Housing Crisis – Anonymous Landlord 1

“I’ll start back in 2006. I had moved to Dublin a couple of years before for work and was renting with a few others in Dublin City. My girlfriend who is now my wife moved up and initially we stayed in the house together. We wanted to get our own place though and we went looking around the D2, D6, D8 areas for our own place to rent. We looked at an apartment that was €1,300 a month. An apartment in the same building was up for sale and a quick calculation suggested that buying at the asking price and paying a mortgage wouldn’t really cost us any more than renting. Literally overnight we were in the market to buy. It is surreal to think about it now, but it was unbelievably easy to get a mortgage at the time.I’d just turned 25. We went around looking for places at the end of 2006. We had a few bids in but were always gazumped. We eventually found another 1 bed place and went sale agreed at €381k. The apartment block we were buying was a bit old and a little shabby, but the area was lovely and the neighbours we met seemed nice. It had no lift or balcony and was a bit dated, but it was clean, well maintained.In the first half of 2007 we closed the purchase of our one bed apartment for €381k with a 95% mortgage. What could possibly go wrong? Things started to go wrong literally within months. We were all still being told that there was a soft landing coming and that it would all be fine. In 2008 the whole house of cards came down.”

“Initially this didn’t massively affect us, in fact initially there were some upsides. Our problems really started around 2011. We had gotten married and we had always intended to move back down the country to start a family. Dublin was massively expensive. We had bought on a little bit of a whim and we always intended to sell after a few years, and say goodbye to Dublin for good.The issue was that we were now in significant negative equity. I managed to get a move with work and keep my salary, but my wife was let go from her job and we were keen to start a family. We upped sticks and moved back in with my parents for a few weeks before renting a place near home.We rented out the apartment in Dublin as there was no chance of selling it. The mortgage was about €400 a month more than the rent we could get for it and on top of that we had a tax bill every year along with the cost of repairs and outlays. Things bottomed out in 2012. We were in rented accommodation when I got a phone call to say my employer was winding down. I had an unemployed wife, a young child, I was in rented accommodation and that week an apartment in our block had sold for €140k. I owed just over €300k on it at the time.  Dark, dark, dark days. Eventually, we managed to purchase a 3-bed semi in a nice estate for €160k, which was 40% of what we paid for a 1-bed in Dublin 6 years earlier. We’ve had the place in Dublin ever since. We’ve only had four tenants in all that time, all of whom were fantastic. All moved out when they bought their own places. I’ve had some very expensive nightmares with the apartment and had to put thousands into it. I’ve always played with a straight bat when it comes to the revenue and registering with the PRTB.”

“I like to think I am a good landlord, if there is such a thing, many will say there isn’t. An apartment in my block is being let for €1,800 but I let mine for just over €1k. I always get repairs done whenever they are needed and I left the tenants off when they missed a few month’s rent over the pandemic. It still costs me hundreds every month, the rent never covered the mortgage, and I have a fat tax bill or a fat repair bill every year. I was always able to take a long term view and think that if one of my kids wanted to go to college in Dublin when they grew up I had a place for them. It was manageable until mortgage rates started going up last year. Now there is a massive shortfall every month and it is really, really hard to cover it. My mortgage was sold to a vulture fund and there is no talking to them. Property must be the only business where you make a massive loss every year and still pay a huge tax bill. What really pisses me off is the ‘well, all Celtic Tiger landlords are sitting on a huge profit now’. I have paid capital and interest every month on my mortgage for over 15 years, have never had it covered by rent, paid a tax bill every year and I still wouldn’t clear my mortgage if I sold now. It is close, but I’d still have to cover the shortfall. Between topped up mortgage payments, tax, bills, the shortfall and the deposit I would be down the bones of €100k if I sold now.”

“I have good tenants in situ who I get on great with. They are a lovely couple who look after the place. They wouldn’t get anything nearby for anything close to what I charge them, if they could even get a viewing. The woman downstairs turned off her phone half an hour after she put her ad on DAFT as she had already fielded over a dozen calls. Most of the callers were willing hand her a deposit without even visiting the place. I will look to sell next year though, unless the government gives me some kind of incentive to stay on as a landlord. I’m not holding my breath for them to do anything meaningful for landlords or renters. I never intended to be a landlord. To be honest, I absolutely hate it. I just wanted a place to live for a few years before I sold up and moved home. I am down hundreds every month because of that apartment and I still wouldn’t clear my mortgage if I sold now. I’ve another humdinger of a tax bill to look forward to in October. I know there are others out there in the same boat. I don’t expect any sympathy if you print this. I expect the comments will be absolutely brutal to be honest. I’d like to think that people would realise that all landlords aren’t the same and that some of us never wanted to be in this position. I would love to sell my apartment to a couple or to a government agency that could give it to someone on the housing list. If the government offered to give me enough to clear my mortgage I would hand them the keys tomorrow. That is no good to my tenants though who would be just another young couple scrambling to find a place to live. I’d love to hear what any politician reading this has to say to me. The reality is though that the highest bidder is likely to be an investor when I do sell. If selling to an investor rather than a couple who will live there saves me having to cough up another €10k to cover my mortgage shortfall, can anyone honestly say they would do any different?”