The nationwide housing crisis is spiraling dangerously out of control, with prospective renters ringing the phones and begging for housing amid a mass exodus of private landlords.
On the ground, seven rental agents across the country, from Dublin to Leitrim, have painted a devastating picture of the current rental market, with a shortage of supply affecting “all ages and all walks of life”.
In one instance, a man “went to the floor of an apartment on his hands and knees, crying” and asked to be accommodated.
A longtime landlord and owner of eight properties last week asked his agent to evict all eight homes because he was selling.
Many rental agents blame a “negative perception of landlords” for small property owners exiting the market at a time when the need for rental property has never been greater.
Cork property developer Michael O’Flynn, whose company O’Flynn Group is one of the country’s largest homebuilders, has been in the housing business for more than 40 years and said there were no winners in the current situation.
“I’m in it as a developer and an investor, so I know it from all sides and I don’t enjoy being involved in something that’s no longer working,” he said.
He claimed the government does not recognize the scale or cause of the crisis and believes the problem will not be resolved until a strategy is developed to fix it, rather than “demonizing” those in the industry and landlords.
“There’s a misconception out there about landlords, and maybe it goes back to our history, but people are almost afraid to admit they have rental properties,” he said.
Dublin real estate agent David Brock of Brock Delappe says his agency is currently working on a lottery basis to select tenants.
“If we wanted to we could take everyone for a viewing, but you could have 300 people there and how is that fair? How would you differentiate?
“We had a one bedroom flat on Parnell Street in March for €1,333. We had 1,200 applicants.” He also believes that the “very negative perception” of landlords deters potential investors from the real estate market.
“They say things like, ‘Oh, I’ve read all about these people in the papers and I don’t want to be a part of it.’
“The words ‘landlord’ and ‘tenant’ are very antiquated words – in our literature we try to just call them ‘owner’ and ‘occupant,'” he said.
In Cork, AML Property Services’ Áine McLoughlin reports a ‘huge volume’ of inquiries for each letting and from all demographics.’
“It’s very depressing and it’s so hard for renters to find anything,” she said.
“For most people I meet when I’m viewing, the number one reason they move is because the landlord is selling. Taxing private landlords is nothing like tax breaks for larger international landlords – the vulture funds we all hear about.”
In Limerick, Helen McCormack warns: “The seed that is sown can bring in a harvest”. In March 2020, many students in the city abruptly gave notice of their rental housing and reclaimed their rent and deposit.
Now she sees landlords turning their backs on the student market because they feel safer with other renters.
In Waterford, Regina Mangan of Liberty Blue estate agents said they can’t even advertise their properties on Daft.ie because they couldn’t handle the demand.
Even Ireland’s smallest county, Leitrim, is far from immune to the rental crisis
“It’s beyond sad,” she said. “We had a gentleman get on his hands and knees in the apartment to cry and beg for a property.”
The day before, she met a nurse and her husband with four children who were fired because their landlord was selling.
“It’s tragic. She was upset. But we cannot give what we do not have.”
Ms. Mangan knows of a teacher who rents out her house, which she bought before her marriage, at a rental price of 800 euros and a market value of 1,400 euros. Her mortgage stayed higher than the rent she received, so she exits the market.
She warns that there is “no accommodation” for nurses or doctors in Waterford, despite receiving many inquiries from staff at a major drug company in Dungarvan.
“There are zero rental properties in Dungarvan – zero.”
She believes the government “really doesn’t understand” the scale of the problem and claims it’s “not photo-friendly” to be seen to support the landlord.
In Co Louth, real estate agent Jacqueline Watters of Blue Sky Property said she now only has four hours to post an ad because she’s getting “hundreds” of inquiries.
“We recently had a two-bed apartment and we’ve received 150 requests,” she said.
“We have people coming in crying and looking for a place to stay.”
A 3-room semi-detached house in the area is currently being rented, “from 1,300 to 1,850 euros – that’s what drives them and that’s what they get”.
Meanwhile, landlords are leaving the market.
“I have a guy who has eight properties with me who called last week to say he wants me to let everyone know. That’s eight people who I know are going homeless and I have nowhere to put them.”
She blames changes in the Residential Tenancies Board – which force landlords to re-register every year – for the mass exodus.
“They made a mess of it – you might as well talk to the wall.”
“Things are so bad” in Galway, says auctioneer Michelle Burke.
“You almost cry on the phone. I feel really sorry for people – you would have a really nice couple with two kids and good jobs who want to rent a nice house and are willing to pay the money, but there could be 20 or 30 applicants for the same property.”
Last week she advertised a four-bedroom semi-detached house on the outskirts of town and received 200 emails as a result.
“People are frustrated, but we have a girl who answers the emails and she can’t reach everyone.”
Sometimes, she adds, potential renters might get lucky and only have to wait three to four months for a property. In other cases, they could wait a year.
Even Ireland’s smallest county, Leitrim, is far from immune to the rental crisis.
Gordon Hughes explains how, due to the flood of inquiries, he usually doesn’t leave an ad for longer than half an hour.
“Right now we only have one property for rent on our books,” he said.
Working from home has meant many people have moved to the area despite having no connections, he said, revealing he had sold a house to a couple who work for Apple in Cork.
In the meantime, rents have risen by up to 50 percent in the last 18 months, he said.
“Maybe I’m saying this from an agent’s perspective, but it’s like the word ‘landlord’ is a dirty word,” he said.
“The recent focus on landlord politicians is even less helpful and likely gives even less chance of it being changed.”
The situation in rural Ireland is likely to get even worse over the next two years, he claimed, as the cost of building a house is currently around 30 per cent more than the selling price.
“This is a major crisis that we will all be talking about shortly,” he said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/we-had-a-gentleman-on-his-hands-and-knees-begging-for-a-property-letting-agents-on-the-devastation-of-the-housing-crisis-41958008.html ‘We had a gentleman on his hands and knees begging for a property’: let agents on the devastation of the housing crisis