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On the Rampage: Ireland And Landlords, The Eternal Struggle

Posted September 26, 2012 by Sinéad Keogh in Ramp Specials
Harry Potter - under the stairs

Perhaps one of the most simultaneously depressing and wantsies-inspiring parts of the internet are accommodation websites. At one end they are filled with the decadent palaces we all aspire to call home. At the other… decrepit sheds.

Not that terribly long ago, Irish rental market advertising was confined to small classifieds in the likes of the Evening Hedild. But now we have entire online operations dedicated to finding accommodation. They’ve opened up the field with a whole host of easy options like narrowing search terms, email alerts, and teaming with up with other house hunters who may or may not be absolutely batshit crazy. But most importantly, now there are photographs. And what residential horrors could be conveyed in a few hundred characters in a newspaper could never compare to today’s full colour pictures of the grim cradles of filth where renters are expected to lay their heads. When once we could only imagine the cesspits of squalor that lay behind the city’s thousands of front doors, now they are presented for us all to see.

It’s a letter’s market in dear old Dublin, and if it has at least three walls and a roof, someone will take your money for it and allow you to call it home. Put simply – there is a festering pile of disgusting and dilapidated ‘dwellings’ to be had in this town and by logical extension, a lot of landlords around the place who have what’s commonly known as ‘a neck’.

Reader – would you not be ashamed of yourself in their position? It gets our goat, grinds our gears and raises our heckles to know that because space is at a premium, people shell out hard earned cash for sub-standard homes. Sure we get that there’s no obligation on an owner to create an Aladdin’s cave of treats for you, nor do we think that the world owes you your very own Taj Mahal built to honour your unique awesomeness and general kick-ass countenance. But what the living fuck ever happened to just being a decent person? Why is it possible to visit the complete other end of the scale and have horrid little windowless airing cupboards offered up as your ‘bijou’ city base?

An average accommodation search will throw up a number of common and depressing finds. Bedsits have undergone a glamorous rebranding and are now marketed only as ‘studios’. Get ta fuck. Sorry, but if the microwave is beside the jaysus bed, it’s a bedsit. Not to mention the world of ‘shared bathrooms’ . What is this fuckery? Who has ever wanted to be naked in the same space where grotty strangers are also regularly naked? Worse, who wants to agree a cleaning rota with the hairy grimebot from down the hall? The man whose spit-shine efforts include literal grease off his actual elbows? Our collective stomach heaves just to think of it. Add on top of that flats that aren’t self-contained (so, a few rooms then?!), beds that look like someone died in them, peeling paint, and glorified bunk beds masquerading as ‘mezzanine levels’ and we find ourselves facing a very depressing market indeed.

Of course supply and demand will always impact on price and quality, but when are minimum standards brought to bear? The situation is not only galling because such hovels exist, but in the very fact that anyone would include pictures of them beside ads calling for four, five and even six hundred quid per calendar month for the sheer unequivocal joy of moving all your stuff in and watching with delight while it multiplies into more stuff by some sort of magic. By which of course we mean when your soft furnishings sprout mold because you live, mole-like, in some sub-basement with a tropical climate and poor ventilation.

The first insult is the fact that such shit excuses for homes exist, the second is that they’re snapped up within days because the ads disappear quickly, replaced by ever more depressing fare, and the third is that our only acknowledgment of such baseline throwing up of two fingers from landlords is to link the pictures on sites and messageboards, point out what godforsaken places they are, and then carry on with the day.

Yes there are lovely homes to be had on the rental market. But doesn’t the very fact that owners get away with renting out absolute tenements annoy you just a little bit? Don’t you want to meet them with a ‘You should be horrified by your own dickheaded greed’ stare and a picture of the wrecking ball that’s the only suitable match for their dilapidated property portfolio? Yes, people have to live somewhere. Yes, there’s competition for the decent options. Yes, you can’t have it every way if you can’t afford much. Tell you what though, there’s just a basic level of giving a fuck that’s a necessary and missing ingredient in the transaction between renter and owner. Just because you can find someone who’ll pay you for the pleasure doesn’t mean you should presume that accepting tenants into a squalid hole is in any way alright.

Sensitive, us? Yes we have been looking for a new gaff lately. And no, we’re not Harry Potter so we’re not sleeping under the fucking stairs.

About the Author

Sinéad Keogh

Sinéad is a striking girl. Not attractive like, just prone to lashing out.

  • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

    Thankfully, that kind of carry-on is less prevalent outside Dublin, simply because there’s more space and less demand. Much of the rentals in towns, for example, are in the large estates that popped up everywhere in the nineties, so your standard 3 or 4 bed semi dominates.

    But even then, in many cases Irish landlords either have no idea or no regard for their duties. Getting repairs done, getting deposits back… the usual carry-on is just as miserly as it is in the capital. Crap furniture, damp patches, worn carpets, cookers that Noah used on the arc…

    And student accommodation anywhere is at particular risk of being grim; packing ten kids into a three-bed house that’s magically become a six-bed tenement is not unheard of. One lass I was at college with lived in a house that had been divided into such unnaturally tiny rooms, her bed pretty much took up her whole floor.

    A good landlord is hard to find, as Fergal Sharkey might have said. They’re to be cherished. We’ve had one fantastic lady who couldn’t do enough to make sure her tenants were comfortable (which was great, because this was in the Boom when she was charging €1k a month for a 3-bed). But then we’ve had others who were utterly useless, including one charmer who took six whole months to get a plumber out to fix the heating, which he swore blind was serviced every year, implying we must have broken it. Plumber’s take on it? That the thing hadn’t been looked at for 10 years and was a carbon monoxide hazard. Lovely.

    • S

      I’m in my fourth Dublin rental in the last 8 years and I’ve had one sound landlady. The other three would make you want to garotte them with their own loose wiring.

  • http://twitter.com/powertara Tara Power

    “if the microwave is beside the jaysus bed, it’s a bedsit” HILARIOUS. Love the first sentence too!

    This is all so sadly true, I’m constantly on the hunt for a small, decently priced house and it’s just impossible to find. Unless you want to move to Tallaght, those houses are a dime a dozen on Daft.

    • Sinéad

      You tend to see them around Dublin 8 as well around Kilmainham and Inchicore. I’d probably go for somewhere around there if it wasn’t a bit of a trek into town. 25 minute walk where I am is good.

  • http://www.emesq.com/ Colm

    I’ve seen people write “Hedild” before but it seems wrong. Like old-school plum-in-mouth toff-ese. Surely “Herdld” is more accurate.

    More relevantly, but still kind of tangential: the funniest photos on Daft aren’t the manky ones, they’re the ones where the ONLY picture of a place is of the corner of a bathroom. Or a series of zooms on a double bed. Or the front door. Or some oul fella taking a snap of himself in the bathroom mirror.

    • Sinéad

      My favourite photo that I’ve ever seen on Daft was a living room that contained at least 9 lamps. There could have been more out of shot.

  • http://twitter.com/nuckpang Stephen R.

    ” But what the living fuck ever happened to just being a decent person?”
    I think this sentence should be plastered across billboards all over the city as part of a “Seriously, come on now…” campaign.

    • Sinéad

      As David O’Doherty says “Hey everyone! Remember! Don’t be an arsehole!”

  • Jenny Foxe

    Even apparently ‘nice’ landlords are money hungry b******s. Our old place was advertised on Daft by an agent and it showed 9 photos of a different house. A house on the same street, yes, but not our house, it had a different colour front door for a start. So how many others are up there with agents using ‘stock’ photos?

    It wasn’t a bad place anyway. We lived there for two years. Always paid our rent on time. If things went wrong we usually just fixed them ourselves, well OH did. We left the place absolutely spotless over two months ago apart from some alien goo in the kids’ bedroom carpet that withstood every chemical known to man. ‘Thanks for leaving the place in good order I’ll get you your deposit back right away.’ says he. Has he? No, he has not. I’ve complained to PRTB and ‘they currently have a backlog and will get to it in due course’ That tells you something right there if the only place you can go to sort out a dispute is backlogged with complaints. The moral of the story is NEVER pay the last months rent.

    • S

      I’ve been waiting on my landlord to fix a broken light fixture in the kitchen for a month and the agent straight out told me not to pay my last month’s rent when I leave. There are some awful jokers about.

    • http://www.redlemonade.blogspot.com/ Kitty Catastrophe

      I wholeheartedly agree with this moral, if you think there’s any chance that your landlord is a scumbag dickhead. The PRTB are absolutely useless. A few of my mates and I went to the PRTB for a mediation between us and our former landlord, he never showed up, they ruled in our favour that he had to give us back our deposit plus an extra €100 each for damages. He appealed the decision, it went to a tribunal, he made up some stories about us that were disproved by evidence we had, the only evidence he had of anything were photos that WE had submitted as part of our claim. The PRTB ruled that he only had to pay HALF of our deposit back to us. Did we get it? Did we fuck. We applied for an enforcement order a few months later from the PRTB. Guess what happened? NOTHING. And this was around two years ago. Shower of useless bastards.

  • http://www.krank.ie/ Neil

    Letting agencies make me very, very angry. My experiences with them have been dire.
    Going direct to the landlord has been the least painful way for me.

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