The Dublin Housing Crisis & The Impact on the Lives of Migrants

The housing crisis in Dublin is nothing new but, somehow, it seems to be getting worse.

Piece of paper next to a small wooden house and a set of keys.

During the pandemic, we witnessed rooms, studios, houses and apartments being announced on housing websites and on groups on social media for affordable prices. Now, as the country goes back on track, finding any type of house vacancy seems to be impossible.

The Simon Communities of Ireland’s most recent report shows that there was a 92% drop in the number of affordable houses since June 2021, less than a year ago. Only 80 properties across 16 areas of the country were available for Housing Assitance Payments (HAP) receivers, and a lot of them are migrants in vulnerable conditions.

Findings by the Economic and Social Research Institute show that many migrants have a much higher risk of overcrowding and homelessness than Irish-born. In 2016, 56% of all migrants were living in private rented housing, compared to 13% of Irish-born.

Around 8% of Irish-born individuals lived in overcrowded accommodation in 2016. In contrast, almost 20% of migrants in Ireland lived in overcrowded accommodation.

Census data also shows that non-Irish nationals are over represented among homeless people in Ireland; non-Irish nationals comprised 11% of the total population. Non-Irish nationals made up 25% of persons in homelessness.

There were high overcrowding rates among some non-EEA migrants, including migrants from the Middle East and North Africa (37%), Sub-Saharan and Other Africa (39%), South Asia (41%) and East Asia (37%).

A very brief look at Daft.ie, Rent. ie and Facebook housing groups reflect the urgency of the matter. On the 18th of April, there were only 432 properties to rent in Daft.ie. Only 12 properties under 1,000 euro per month, which were mostly student accomodations. The current minimum wage in Ireland for full-time workers is 1,656.20.

On top of the lack of affordable housing, people are reporting a spike in scams and a lot of the posts featuring house vacancies are fake and aimed at new arrivals.

Screenshot from Facebook Group

This situation is particularly concerning for international students. Non-EU students pay double the amount for school fees in Ireland, are only allowed to work part-time and arrive in the country unprepared for the challenges of housing. Most of them arrive with only a few weeks of accommodation, if any, and without a PPS number and reference letters, which are among lanlords’ requirements.

Even students that arrive in Ireland with paid accomodation with Irish families struggle and face racism and xenophobia. B.S, a student from El Salvador, shared her journey so far in Ireland with GoingFar. She was living with a family in Killiney, but reported being controlled, suffering racism and consequently, needing to move out of the house she was in.

“They were extremely controlling. I paid for two meals per day and the man complained about how much food I was eating and that it was expensive.” I suffered racism multiple times and I needed to move out. I coudn’t find affordable rooms in the Dublin so I had to move to Kilcock and now I travel almost 2 hours to get to school.”

— B.S., El Salvador

She went on to say that she could not find any affordable rooms in Dublin after that, so went to live in Kilcock, and now spends 2 hours getting to her school. She keeps being harassed, in person and online:

“Today I went to visit a room and kids threw eggs at me. I told my story in a Facebook group and people replied me saying I should go back to my country if I am not happy.”

— B.S., El Salvador

However, workers that have salaries much higher than the minimum wage are also struggling. We spoke to L.B., an Italian professional working in Ireland. She is an example of how the housing crisis affects people from all backgrounds. L.B. has been in Ireland since 2019. She said that it was difficult to find a place in the beginning but that “with a bit of luck” she found a nice room in Clontarf. However, she decided to move when he found a mouse in her bedroom. She moved to Smithfield and was happy with her place, but her landlord decided to live in the apartment with his girlfriend and only gave L.B. 3 weeks notice. She reports that it’s been extremely difficult to find accommodation since, even having replied to move than 400 adverts on Daft.ie and similar websites.

I was desperate; I am still desperate. The prices have increased a lot, too much. The demand is high and the offer nonexistent. I have been looking for a room/apartment since January and I only could manage to find temporary accommodation in Terenure (Dublin 6) until the end of May.”

— L.B., Italy

LB said that she has tried calling and emailing agencies, but they never get back to her. She also said that being single and working from home have been issues in her home search.

“The only few viewings I could attend to the letting managers made it clear that I could never find anything on my own as the landlords want two people signing the contract. So being a single person it’s even more difficult to find accommodation.

(…) I have a permanent full-time job I cannot afford it (my salary is around 30,000€ gross per year). At the moment I am still working from home and I had to erase this detail as many landlords are not willing to rent to somebody who is WFH.”

— L.B., Italy

How to find a property to rent during the housing crisis?

Here are some things you can do to cope with the housing crisis:

  • Have all your documents ready
  • Set up alerts on all major rental websites (Daft.ie, Rent.ie, MyHome.ie, Property.ie)
  • Make sure to contact rental agencies in Dublin
  • Talk to your friends and colleagues about your situation and ask for help
  • Avoid scams! NEVER send money or documents without seeing the property first.
  • Share your story with the press. Make your voice heard, send your story to the main newspapers in Ireland such as The Irish Times, Irish Examiner and Irish Independent.

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An initiative to support, inform and inspire migrant professionals in Ireland.

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GoingFar Ireland

An initiative to support, inform and inspire migrant professionals in Ireland.