Photo: Stock image

'Beleaguered tenants face a prolonged period in a Kafkaesque nightmare'. Photo: Stock image

'Beleaguered tenants face a prolonged period in a Kafkaesque nightmare'. Photo: Stock image

Even if you have money to spend, Ireland’s home rental market is a theatre of the absurd, a creation which could have been conjured up by an avant-garde writer. If you are pulling the devil by the financial tail, then you have entered hell on earth.

From reports in this newspaper today, you can pick your favourite bizarre scenario: a shed behind a house for €980 per month; a shared bedroom in a house for €150 per week, without cooking facilities; a one-bedroom house on offer to three people, sharing the bedroom obviously, for €650 per month.

The price ranges cited bring a new meaning to the word “expensive”. Try a flat in poet Patrick Kavanagh’s old Dublin stomping ground close to Baggot Street which can be had for €950 per week – yes, that is weekly and not monthly.

In many cases, provision for parking – where it exists at all in reality – is expensive, and provision for pets brings you towards extortion. As if to add insult to injury, anecdotal accounts of viewings suggest cleanliness and other standards leave a deal to be desired.

Welcome to renters’ Ireland 2021. It’s the country in which the Government, on this day last week, delivered a Budget with incentives for landlords – but no direct aid for beleaguered tenants who face a prolonged period in what approaches a Kafkaesque nightmare offering few hopes of early relief.

The big-picture figures seem to scream one message: get out of Dublin. Residential Tenancy Board figures tell us that a rental home in Dublin will cost an average of €1,848 per month, the rest-of-Ireland average is €1,352 per month.

But that assumes you have a way of earning the rent money in the smaller population centres. An advertisement for the €950-a-week Dublin 4 flat flaunts its proximity to headquarters of the tech giants, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google.

This is clearly the property owners’ target market and so be it. But the other side of that coin is a less affluent worker’s choice may be confined between poor living conditions, a long commute, a lower income and/or no work at all. This lacks any kind of fairness and is harmful to the long-term prospects of a happy and homogeneous society.

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Yet our housing problems are complex and sometimes would-be solutions pose other problems of their own. Today we also bring you a tale of the local authority in Limerick lining up to buy a housing estate – only to find that the housing charity, Focus Ireland, is finally set to become the purchaser for a number of complex reasons.

Limerick City and County Council could not follow through with the purchase deal because it could not meet the builder’s increased price caused by dearer materials and labour. It appears voluntary housing bodies like Focus Ireland have more flexible funding relationships with central government. The episode again speaks to the need for more flexibility in disbursing funds for house building. But it also reminds us that both councils and housing bodies are de facto, diminishing housing supply on the market for general first-time buyers. This tangled puzzle continues. 


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