Colette Sexton, news correspondent at the Sunday Business Post, on how to find good housemates.
The huge problems in the Irish housing market are well documented. Dublin is the fifth most expensive city for renters in Europe, according to the ECA International. The average rent for a three-bed home in Dublin is now €3,406 per month, making it more costly to rent here than in Amsterdam, Stockholm and Paris. The rising costs of rents, combined with sky-high house prices, mean that millennials are likely to rent for longer periods than previous generations. Half of UK millennials will rent rather than own their homes into their 40s, while one-third will rent into retirement, according to the Resolution Foundation.
In Ireland, those that do manage to buy their homes, do so at an older age than their predecessors. The average age at which people buy their first home has increased to 35, according to the Central Statistics Office’s most recent data from 2016. This was a major jump from 1991 figures, when the average first-time buyer was aged 26.
Related: Dishonest landlords and secret housemates: The bleak reality of renting in Dublin
All of this means that millennials are living with housemates for years longer than previous generations would have. In some cases, this can be a wonderful experience. A house shared by a group of friends, or people who develop friendships after living together, can be great. They will socialise together, make dinner for each other and become friends for life. But finding that perfect fit can be the difficult part.
The perfect housemate
What qualities does the perfect housemate have? The latest research from room share platform, Ideal Flatmate, based on flat sharers in London found that housemates are relaxed about their cohabitors’ sexual orientation and religious preferences. However, they prioritise a clean and organised fridge, housemates that are happy to help each other with personal tasks, fair sharing of household chores, and regular evening social lives.
Related: No ordinary housing crisis: 'We are angry, we are frustrated, we are stuck'
If you are trying to find a tenant for your home, there are some key questions you need to ask potential flatmates.
- What is their daily routine? If they wake at the crack of dawn to bang on drums as the sun rises when you like sleeping in, that might be a problem.
- How often do they think the bathroom should be cleaned? If you are a complete Monica from Friends and they think the toilet is self-cleaning, then you are not compatible.
- Do they have a significant other, and if so, how often do they envision that person staying over? If you agree for someone to move in, and they practically move in their other half too, it could drive you crazy.
- Do they have a pet? If they want to move in their beloved Saint Bernard to your third-floor apartment and you are allergic to dogs, then best to tell them to look elsewhere.
As well as those questions, trust your gut when housemate hunting. If you get a bad feeling, even if they tick all of the other boxes, then this person is not the right fit for you and your home. You should feel safe and happy in your home, so make sure that you select the right person for it.