Average Galway City Rent 2011: €560 for a 1 bed
Average Galway City Rent 2018: €848 for a 1 bed
An increase of 51%
Might there be a link?
The housing crisis, sadly, isn’t just a Dublin problem. There isn’t a single county in Ireland where nobody spent Christmas Day in emergency accomodation last year. Galway is no exception – in the last year, the number of people homeless has soared, with the number of homeless children increasing by 50%.
A less easily-documented aspect of the crisis is students who come to Galway to study but are unable to find a place to live. Many Galway hostels have capitalised on this, specifically advertising beds at extortionate rates to students.
We did a search of daft.ie on 08/10/2018 for Galway, and saw listings for 51 residential properties available to let in the Galway city area. But when we searched for ‘entire place’ on Airbnb, we saw anything up to 206 listings which were largely concentrated in Galway city.
Despite what some landlords might say to the folks in Take Back The City, moving out of Dublin won’t make life any easier.
This is part of a much bigger problem in Ireland, as landlords come to favour short-term lets over the troublesome, more heavily regulated business of actual tenancies. Slumleaks aren’t crazy about AirBnb, and we don’t think our readers are – especially those in Galway city, where AirBnb use grew by 73% last year .
However, some landlords are even more avaricious than others- none more than Slumleaks’ latest target, Eugene Burke – just your average young entrepreneur hiding in plain sight behind companies, contractors and even his own family.
Eugene Burke is listed as an Airbnb host for at least 24 properties as of 08/10/2018 – the busiest host in Galway City.
He rents out apartments and houses on behalf of their owner(s) through his company Nest Egg Property Services Ltd.
Nestegg Property Services describes itself on its website as
“an Airbnb management and consultancy service that removes the hassle of renting out your property on the Airbnb platform.”
And they also kindly clarify that
“Working with NestEgg can provide you with a greater return on your property investment than through traditional property investment.”
But every pyramid scheme says that. How does Mr Burke manage to maximise profit whilst wrecking the rental market for students, locals whose rent has risen by 13.6% in the last year?
Burke makes his money in two ways: by charging the owner of the property a 15% service fee, or by renting the property himself from the owner and letting it out short-term to others for a substantially higher fee.
In true entrepreneurial – middle man – style he uses contractors to clean the places, judging from a Facebook review for the company Zelwork.The prices listed on Eugene’s Airbnb profile range from €60-€290 a night depending on the size and location of the property. With 1556 reviews left on his page there must be a substantial turnover.
Many of the properties he rents out are listed as being owned by his family members including one on Grattan Terrace which is owned by his mother. This previously operated as a B & B and is now rented out as an ‘artistic’ Airbnb for up to 10 people. From what Slumleaks can gather this means it’s been redecorated recently and has a better coffee maker.
He also operates at least one property in the Drom Ard Apartment block, also belonging to his mother Attracta Burke.
This apartment block was once a residential complex of locals, students and families who lived and worked in the city. It now appears to be almost entirely short-term lets.
Any Slumleaks reader worth their salt will know AirBnb has never been about people letting out their spare room. Galway’s housing market has been destroyed by landlords buying out entire blocks of apartments, much as Dublin’s city center has been turned into an open-air hotel where tourists sleep in apartments while families sleep in hotels.
One former tenant who rented one of the other apartments in the block told us they were forced to move out due to the inadequate heating and out of control mould which neither the owner nor the property management company saw fit to address.
“we had to constantly use the dehumidifier… I had to have a hot water bottle, electric blanket and a hoodie on to sleep during the winter… I arrived back after Christmas, after maybe 10-14 days away, there was mould growing covering the floor walls and roof as well as wardrobe.”
This same flat is currently advertised on multiple short letting sites by another ‘host’ (strangely enough, also with the first name Eugene – but that, dear reader, is a story for another day). It’s looking a lot less mouldy these days.
Another property on Eugene’s page – 21 The Long Walk – appears to be owned by Pádraig Ó Céidigh – a Senator, businessman, wannabe Presidental candidate and another self described ‘entrepreneur’ who made an impassioned defence of Airbnb on the Marian Finucane show on the 9/9/2018.
Admittedly, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.
Join us soon, when Slumleaks gets to the humans behind the story of skyrocketing rents, vacant properties and bullied tenants beyond the Pale.