Writing on the wall

writingonthewallThe property market was largely the stumbling block that led Ireland into recession in 2008 and only in the past few years has the country started to climb out of it. The thing is, the figures are looking better on the books, but most people still struggle. Ireland always had a culture of owning your own home, so rented property was always not the “nicest” around… During the boom landlords bought new apartments, which improved the quality of the rented accommodation to some extent, but also the prices went through the roof. Being a tenant in Ireland you have no security. The standard lease is one year. There are no long term leases like in most European countries. There is no regulation of the rent, there is very little control over the condition of the apartments. In the past year alone the rents have risen in Dublin by 16.6%. The demand is very high, the supply is not there and people are falling off the rental market in to homelessness and poverty every day.

Now don’t think I am here to start another landlord v tenant moan. Even though the landlords in Ireland have had a bad reputation in the past, I know most of them have their backs against the wall. Sure there is a certain amount of greed that drives the market (you want to have a laugh about this subject, click HERE), but I have talked to several landlords in the past few years and the pressure is coming from the banks, the same people very much responsible of Irelands plummet into the recession in 2008. I know cases where the landlord had bought the property at the height of the boom, and now had massive mortgage repayments. Now they were struggling with the repayments, not falling back massively or anything like that, but just struggling. Now as soon as the bank became aware of the landlord struggling with the rents, he was ordered to raise the rents massively. This has been going on for several years now and no one talks about it openly.

So the government is promising more social housing, and there is talk about adjusting the rent allowance for the unemployed, pensioners and those who can avail of it. This will lead to more hemorrhaging from the system…

The government got a stark reminder of the epidemic homelessness in Ireland earlier this week as a homeless man John Corrie died of hypothermia just outside the government buildings. There was an emergency summit, a lot of promises which hopefully will lead to actions. The government has had their plans in the past… “The Way Home” program was put in place in 2008 and adjusted in 2011 with a plan to eradicate homelessness in Ireland. Here’s what it states: “In August 2008, the revised National Homeless Strategy, entitled The Way Home: A Strategy to Address Adult Homelessness in Ireland, 2008-2013 was launched, and accepted the broad thrust of the recommendations in the review of the earlier strategies. 14 The core objective of the strategy was that: “from 2010, long-term homelessness and the need for people to sleep rough will be eliminated throughout Ireland” (full article HERE). Obviously it has failed…

The thing is, the government cannot “fix” these problems without a wide arrange of actions and massive investment. But what I do not understand why everybody keeps brushing rent regulation under the carpet. If rents were regulated, it could instantly stop people falling off the bottom end of the market into homelessness. The government should have the balls to tell the banks to back off! Regulate their powers to take property away from landlords who are providing quality accommodation. If the landlords can’t pay their mortgage payments, there should be optional payment plans and flexibility from the bank’s. It was after all the banks who recklessly issued mortgages in the past decade. And as the new mortgage rules will be put in place in January, more and more people will be relying on rented accommodation. This needs to be fixed right now!

So there we go, another rant over 😀 But these are the issues in my head while I was writing this weeks song “Writing on the wall”. It was actually written a few weeks back and once again I had chills in my back when I was watching the news of the unacceptable death of John Corrie. It is not a case of “Sooner or later something’s going to break”, it has broken already and the government is just trying to play a game of political chess… I think it is time for a clean slate and next Wednesday the 10th of December 2014 the people of Ireland have an opportunity to voice their anger at how badly the political system has failed the people it is supposed to serve in a peaceful, but meaningful protest on Molesworth street, in Dublin. And we all know this is a universal problem.


The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get three of his free songs go HERE and click Download