Why, when I was 18 years old, did it not occur to me to pursue lifestyle journalism? You don’t even have to be good at it. You can be completely clueless and irrelevant and still, the Sunday Independent and the Irish Times will pay you to write stuff about your life.
Alison O’Riordan is interviewing potential flatmates according to the Sunday Independent. She has morphed from sticking her chin up and womanning up about her negative equity to getting someone in to live with her to subsidise some of that financial millstone which is keeping her locked in financial jail. The piece is pitiful. Utterly pitiful.
The problem for Alison is this: there is a limited pool of people who want to live in owner occupied accomodation. I have done it before and while, for the most part, it can be made to work, it is never, ever going to be anything other than “their” home. Their taste in pictures on the wall. Their taste in useless kitchen equipment. Their stupid bloody dishwasher which doesn’t actually work properly. Your quarter cubic inch of storage in the kitchen. It is not your home and never will be. And under current legislation, you have precious few rights as a licensee.
This is why a) I don’t live in owner occupied accommodation any more and b) when I buy my own home, I will be ensuring I can finance it without lodgers. Currently I live in rented accommodation with a flatmate. I did the interviewing.
Sometimes you can be lucky and sometimes you can be unlucky. You may click with people; you may not. But when you are interviewing as a tenant rather than a licensee there’s a chance you might well be equal with your flatmate. I have some very good friends who started off life as strangers I just happened to be living with for a while. Some weirdos too. In other words, whether you’re an owner or a tenant, the weirdos exist, they have money and they need somewhere to live.
But the Sunday Independent isn’t paying me to write about the experience of interviewing flatmates when I need one because one moves out. It isn’t paying me to write about the inadequacies in Irish tenancy legislation, and above all else, the practised detachment from reality on the part of many Irish landlords, particularly those who are selling properties that are occupied by tenants. It doesn’t want to know about the fact that the cooker in this house is older than me and I still haven’t worked out how long it takes the oven to actually heat up to the required temperature because frankly I tend to give up waiting after 20 minutes and fling whatever it is needs to be cooked in. Now. Cos I’m running out of time.
Instead, we get week after week of Alison’s negative equity, Alison’s decision to live down on 196E a week (not including rent), Alison’s “experience” interviewing potential licensees (you know, the ones she can throw out at no notice because if you live in owner occupied accommodation as a licensee, you have very few rights). Along with some weird insights:
The rental sector is particularly buoyant at the moment as many people cannot get a mortgage to buy their own place, so there are rich pickings for prospective landlords.
I’d love to know what she thinks she means by this. Currently rents are still static or falling which suggests excess of supply over demand. Buoyant may not be the right word unless you’re a potential tenant.
In order to gain as much control over the situation as possible and choose the person who is the best fit, I am tediously going through letters of recommendation from candidates to try to avoid that uneasy feeling of awkwardness with a new roommate.
Colour me mystified but having had to do this on several occasions over the past 10 years, I don’t remember getting letters of recommendation prior to the interviews…
Overall, from my experience, good tenants are thin on the ground.
On balance, I can think of a few reasons why this might be. For me, the number 1 deterrent of even calling Alison to say I wanted to see her room is the deep niggling suspicion that in about 3 months time, I’d be the subject of Alison’s piece on ” living with strangers because I’m in negative equity” piece. Would you really want that? I know I wouldn’t. Already, apparent interviewees are the subject for her output.
The Sunday Independent is – I think – the biggest selling newspaper in the country. However, I really have to wonder why when its quality control is such that stuff like this gets published
ETA 31 October.
The Sunday Independent has printed an apology in respect of this article which they have also pulled from their website. It now 404s.