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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 23 January, 2019

'There are two choices: stay in Dublin and pay the price or leave Dublin and pay the price'

The neverending race to secure affordable accommodation continues its painful existence in Dublin, writes Colm Boohig.

Colm Boohig Journalist and blogger

January 5 2018. An email arrived from our trusted landlady saying that our apartment, located in south Dublin, was being sold. Happy New Year.

My partner and I wanted desperately to stay and so we, with an overdue attempt at finally planting our feet on the property ladder, made an offer to become owners.

This bid transpired to be laughable when compared to the prospective buyer’s tangible interest. The apartment was eventually purchased in cash – our offer completely trumped. The buyer never viewed the apartment and we never stood a chance.

Wrong side of the rental market

We, like countless others living in Dublin for greater opportunity, were back on the wrong side of the rental market and at its mercy. It was bad in August 2016, the last time we needed a new home, but the start of 2018 brought with it an alarming reality.

Supply, it seemed, had never been so subservient to demand. We gulped and opened the app to start searching. Oh. Sweet. Lord.

Eighteen months of tenancy entitled us to forty-two days of urgency. We needed all of our allocated viewing time.

When demand for property outweighs supply you are never alone but those you confide in at times like these are often your foes. Young professionals are always searching for that most elusive combination in Ireland’s capital: affordable accommodation.

Stories of frustration

Our journey for new shelter took us throughout Dublin city and its surrounding suburbs. The search garnered sympathy from the settled but a gratefulness on their part that they were no longer involved.

Along the way we heard countless stories of similar frustration, sometimes anguish, from the same demographic of renters, many of whom simply want to be buyers.

We are no different. In fact, so many 20 and 30-somethings in Ireland share this overcrowded and unstable boat.

Regardless, while we were (and are) pre-approved for a mortgage from two banks, a six-week eviction notice scuppers many purchasing plans. If your landlord is selling, your future house plans are going.

‘It’s gone’

Forty two days go by fast when you’re looking over your shoulder.

And so, was accessed and the default email to prospective landlords assembled and sent in large quantities. Me, a journalist from Cork. She, an optometrist from Waterford. We were clean, respectful, quiet and punctual with rent. All the good stuff and it was all true. As true as the common reply we regularly received. “No, it’s gone.”

At least these blunt naysayers responded. Rejection is tough but radio silence is bewildering. We received plenty of the latter. We also experienced a new trend since August 2016 – increasingly unsociable viewing times.

It seemed that the previously unheralded 10/11am weekday slot was now being bandied about with great frequency.

Ask anyone in this situation and they will tell you that receiving an email from a would-be landlord about a property is exciting, initially. But that flame is quickly extinguished when such frustrating time slots are on offer without compromise. We subsequently missed several openings.

Luck of the draw

In total, we sent just shy of fifty emails, received less than a dozen responses and viewed six properties.

We secured the last place we viewed over other interested parties by the luck of the draw. With just over a week to spare, we found a place to call home in Dublin. We could breathe but we could also think; there is too much animosity between landlords and tenants. And there is not enough government assistance.

You can leave Dublin, of course. Nobody is forcing you to stay. But, for so many young professionals in Ireland, there are two choices: stay in Dublin and pay the price or leave Dublin and pay the price.

We chose the former and we’re one of the lucky ones. Why? Take five minutes to stroll through the city and see so many souls lying on the streets, unsheltered.

Unemployment may be at a decade low but it seems homelessness has never been more prevalent. In between, the neverending race to secure affordable accommodation continues its painful existence in the capital.

Colm Boohig is a journalist and blogger who works for Storyful.

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Colm Boohig  / Journalist and blogger

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