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'We can't follow social distancing rules', say overcrowded renters

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Diogo Barros is sharing

Diogo Barros is sharing

Diogo Barros is sharing

Tenants living in overcrowded accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic believe the housing crisis is putting their health seriously at risk.

Some are living in three-bedroom houses with up to 15 people and will be unable to self-isolate should someone in the property contract Covid-19.

In Dublin city centre, a double bed property is being rented to two strangers for €560 each, bringing in a total of €1,120 a month.

The two-bed apartment, which was advertised on Rent.ie, is being shared by five people. In the other room, a set of bunk-beds and a single bed are crammed in.

A tenant living there, who wishes to remain anonymous, said it is "impossible to follow HSE guidelines".

"If one person gets it [coronavirus], it means we will all have to get it as there is nowhere else for us to go and we are all living in such a small space," they said.

Young students and migrant workers are particularly affected as many turn to overcrowded housing out of desperation.

Diogo Barros (26), originally from Rio de Janeiro, praised the Government for its handling of the coronavirus, but says this needs to be a wake-up call about the health and safety issues in overcrowded accommodation.

"It's been really challenging as the majority of us foreign students are living in small spaces with a huge amount of people," he said.

"So when you hear on the news about social distancing, it is really hard for us to do.

"When I first came here, I was sharing a tiny apartment with six people. There was one bedroom and a bunk-bed in the living room."

Bruna (27), from Brazil, is sharing a three-bedroom house with seven people.

Some of her housemates are working long hours in supermarkets, while others were temporarily laid off from their jobs.

Silent

"We are doing things like washing our hands and everything but we still don't feel safe," she said.

The Residential Tenancies Board said everyone living in rental housing "must follow the Government and HSE guidelines on social distancing".

When asked about the issue of overcrowded accommodation, the spokesperson said: "While there are minimum standards covering some aspects of private rented accommodation, it is important to note the regulations are silent on how many people should occupy accommodation provided."