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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 20 March, 2018

'I'd love to help a struggling tenant, but if I did I'd be homeless myself'

“Landlords answer to banks. We’re still paying the price for austerity.”

Image: Shutterstock/Brian A Jackson

DAMIEN* OWNS SIX properties in Dublin – he rents five and lives in the other with his wife and children.

He, like many landlords, is in debt. He owes about €1.5 million. His mortgages are spread out over four different banks.

Damien says he is paying one lender interest of 5.75% on his family home.

He thinks there is a “misconception” that landlords are making a lot of money, when in reality he and others “try to keep our heads down” as they struggle to make ends meet.

Damien owns properties in a number of areas in Dublin.

One of these is located in Ranelagh. He says he was charging €2,500 a month for a four-bedroom house, but was told by his bank to increase this to market rent: €3,500.

A receiver has been appointed to oversee his loans, and he says he no longer has an option on what to charge his tenants. He says that in many instances Nama and vulture funds are controlling rents in Ireland, not landlords.

Landlords answer to banks. We’re still paying the price for austerity. I wouldn’t have it in my heart to charge €3,500 for a four-bed house.

Damien says if he doesn’t make his loan repayments he will lose his family home.

“I don’t see any of (the rent),” he tells us, adding that he has to pay property tax, income tax and USC. He has no pension.

One of many

Damien notes that many Irish banks charge a multiple of the European Central Bank’s 0.5% interest rate.

Multiply my case by virtually all landlords. We have to pay the interest rates that our banks charge us.

Stephen Faughnan, chair of the Irish Property Owners’ Association (IPOA), recently told that 70% of landlords have loans and 71% have “insufficient income from their rental property to pay their mortgage and their tax liability”.

Damien says the recent two-year rent freeze brought in by the government has “made matters worse for both landlords and tenants”.

shutterstock_259879379 Source: Shutterstock/MyImages - Micha

Under Central Bank rules introduced in January 2015, borrowers are expected to have at least a 20% deposit saved for the value of the house they hope to buy. First-time buyers need 10% of the first €220,000, and 20% thereafter.

As a result, Damien says many people are “stuck renting for longer” and landlords are unable to sell properties. Indeed, a recent Co-operative Housing Ireland survey found that six in ten people in Ireland have given up on owning their own home.

Recently COPE Galway made a call-out to landlords, asking them to make a property available for rent within current Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and rent supplement levels.

“Landlords would forego the added rent available on the open market, in support of housing for those experiencing homelessness in our local community,” Jacquie Horan, CEO of COPE Galway, noted.

Damien says many landlords would like to help, but it’s just not feasible.

“I’d love to help out a homeless person, only if I did I’d be homeless myself.”

*Damien’s name has been changed to protect his identity

Read: ‘I hope it works’: Two-year rent freeze to tackle housing crisis

Opinion: Nama is more likely to fatten the vulture funds than provide affordable housing for young couples

Read: Will landlords forego extra rent to help families on the brink of homelessness?

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