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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 22 January, 2020

'Letting agencies said that a landlord will never choose me in the rental lottery because I have kids'

Irish landlords are using the rental crisis to discriminate against families with children.


I’VE BEEN LIVING and working in Ireland for more than eight years now. I have a small family: my partner and I, plus our two small children.

We are all aware of the rental crisis going on in Dublin, but right now my family is caught in the middle of it. Our landlord has decided to sell the property that we’re currently renting and so we’re now searching for a new home. We’ve been living in the South Dublin area for the past six years.

Starting the house hunt

A few weeks ago our landlady contacted us to tell us that she is about to sell the apartment and won’t be renewing our lease. That’s completely her right and this isn’t the issue I’m trying to highlight here.

When I started the flat hunt, I soon found that rent prices have increased dramatically since I was looking the last time. Now the average rent in this area of Dublin is €1,800 a month for a two-bed apartment.

I sent off several applications by email and by phone. I got a text reply from one landlord saying that there is a stairwell in the property so it wouldn’t be suitable for children. That’s so ridiculous. My children would be well able to manage a stairs.

Blatant discrimination

shutterstock_402650491 Source: Shutterstock/Alexandru Marian

Another property was advertised as being 100 square metres. The advertisement also claimed that it was a very “spacious” apartment, with two “big” bedroom and a “large, spacious” kitchen. I phoned up to enquire about it.

The woman who answered said that the apartment would be suitable for a family. However she wasn’t the owner and said that she would call me back in a bit to let me know if I was successful.

A few hours later she emailed me to say that the landlady wasn’t happy about renting her place to four people. She claimed that it would only be suitable for three adults. I tried to argue that my family is made up of two adults and two young children, and that basically that should equal three adults. She maintained that it would be too small for us. It was clear that she didn’t want a family with children in the house.

I’ve been told by quite a few agencies that a landlord will never choose my family in the rental lottery because we have kids. I have had the following conversation more than once:

“Ah, you have kids? Don’t even bother to apply”.
“Sorry, children are not allowed in the apartment”.
“This place is not suitable for kids”.

I have written proof of this. There’s never a stipulation against children in the listing. The refusals are always casual, like it’s just their preference.

Young families need homes too and not just outside commuter belt

I believe this problem has never highlighted enough in any article about the Irish rental crisis. We often hear about rising rents, security of tenure etcetera, but never about the obstacles that young families face when they try to find somewhere to live.

My children are enrolled in local schools. Obviously we have to stick to the area so that we can give them stability in their little lives. Or do I have to change my children’s schools because nobody wants to rent their place out to a family? How is it fair that I have to move outside the commuter belt just because I have kids?

We still haven’t found a new home. We’re hoping to find something soon and I keep on applying for every vacancy that comes up. I am getting worried about finding a place though, as there aren’t many affordable flats in my area and my lease is expiring soon.

I understand the free market and I understand the rent crisis. What I don’t understand, and what has totally shocked me, is how Irish landlords are against renting their house to a family with kids.

The author of this piece has asked to remain anonymous as he continues to hunt for a new family home.

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