Finding a place to rent was really gruelling

All-consuming, exhausting and at times demoralising — that’s how LOUISE O’SULLIVAN found her search for a rental property in Cork recently. Here she shares her experience
Finding a place to rent was really gruelling

GRUELLING PROCESS: Louise O'Sullivan

I FOUND myself wandering around the €1,400 per month two-bedroom apartment a little disappointed, to be blunt. What looked like a bright spacious unit in the photos online was far less appealing in the flesh.

Marked walls greeted us as we entered only to be told the apartment comes as is because the landlord can’t afford to repaint it and that the price had been reduced already to take this into account. Just one of many issues with the apartment, particularly for the price.

Thankfully, this was the first viewing on our house hunting journey. The experience of finding somewhere in the rental market was exactly as I had feared, all consuming, exhausting and at times demoralising.

The gruelling process began with firstly downloading the Daft.ie app and filtering the searches to match location and budget requirements. To be clear, most adverts that are put up get thousands of views and the competition to even get an initial response was near impossible in some cases. 

Gone are the days of simply answering an ad and going for a viewing. Now there are multiple hoops to jump through before reaching that stage. I had a template response drafted that I had saved to my phone so I could quickly copy and paste it into any of the ads that were suitable. It was a concise few lines clearly outlining employment, age, availability of references, no pets and so on.

When you’re lucky enough to get a reply you are given a list of questions, most of which had been covered in my initial response to the ad which only highlighted that said responses are barely read to begin with. In some instances I found the questions were borderline invasive. One such example was being asked for a screenshot of your current bank balance. To any of those, I didn’t reply. Once you pass this test some agents will send you a virtual tour of the house as well as ask for your references up front. 

generic stock business news mortgage A set of house keys rests on a table. Picture: PA
generic stock business news mortgage A set of house keys rests on a table. Picture: PA

I thought the virtual tour concept worked well given everything happening with Covid and it does give you a better idea of the home and whether or not you want to proceed with an in person viewing. One thing I will say is that photos can be very deceiving so make sure you do see the premises in person before agreeing to anything or handing over any deposit. Going through each of the steps really emphasises just how much of a demand there is for rentals and further highlights what I feel is very much a landlords market.

Although people speak continuously about the cost of renting it isn’t until you really start looking for yourself that you see it truly is extortionate. Don’t get me wrong, there are some landlords who charge a fair price for what is on offer but it must be said they seem to be in the minority. A large proportion of two or three bedroom apartments or houses are between €1200- €1300 per month but go up to €1500 in some cases, if not more. What’s more worrying is they seem to be constantly increasing. It is no wonder so many people need to move back home in order to save to actually purchase a house because with the rental market as it is at the moment, it’s near impossible to save. Furthermore, for anyone trying to rent or buy on their own the system has even more challenges.

After five viewings, what felt like hundreds of ads and an immeasurable amount of refreshing Daft every 20 minutes, we found somewhere in budget which met all of our requirements and we are very lucky to have gotten all this along with a fantastic landlord. The sense of relief we felt when we were accepted for the house was enormous.

I certainly don’t envy anyone going through the process as it truly does become like a full time job constantly hoping for a suitable place to become available and furthermore that you get a viewing for it.

One other thing I would say is that inevitably there will be adverts you reply to and there will be radio silence (you’ll get used to this). Don’t take it to heart because in most cases the lack of response is probably nothing to do with you but more that there are hundreds of people just like you all vying for the same properties.

The process will vary from agency to agency but you will find virtual tours, references up front, lists of questions and waiting outside properties at a safe distance along with other hopeful renters has become the norm particularly with restrictions in place for the foreseeable future. One last thing to remember is to ensure your tenancy gets registered with the PRTB!

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