Having just completed a degree in ag science at UCD, Yvonne Mullins has embarked on a master’s at Teagasc Grange, which sees her move between Grange and UCD, while also visiting farms all over the country.

Yvonne has been through the mill in terms of her living arrangements during her time at UCD and she describes the house she lived in from second to fourth year as “ridiculous”.

No floor

The house Yvonne lived in had four bedroms and worked out at €500 each per month.

“Which is reasonable for Dublin. It is fairly good compared with what other people are paying, but the place was rotten, it was an absolute disaster, it was chronic,” says Yvonne. “It was a small bungalow and basically the whole foundations of the house were falling, so the ground was sinking. There were four showers in it and it was on three-phase electricity, but they were four electric showers so obviously that was the first problem. The base of the showers all dropped two inches below, so anytime you’d turn on the shower the whole room would flood with water. It would all go underneath the floorboards, so the floorboards started coming up because it was all like wet and damp underneath, and the floorboards that were left down were chipping.”

The landlord sent someone out to fix it.

“The fella came, he ripped up the floorboards and he never came back for six weeks to put a new floor in so we’d no floor for six weeks,” explains Yvonne.


“The whole house was black with mould. I lived there for three years and I repainted it myself three times and bleached it, and the mould just kept growing out. There was no sense of the mould leaving. Anytime we painted it, it would regrow back out in three months’ time again, out through the paint. I used go home every weekend in second year and I’d be fine, but as soon as I’d come back up Sunday night I could be guaranteed I’d wake up Monday morning with a cold from the damp and mould in the place.”

No heating

“Then we had a heater crisis. The mains of the water was running over the boiler for the heating. It was a gas boiler and the valve on the pipe running over the water broke, so the water was getting into the boiler box and the boiler broke three times. This Christmas gone there were two of us still in the house; the heating went and it was the coldest house in the world. One lad would come out and he’d fix it and then it would break again, because the valves were the underlying problem and that was never fixed, so it would break again and again.”


“The cooker was right beside the fridge and if you put the oven on for too long it used to melt everything in the freezer, it was just a nightmare,” explains Yvonne.

Door locks

Another issue was the fact that one of the doors in the house never locked.

“It used to go straight into two bedrooms and it never locked, and we told the landlord several times. So we just left it open every day because there was nothing else we could do.”

Sharing beds

In second and third year Yvonne had her own room, but then this year “there were too many people looking for houses”, so she ended up sharing a bedroom with two others. However, there were only two beds, so two of the girls shared a bed. Yvonne says this isn’t uncommon.

“I know people who are in rooms with three people and they didn’t even have beds, they had mattresses on the floor because there wasn’t room to put actual beds in there. Then obviously there wasn’t room for wardrobes and things, so there was stacks of clothes here and there.”

Overall, Yvonne says there was “just like a knack to everything in the house. There was a knack to turning everything on, there was a knack to locking this door – I felt like I knew every crack in that house after three years”.

When she finished her degree, Yvonne and a friend started looking for another house, but they quickly realised they were going to have give up on Dublin.

“We tried every end of Dublin north side, south side, but there wasn’t really anything.”

Yvonne and her friend started looking in Meath instead and found a nice, three-bedroom house priced at €1,400 in Ashbourne, which works out at €466 each between three.

“It’s cheaper than Dublin and what you get is a lot better. If I was paying €460 in Dublin I’d be expecting a damp house with nothing working in it, really bleak and hasn’t been touched in years. At least where I’m going to now you’re getting a decent house for that money.”


Yvonne says her experience isn’t unusual.

“Definitely everyone was the same. I’d say every college house I’ve been to, all my friends’ houses, everyone’s was damp and every one had mould. There is not one college house I’ve been into that didn’t have damp or mould …they [the landlords] don’t care if you don’t want to pay it – someone else will pay more for it and they know that.” CL