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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019
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Opinion: 'Mortgage rules are massively unfair on people who can't rely on their parents for a sizeable deposit'

Since the banks no longer require you to prove that you saved the deposit – having one says nothing about your ability to repay the loan, writes Fiona Cassim.

Fiona Cassim

I’VE JUST MOVED into my 26th home.

I am once again surrounded by chaos, with boxes and bags dumped unceremoniously on the sitting room floor of our new rental.

I cried leaving the last place, all our familiar things are gone, the empty echoing rooms – the dismantling of a life.

It was home and a home is all we really want, just four walls and a small amount of security.

We know how lucky we are to have found somewhere to go in this unforgiving rental market. We know there are many more behind us who won’t be so lucky.

As bitter chance would have it, this new apartment is also up for sale, so we have been given an 8-month lease. It is a lifeline for now, but many of the boxes will remain unpacked because leaving is inevitable.

This will not be home, there will be no familiar things, no pictures hung.

Renting in Ireland has become a vicious and ruthless game, much like the Lotto – it could be you. But it probably won’t be.

I grew up as a child renting too and moving from place to place, it has been the story of my life and I don’t want to be in this trap for the rest of my days. 

I just want to settle down somewhere with my husband, plant roots, maybe start a family.

But since Focus Ireland estimates that one in every three people in emergency accommodation is a child, having a family is definitely on the back burner until we can secure a stable, permanent home. 

We want to buy a home, but in the Ireland of 2019, homeownership is becoming more and more difficult to achieve. 

Proven track record

Both my husband and I are in permanent full-time employment. We earn a little more than €400 each per week, so we are in a bracket of people who can meet the rent and bills each month but after the necessities are paid for, there is not much left over.

Any small savings we manage to scrape together are inevitably eaten up by unforeseen events. Car maintenance or a doctor’s visit usually see those savings zapped. 

We pay €800 a month in rent and have never missed a payment. We have a proven track record and our bank statements show that we pay that rent on time.

If we could secure a mortgage, repayments of €800 a month would allow us to buy a home at €288,000 (over 30 years, which is the average mortgage length).

Since we live in a small village that would be more than enough. But we will never be approved for a mortgage because we don’t have the ability to save the €28,000 for a deposit.

We have researched every government scheme available and there is no help for people in our situation. We are trapped in a vicious circle – an ever revolving door.

We cannot move much further away, my husband already drives an hour and a half to work in the morning and the same again each evening. 

Our parents are elderly and following the recent passing of my father in law, we would like to stay within commuting distance of them. 

100% mortgages

I was a student back when 100% mortgages were all the rage during the “boom”. 

I’ll never forget the day that my friend, who was a second-year student in UCD got a letter from her bank offering her a 100% mortgage. She was living at home, not working and hadn’t applied for any kind of mortgage.  

Luckily for her, she declined the bank’s offer – the scheme was scrapped soon after because of its role in collapsing the country’s economy.

Despite this, I think that 100% mortgages should be re-introduced.

Already I can hear the cacophony of outrage – but bear with me.

Obviously, I do not think that 100% mortgages should be handed out to students but nor do I think ordinary citizens should continue to suffer for the reckless lending of the banks.   

Those mortgages failed because they were given out very irresponsibly.

Sometimes I go on Daft.ie and look at the houses for sale in the area we live in. When I do that the mortgage repayments show up below the property and they are usually less than what we are paying in rent. 

I believe that people with a proven track record of paying rent at a higher rate than the mortgage payment, for a period of three years, should be able to get a 100% mortgage.

It is very frustrating to know that others with the same income, whose parents can afford to gift them a deposit, will be approved – often without showing the same consistent ability to make payments. 

Since the banks no longer require you to prove that you saved the deposit yourself – these gifts demonstrate nothing whatsoever about the person’s ability to save money or to repay the loan.

My mum is on state pension of €208 per week and I think the bank’s rules amount to nothing less than discrimination on grounds of social class. 

Like us, there are so many other people throughout Ireland who are victims of this unfair system. 

It feels like our government are rebuilding Ireland for a select few but not for the vast majority. 

Fiona Cassim is married and living in Wicklow, she works as an administrator and writes part-time. 

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Fiona Cassim

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