We renters are big news at the moment. With the eviction ban close to ending, there is horror story after horror story emerging, from older people who have lived in their homes for decades being turfed out, to young families, couples and single people suddenly finding themselves with nowhere to go.
This piece comes from a personal place, and is not intended to represent anyone but myself, and my own experiences. Since moving out of the family home to go to college (and briefly moving back in on a number of occasions!), I’ve been a renter. I’ve lived in flats and houses of varying states of upkeep, have shared with friends and partners and the odd, requisite, weirdo.
I am currently living with my husband in a nice house in Galway city, having moved there this time last year after being given notice on our old place after a number of years. Little did we know then how lucky we were to have been given notice then, and not now. If we thought that pickings were slim then we had no idea how terrible it is now, to find a decent place at a decent price. Our landlord is fair, honest and respectful, and for that we are extremely grateful.
I consider myself very, very lucky. Looking at Daft.ie literally sends shivers up my spine, at the lack of properties available, and the eye watering rent being demanded for what is available. It is no exaggeration to say that the rates being proposed for the majority of apartments in particular are criminal; there is a listing on the website right now asking for €2,000 for a poky one bed, one bath apartment on a busy, noisy city centre road. Who, exactly, are they advertising to?
I have never had a problem with being a renter, until now. I’ve always had the expectation that I would some day own a home at the back of my mind, but as a prize procrastinator, who tends to hit expected life milestones years after my peers, I just thought a house would fall into my lap when I was ready for it. Naive, innocent, stupid, privileged, entitled? Check, check, check, check and check! This housing crisis has been a wake-up call and no mistake.
Even though we are relatively secure where we are at this moment in time, I have a constant, lowish level anxiety that we will have to pack up and leave this home that we’ve made, and begin the search again. This time last year we were lucky; what if we’re not so fortunate next time round? We are in an advantageous position of being able to rely on family members but that is a road we would really only go down as a last resort. Saying that, last resorts are basically where every renter facing eviction are at right now.
If you haven’t already, check out Sally Rooney’s brilliant article about the issue in The Irish Times; she articulates the situation far better than I could, or have seen anyone else do for that matter. This one by Social Democrats leader Holly Cairns shows that action can be taken immediately, if the Government could be bothered to consider the very sensible options.
How about you? Have you been, or are you affected by this housing crisis? Let’s start the chat.
- Aoife B. Burke