Finding accommodation in Ireland – 5 things to know
Ireland is currently entrenched in a housing crisis, causing a headache for anyone looking for accommodation. This is especially true for those just arriving to the Emerald Isle, who beyond getting their bearings in a new country, must find a place to live.
Babylon spoke with officials from two organisations that are actively involved in the country’s housing situation to get their advice and insight for prospective tenants in Ireland. The following tips come from talking with Margaret McCormick of the Irish Property Owners Association and Karina Timothy, with Threshold, an organisation supporting those at risk of becoming homeless.
How can I find a place to live in Ireland?
Finding a place to live before coming here is the best option but not the only way to do it.
Ireland is experiencing a “severe accommodation shortage,” said Timothy, the western regional services manager at Threshold. The current struggle to locate affordable housing is why it’s best to have accommodation in place beforehand, she said.
“Ideally if you’re moving to Ireland, you should really have somewhere to move into, prior to coming,” she told Babylon, as opposed to living in a hostel while searching for places to live. One possible option is living with friends or family in Ireland while looking for housing.
Some places where those who are already here can look for accommodation are notice boards in stores, sites like daft.ie and myhome.ie or just asking around, said McCormick, the information officer at the Irish Property Owners Association.
“But frequently you will find rooms where people are moving out and somebody else is moving in,” she said.
Reliable websites like Daft.ie and property.ie are also helpful in searching for housing from abroad because looking for accommodation from afar comes with the increased risk of scams, Timothy said.
“The problem though, I suppose, with looking (for) accommodation from abroad is you’re more liable to maybe fall subject to a scam,” she told Babylon. “You need to be very, very careful about that.”
How do I avoid scams?
As the old adage goes, if an accommodation offer seems “too good to be true” it probably is, as Timothy and McCormick said.
“If you see something online and the rent is very low . . . it appears wonderful and they want you to agree immediately and transfer money immediately,” McCormick said. “I think you need to be very, very sure that what you’re getting is what you’re getting.”
Many of the scams are done through social media posts, Timothy said, and are often accompanied by stories. An example is someone claiming to be leaving Ireland for a year and offering a very cheap rent for someone willing to stay at their place in the meantime.
Scams will often ask individuals to transfer money through services like PayPal as opposed to a bank account, Timothy told Babylon.
How much money do you need per month to rent in Ireland?
McCormick and Timothy were both hesitant to give estimates on how much someone can expect to pay for rent in Ireland due to all the factors involved. However, the Residential Tenancies Board released figures this summer showing a jump in rates. In the first quarter of 2022 new rents were an average of €1,460, more than a 9% increase.
The distance people are commuting into cities like Dublin is also increasing as individuals can’t afford accommodation in the capital, Timothy told Babylon. Similar things are being seen with students, she said, like some attending college in Galway, who are commuting from accommodation in County Offaly in central Ireland.
What are my rights (and responsibilities) as a tenant?
Renters should know what’s expected of them and what they can expect from their landlord prior to moving in, McCormick said.
“I would say to them that they should be aware of their obligations as well as their rights,” she told Babylon. “So that they’re aware of what they(’re) supposed to do as well as what they have rights to.”
It’s important that tenants can afford the rent and the utility fees, McCormick said. Upon moving in, tenants should do an inventory of their accommodation, she said, such as photographing the oven and fridge to ensure they are “clean and in good order” and can be left as such at the end of the stay.
One of the tenant’s main responsibilities is to pay the rent, and in some lease agreements each tenant in a group of renters may be “jointly and severally liable,” McCormick said. This would ensure that even if one of the roommates does not pay rent, the other two would have to pay on that person’s behalf, she said.
The rights and responsibilities of renters in Ireland are spelled out in the Residential Tenancies Act of 2004, which continues to be updated. As of last year, Irish law prevents landlords from asking for more than two months rent upfront.
The law also prevents the landlord from making unannounced visits to the space they are renting out.
“Your landlord is only allowed to enter your home with your permission. If your landlord needs to repair or inspect the property, it should be arranged in advance, unless it is an emergency,” Ireland’s Citizen Information website states.
Many tenants are unaware of their right to “peaceful and exclusive occupation,” Timothy said, which beyond unannounced in-person visits, prevents landlords from calling up constantly without reason to do so.
“It may be the landlord’s house, yeah absolutely, but it’s your home,” she said.
Renters also have rights when it comes to notices of termination, which notify individuals that their tenancy will be ending. Valid notices of termination are currently the main cause of homelessness in Ireland, Timothy told Babylon.
“If they’re a tenant, if they’re in a tenancy, and they’ve been served a notice of termination by their landlord they need to contact us, contact Threshold,” she said. “And we can assess whether that notice of termination is actually valid.”
For termination notices to be valid they must meet several requirements.
The notice must be written and say what the date of the termination is, giving the tenant the full day specified. The communication also must inform the tenant that they have 90 days to dispute notice to the Residential Tenancies Board, which oversees rental housing in Ireland.
If the notice is being given because the landlord plans to sell the property, which is most common according to Timothy, then a statutory declaration must be included with the notice.
There is currently an eviction ban for individuals set to be evicted between October 30 and March 31 of next year, however there are some exceptions. An individual can still be evicted if they are not fulfilling their “tenant obligations,” such as paying rent.
Threshold can help inform tenants of their rights and represent tenants in disputes with their landlord, Timothy said.
“It’s very difficult for tenants out there, but they do have rights,” she said. “And if they’re unsure of their rights they really, really need to contact us. Because we can help.”
Threshold’s helpline is 1800 454 454.
Do renters benefit from Ireland’s latest budget?
Ireland’s September budget featured some measures to assist renters. One of these benefits is the Rent Tax Credit for people in “private rented accommodation.” The annual €500 euro credit begins for rent paid in 2022 and will continue into future years.
A second budget item is a tax credit for rising energy costs. Electricity customers will receive €600 this winter, split into €200 portions given in November, January and then March.
For more information on being a tenant in Ireland visit the website of the Residential Tenancies Board.