On the Rampage: Ireland And Landlords, The Eternal Struggle
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.