| 20.9°C Dublin

Note to students - 
always check behind cooker for rat poisin

The TV show Friends has a lot answer for. The popular US comedy series would have you believe that sharing a flat with a bunch of others is a large barrel of laughs. But the truth is that sharing with people who are not related to you can be scary.

A friend of mine whose daughter is about to start college recently contacted me for advice about house hunting. Apparently there is a big shortage of accommodation around the UCD area and my friend was looking for some helpful tips.

There was a time when I let out my spare room to students. It made sense because I was single, enjoyed the company, and I was often away so it was handy to have somebody there to feed the cat and keep my home heated.

But then my son, Gary, came along so I no longer had a spare room to let out. And that's fine because at my stage of life, I wouldn't really be on for a student coming home at all hours waking myself and my child up.

A lady on my road provides digs Monday to Friday and she enjoys it, but personally I'd hate to be tied into something where I'd have to be cooking breakfast and an evening meal every day. I'd feel like I was running a bed and breakfast, so it wouldn't be me.

But I actually feel sorry for students looking for places as very few landlords in my neighbourhood want to rent to them.

Houses that used to operate as bedsits have now been turned into family homes. Families will rent for at least a year whereas students only want to rent for nine months. Families will usually look after a property as their own home. Students not so much.

As a student, it's pretty much impossible to afford a place by yourself so the best thing to do is move in with other students.


Professional people usually don't want to share with students as they need to be up early in the morning and are not inclined to party midweek.

If you're a student looking for a place, you really need to start looking now if you haven't already. 
Anyone who leaves this daunting task until the end of the month risks being homeless once college starts. And also, you'll be left with the places that nobody else wanted.

It's a long time since I went flat hunting and I'm glad those days are behind me. In my day, I remember being shown around very dubious accommodation indeed, including a bedsit where the shower was actually in the bedroom, meaning your bed would get soaked every time you washed.

I practically ran out of the place. I also remember being a shown a place with rat poison behind the cooker - I kid you not. Another place I wasn't too keen on had a huge hole in the wall.

The landlord insisted it was for ventilation and stuck a huge map of Ireland over the hole so it wouldn't look unsightly. I didn't take any of these places and instead found a flatmate who liked to hoover the place the 3am and enjoyed writing their name on eggs in case I would steal them.

Happy hunting!

> marisa mackle