herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

'When I finally got a house I felt like I'd won the Hunger Games'

case study

Ciara Treacy
Ciara Treacy

Pictures of rusted toilet seats, overflowing bins and fluorescent walls formed part of my daily routine when I was looking for a place in Dublin.

Years of education had prepared me for the working world but at no point did they give me advice for conquering the private rented sector.

You're not in Kansas anymore, you're in Kilmainham, I thought as I frantically scrolled through advertisements on Daft. For 22 years I avoided the dreaded house hunt. Having now been through it, it's not as bad as people say - it's worse.

With almost 200,000 properties listed on Daft (at time of print), there is an overwhelming amount of listings to sift through. Even when the right places pop up, it's never as straightforward a process as arranging a viewing and picking up the keys on the way out.

A stark absence of regulation means that landlords can set their own criteria in terms of not only price but also the type of person they want on their property.

Criteria

These can range from the unfair - overcharging based on the 'good name' of a location, prohibiting students or foreigners from renting, or refusing to take rent allowance - to the unusual.

This can include ticking the criteria of cat or dog-friendly (even for some which, oddly, don't have a pet in the house) and describing yourself in 15 words or less.

Granted, many of these are set out by tenants who are letting out rooms on behalf of the landlord, but even that shows the outcome of viewing can be pot luck.

The whole process understandably leaves people exhausted, disheartened and close to considering locating to elsewhere in the country.

Some say finding a place to work is hard to get, but at least we read of new jobs being announced each week - when does this happen for housing? Fortunately, my own search ended successfully. After beating off 50 others who came to view the house, I felt like I had won the Hunger Games.

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