I have presented hundreds of Liveline programmes over the past 15 years and spoken to possibly thousands of callers. But one programme which stands out was last September when we took a call from a middle aged single woman who was about to become homeless.
Her landlord had given her notice. She was not able to afford the alternatives that suited her situation. It resulted in an avalanche of calls from similar middle aged, middle class single women in desperate situations.
They were working in solid jobs but were simply not able to afford rocketing rents. One woman broke down as she told us about living in a friends shed.
Think about that for a minute, a 50-something, tax-paying woman living in a shed. Others spoke about paying huge rent and not missing a payment for over 20 years yet they could not save the deposit required by banks to apply for a loan.
We have gone from a situation where banks recklessly threw around 100% mortgages like snuff at a wake during the Celtic Tiger years to a complete over correction whereby a person or couple who are good for €1,500 per month and upwards in rent are deemed too risky for banks to give a mortgage, even if the monthly repayments would be €1,000 or less.
It is ridiculous and it is part of the huge housing/rental crises situation we have in this country.
The Central Bank and financial regulator along with other relevant bodies need to sit down and rethink the whole process.
We don’t want to go back to that 100% mortgage shambles but there must be a halfway house which allows people with proven capability of paying over €1,000 a month in rent-but unable to gather a deposit-apply for a mortgage.
Ironically, a lot of people who bought one or two investment properties in the early 2000s availed of these big 80% plus mortgages with some tax breaks built in too in some designated areas.
As long as these properties were able to “wash their face”, they were seen as a good investment. It wasn’t a crime to have done so. Then the crash happened and their value plummeted.
Today, owners of these investment properties with a big mortgage, (a legacy of those easy to get bank loans) are being screwed with taxes and other costs. This in turn is forcing them to up the rents so that the properties continue to “wash their face”.
Once these properties are back in positive equity, we are hearing from the landlord association that these small time amateur landlords are getting out fast and not being replaced except by the huge investment funds.
This is adding to the housing/rental crises as tenants are forced to leave the property being sold only to find alternatives unaffordable. It’s a vicious circle. These landlords are not to be confused with vulture funds and large scale professional property owners.
Yet they are all lumped in together when it comes to political discussions on the subject. It’s a dog’s dinner and it is hard to believe that the banks are not more progressive in finding solutions seeing that they were key authors of the mess in the first place when they handed out these loans to investors who saw them as quasi pension funds.
If a person can demonstrate that they have paid rent for three years without missing a payment, then they should be given some credit. It might also afford single middle-aged people some dignity.
I am over 30 years going to championship matches in Croke Park yet thanks to the Irish summer, every single time I am leaving the house I have the dilemma, do I bring a coat or not!