Thousands of families continue to flee Ireland every year to set up home abroad, leaving their homes empty.
Having an obsession with home ownership possibly one of the first questions that Irish people ask when they meet abroad is, do you own a house at home? Not entirely a superficial inquiry, myself, I think that it is easier to settle abroad when you know where home is. It is certainly easier work towards an already identified mortgage repayment as opposed to saving blind for a deposit to buy a house in a market that’s about as secure as a chocolate teapot.
So in general it’s seen as a plus to already have a property at home, if it’s a one bedroom apartment in Dublin 6 that you’re family has grown out of, it can be regarded as an investment property, if it’s a four detached in leafy suburbia, you may hope to move back to it and at some stage enjoy the Carrera clad sunroom you built on in 2008. You decide to rent it out to receive a stable income which should cover about half the exorbitant mortgage you signed up to back in 2007, although it will never stretch to the top- up mortgage you agreed over the phone in 2009. Bear in mind that Irish renters, agents and residential tenancy boards have no insight or interest in the mortgage repayments on the property that keeps you up a night. The landlord is 100% responsible for the mortgage.
For those that have left their family home, they probably started with the initial fantasy of keeping it vacant for summers and even a cheeky trip home around Easter but money in the Middle East doesn’t stretch as far as they initially thought and before long they end up logging on to daft.ie or myhome.ie and putting their beloved home up for rent. At the onset this seems like a good idea, a little return on the crippling monthly outlay and whenever you want the house back, you tell the tenants and bingo, your back in your pad.
But talk to any Irish person living abroad and maintaining a property at home and they’ll tell you the real story, it’s a nightmare! Not only does the law fall firmly on the side of the tenant, responsibility for 90% of the problems associated with rental property falls heavily into the landlords lap. Should you wish to enter your home, (the one you’re working your ass off to pay for), you must request a time from the tenant, make sure to take off your shoes when entering, be polite and bring a cake, sweets for the kids, that kind of thing and don’t overstay your welcome. If you want to sell the house, you must again inform the tenant in writing, provide counselling for the stress the upheaval will cause the tenant and buy a house warming present for their new home, that’s if the PRTB board allow you to put your own home on the market.
Bear in mind that all of these home owners in Ireland are renters in the Middle East and ne’er was there a juxtaposition to make one realise just how good renters have it in Ireland. In Doha, we had to submit 24 post-dated cheques to the landlord to secure our 2 year unbreakable lease. Upon receipt of same cheques I was notified that all and any problems to do with general maintenance, plumbing, electrical etc. would be my responsibility. As for the white goods – what white goods? You supply your own washing machine, fridge, cooker, furniture etc. A bounced cheque, a unexpected redundancy, any shift in the sands, will result in eviction. All this and then you receive a call from Threshold to say that the washing machine is broken in Carrigtwohill and the six hours of inaction is causing significant stress to the tenant.
As the arrears mount so too does the feeling of ‘what’s in it for me’, your social welfare tenant is living there for nothing, you cannot always stretch to meet the repayments and on top of that you find yourself spending hours online looking for a part for a washing machine. So enough depicting landlords as lords of the land swanning in abusing the tenant, renting your home is a financial decision not a charity run, and in the case of the emigrated ‘landlord ’ many are juggling the double whammy of facing repossession at home and eviction abroad.