By Claire Corrigan
A Mullingar man has spoken out about the enormous difficulties which are facing Mullingar renters in their search for a home in the town. Graham Temple contacted Topic last week to highlight the major lack of rented accommodation in the town, which he said has forced him into buying.
“I was looking for a place for my son and I to live and started looking for places to rent in Mullingar. I rented a 3-bedroom detached semi about five years ago in College Hill, and it was €650 per month. I had a choice of any amount of houses that I wanted when I searched on daft.ie at the time, starting from €500 per month.”
However, he said that the rent prices have risen so much in the intervening years, that he has now made the decision to purchase an apartment instead. A quick search of Daft.ie revealed that there are currently just 13 houses for rent in the town with the situation becoming even more dire when the search is limited to ‘houses to let’ with just five properties currently available. “There are no more than 13 or 14 premises to let in the entire Mullingar area and about half of them are just one-bedroom apartments.” Graham added.
When Graham saw an advertisement for a 4-bedroom house available for rent at Lakepoint, priced at €900 per month (it has now risen to €1000), he quickly called the number provided.
“That indicated to me that the person letting the house hadn’t checked that properties had gone up because the average price for a 3-bedroom house now seems to be €1100. I rang the number and I got the impression that he was getting a lot of calls about the house. He said they were doing an open viewing on Sunday from 2pm to 5pm and that I should bring all my documentation.”
NO HOUSES FOR LETTING
The next day, Graham was astounded to discover that the property had racked up an unbelievable 1000 views. “The fact that there are no houses for lettiung is forcing the price of rent up. A first time buyer will get a house with a 10 per cent deposit but I will have to pay 20 per cent because I am separated. I can’t see any reason at all for that measure. If I want to buy a house that is not for investment purposes and I want to live in it, why should I have to have a 20 per cent deposit?”
He said the figure continues to rise when all the other costs involved in purchasing a house are totted up. “€150,000 will get you a 3-bedroom house, so I will have to come up with €30,000 and €1,500 for stamp duty and another couple of grand for a solicitor and then you have to furnish the place so if you want to buy a house to live in, you have to come up with €40,000.”
In 2017, ‘Rent-pressure zones’ where landlords were only allowed to increase rent by up to 4 per cent a year or 12 per cent over three years under the Government’s rent-control policy, were introduced. However, Graham said the measures were doing little to tackle the issue. “When people cease their tenancies in Mullingar, the people who own the house can charge what they like. Because of the huge demand for rented accommodation, we are on the crux of having bidding wars between tenants. There is so little available and people are so desperate and there’s nothing there.”
The Mullingar Greyhound Racing commentator said that he had decided renting is no longer an affordable option for him and his son. “I was looking around for a place to rent, but because of the exorbitant rents and the lack of security, me and my son have decided that we wanted to buy. There are so many barriers in front of me and I cannot understand why, if I want to buy a home to live in, I will have to pay 20 per cent, even though I am within the financial parameter to buy a house worth €180,000.”
He said that in his view, current tenants have no security and are likely to face rent hikes in the future.”I really feel sorry for people in town who have been renting homes for a number of years for between €500 and €800 being told they have to move out and becoming homeless so the owner can charge another family more. How secure is somebody living in a house now for five years for that price with houses going for €1,200 at the moment?” he wondered.