Picture this: it’s nearing the end of the lease on that mould-ridden, impossible-to-heat hovel you’ve been breaking your balls to pay for over the past year. Shannon Duvall has a novel idea to make finding new digs easier.
You’ve been half-daydreaming about finding yourself a space more fit for human habitation; perhaps one where you don’t have to wear three jumpers indoors just to be able to feel your extremities.
A quick search on that old go-to Daft.ie turns up a couple of possibilities. But, before making a phone call, you yawn, scratch your bits, and open a new tab on your web browser. Click, clack, the search engine does the work and you feast your red-rimmed, half-crossed marbles on this beauty: RentedandRated.ie. Or LandlordsLaidBare.org. Or, hell, even ShouldYouBotherYourHole.com; call it what you will! Thing is, here’s an idea that could work! Think about it: a tenant-based website that rates landlords based on their behaviour, attitude, the state of the property, and the overall renting experience.
The search function can bring up landlords and rental properties, and a cumulative, user-based rating would appear, based on a set of predetermined criteria, such as how effectively and quickly necessary repairs were carried out. After all, there are important issues at hand. The return of deposit money, whether the place was warm, dry and economical, general issues of respect. These things might sound petty, but when you’re trying to get by from day-to-day, having the person you pay each month for the place you hang your hat actually pay attention and take responsibility for this stuff is invaluable. The problem is that all too often these men and women simply do not do so.
Threshold and prtb.ie do some really good work to try and pave the way for a fairer system for tenants, but the problem is much bigger than they can realistically handle. There are property owners who either feign ignorance over basic living standards, or simply ignore the tenant when concerns are voiced. It is not unheard of for landlords to get aggressive or insulting when a tenant asks for a problem to be remedied; all the while demanding inflated sums each month from us poor saps. A website that informs house hunters before they get pressured into signing a lease is a step toward taking the power back, or at least tipping the scales toward a more balanced, honest outcome. All that would be needed are one or two folks with both the impetus and the computer skills to make it happen, and we could be well on our way to a zero BS renting experience.