The Landlord Wars
To all the landlords & politicians,
I have lived in the same accommodation in Dublin city centre for 5 years. It is located in the Grand Canal and as a results I pay a high rental price for my ensuite bedroom. The landlord uses a management company to manage the apartment and when I say I have had a dreadful experience with the management agency, it doesn’t even cover it.
We had a broken washing machine for 5 months, and they refused to change it. We decided as an apartment to withhold rent until they did. As soon as we did, we immediately got a new washing machine. We have not yet been refunded for the 5 months of dry cleaning we had to use while the washing machine was on the blink.
My flatmates bed collapsed while he was sleeping on it and it damaged his back. The management company refused to change the bed until we got a medical cert to say it was negatively affecting his health. Once we did, they changed the frame of the bed but not the mattress. I turned out that the new frame did not fit the mattress size and he was forced to sleep on a bed with a mattress that was too big for the frame. He was essentially sleeping on a slanted mattress. Again it was seriously affecting his back. It took 2 months until we refused to sign the lease, for them to do anything about it.
The next in a long line of issues, were the extractor fans in the bathrooms. The fans had bene in the apartment for as long as I was there, and had not been changed. With the layout of the apartment, it is obvious that there was an extra room added to optimise the rental value. As a result, none of the bathrooms have any windows, and rely solely on the extractor fans to remove excess moisture. The fans became less effective, probably due to age. The moisture was no longer getting removed from the bathrooms. The varnish on wooden doors began to peel and the entire house would fill condensation every time someone took a shower. We asked repeatedly for extractor fans, but they refused to offer any. It was again until we refused to sign the lease that they changed the fans.
The final and most disgusting of the issues came when rats started showing up in the apartment. We are clean and the apartment is always immaculate. It transpired that the whole block was infested. When we contacted the management company about it, we were told that this issue was a building issue and not an apartment issue. They refused to find us alternative accommodation until the issue was resolved. I was forced to booked a hotel using my own credit card, and stay there until the issue was resolved. The management company said they would pay me back… but I have yet to see the money. My next step is to reduce the amount of rent I pay and challenge them that this covers the expenses I incurred while relocated
What gets to me about all of this is that the management company tried to increase the rent we pay by 500 Euro a month “to bring it in line with market rates”. They requested the increase via e-mail 2 days before the governments new legislation. Thankfully, being a trainee solicitor I knew that e-mail was not a valid form of documentation in which to increase rent. There is a flip side to this though, which puts me and my flatmates at risk. As the management company refuse to act until the rent is delayed, I am technically breaching my contract…but what am I to do?
A short term solution:
My suggestion to the new government is to fully define “inline with market value” does this mean that we are able to be charged at the same rate for a run down 3 bed apartment then we are for a brand new 3 bed apartment in the same area? The greyness of the new law is putting tenants in more danger of ruthless management companies, and forcing me to question if there is an alternative motive?? After all who’s to say my landlord isn’t some politician who is looking at his pension portfolio……