The Irish housing crisis is in full swing and shows no sign of slowing down.
Things look set to get worse before they get better. The government's failure to protect renters has far extended Dublin and is causing havoc in other Irish cities, with Cork being one of the worst affected.
The crisis is never far from the public eye, and there have been protests and demonstrations from Irish activists for years now, but still the government have failed to act in a way that makes a difference for the thousands of people trying to find a suitable place to live.
Now the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, is in hot water again after a tweet from a UCC student showing a queue for a viewing in Cork city went viral.
Second-year politics student Tom Redmond posted the tweet showing the long, snaking queue, and tagged Mr Murphy’s twitter account, saying:
“ [email protected] is that housing policy working yet or should I just keep waiting? Pic from a viewing today in Cork city. “
The Minster for Housing has not yet acknowledged the tweet.
— tom redmond (@tom_redmond1) July 30, 2019
People in the comments were quick to draw comparisons to waiting in line to show respect at a wake, while others who were at the same viewing claimed that what lay within the flat was just as bleak as what was happening outside.
Cailín O’Shea viewed the property and described the – to say the least—subpar conditions of the flat—but acknowledged that it doesn’t matter because someone will be desperate enough to take it.
@carthachsurf98 there we are caught rotten. The apartment is advertised as two bedroom but one room doesn't actually have a bed. The bedrooms are damp and there was no attempt even made to hide it. Yet, I'm sure there will be someone, maybe even me, desperate enough to take it!
— Cailín O'Shea (@CailinOShea) July 30, 2019
This is just a tiny glimpse into the struggles that people are facing when trying to rent in Ireland today. It doesn’t matter whether you are a student, working or raising a family; if you have savings or are a recipient of the HAP Scheme; at this point it seems that finding a suitable home takes as much blind luck as winning the lottery.
Private landlords can pick and choose who they want, can raise the rent as high as they like, and can allow their property to fall far below acceptable living standards-- again, because somebody will always be desperate enough to take it.
Tom has been struggling to find somewhere to live in Cork for a while, and says he has been "checking [Irish rental website] Daft and the UCC Student Pad daily but simply not seeing any properties which are within my price range.
Often you'll get no reply. So even to get a viewing for a place is a task.
"One of the biggest issues as a student is trying to find a spare room in an already occupied house, the majority of these ads will be from working professionals who have no desire to bring a student in to the house. I totally understand that and I as a student wouldn't want to move with working professionals who are at least 5 years older than me as I would constantly feel like I'm an annoyance or can't have a friend over to hang out, and this isn't how I would like to feel in the place I call home."
The situation for non-students is not any better.
Laura is 25 and expecting her first child. She lives in Cork city with her partner, and as her due date draws closer they are desperately trying to find somewhere more suitable to raise a child.
“We currently pay €1,200 to live in a 1 bedroom apartment. For our money we get a leaking ceiling every time our upstairs neighbours shower, which is often up to three times a day and usually one of the those times is at 2am.
“We are right above a beer garden and a busy pub, and alarms go off at all hours day and night. Getting sleep is not easy. The drains smell, sometimes our water runs brown and there is mould growing on the walls.
"Being pregnant now, this is simply no longer suitable for us so we are trying to find another place to start our family.
"We are refreshing Daft.ie all day and writing to suitable places, but we don’t get many viewings as there simply aren’t places going online.
"When we do get a viewing we prepare everything we need, as well as references and bank statements showing we can afford it.
"We show up very hopeful only to find about thirty other couples there with the same hope. This is just in the short time we're there-- these viewings go on for hours so I can only imagine how many people show up in the end.
"It’s very disheartening and extremely stressful.
"You’re dealing with agencies too not the actual landlords so they really don’t even pretend to care what you say.”
Laura says that there are usually several other pregnant women waiting in the long lines for these viewings, giving a worrying glimpse into the pressures these new mothers are facing and the uncertainty surrounding their children's futures.
We approached the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy for comment but have so far received no reply.
There are over 10,000 homeless people in Ireland.
Approximately 200,000 houses in Ireland are lying empty.