It’s not just the homeowners – Renters are in real distress too!

Wexford Rentals & Property Management has read in the Irish Independent on Sept 19th that whilst much has been written in recent years about mortgage distress, but those in rental distress – namely, an inability to find a landlord willing to take your money – have largely been forgotten.

Collete Brown has written that firstly, a health warning: if you are struggling with a negative equity albatross around your neck, it may be best to avoid this article. The complaints will seem trivial and it will probably enrage you. However, if, like me, you don’t own any property but are instead at the mercy of the vagaries of Dublin’s insane rental market, then read on. And weep. The capital’s property prices may finally be on the way back up, but if the competition in the rental market is anything to go by, then there’s still a lot of people who are either unwilling, or unable, to purchase property. And they’re all looking for somewhere to rent right now.   Well, that’s what it felt like. I started my search a month ago, with a few basic requirements: parking, walking distance to Dublin city centre, a bed, that kind of thing. I quickly learned my expectations had been set too high. Also, that the words “stunning” and “spacious” have clearly lost all meaning. There are many peculiarities about the postings on Daft, but surely the most bizarre are those adverts that claim a property “must be viewed” yet fail to post any pictures. Clearly hoping to keep prospective tenants in a state of nervous excitement, wily landlords instead post panoramic pictures of random parks, motion shots of the Luas and, if you’re really lucky, a still of a traffic-jam on a nearby road pulled from Google Maps.   Then, there are the hyperbolic ads that promise so much but deliver so little. Boasting things like “top-of- the-range kitchen” and “designer bathroom” the sense of anti-climax, when images of a Dickensian squat flicker on to the screen, is crushing. Elsewhere, there is the mystery of phantom ads that disappear from Daft the instant they have been posted. Where do they go?   I set up a Google alert, so that properties that matched my specifications would be emailed to me as soon as they were listed, but often, I found the flat was gone in the time it took to open an email. Then, there is the waking hell of the “open viewing”. These are words that should send a chill down the spine of every prospective renter. Because everyone will turn up. And I mean everyone. One viewing, of a shoebox flat off Camden Street, descended into farce as scores of people crushed into the living room, craning their necks to look around. One French girl accosted the landlord in a corner, crying, “My boyfriend and I have been looking for a month. We are both working but can’t find anywhere. Why? Why?”  Resisting the urge to crowdsurf over the heads of the others and cry on her shoulder, I instead sent the landlord a text stating I had a work reference, landlord reference and deposit ready to go. I didn’t get a response. You see, your references are largely useless, because everyone else has the same ones. Which is why estate agents are now looking for bank statements, DNA samples and your junior cert results before your application will even be considered. Things have now gotten so bad, that I turned up a viewing last week only to be told that another person had offered to pay an additional €100 per month, over the listed rent.

 If the search for working people is nightmarish, then the search for students and those in receipt of Rent Allowance must be unbearable, because every single listing I saw was emblazoned with the same sign: “no students and no Rent Allowance”, the modern day equivalent of “No blacks and no Irish”. With one in three people in Dublin now renting, landlords can afford to turn up their noses at students and Government cheques.   According to Ronan Lyons, of, the rental market in Dublin is now the busiest it has been since 2007, with the number of properties available in the first six months of the year down to 20,000 from 30,000 for the same period last year. Over the past year, approximately 3,700 units were rented out in Dublin each month. However, in August, traditionally the busiest period, just 2,400 available properties were listed. Rents are also skyrocketing, with increases of 7.5pc across Dublin in the past 12 months, but even higher spikes in certain areas.   The good news is that perseverance will, eventually, win the day and I finally managed to secure a flat in my preferred area. What have I learned? Print out your references and bring them with you to viewings, pounce on anything you like as soon as you see it and, if you’re really desperate, say a prayer to St Jude.