Property Apartheid

propWomen’s rights have changed unbelievably in the last few decades. We can vote, we have choice who (and if) we choose to marry, we can get any job we are qualified for and if we want to buy a place to call our own, we can.

Up to the mid-1980s it was impossible for a woman on her own to get a mortgage. So, despite a woman being a teacher, a nurse or a hairdresser, owning a home was beyond her reach. If you think of a ‘career woman’ who wanted to buy her own apartment in Sandymount or Ballsbridge, that right to own property was denied her by the then Government of Ireland.

So fast forward thirty years and you have a woman who isn’t earning as much as she used to and can no longer afford the high rents of the private sector – what is our valued citizen to do now?

One reader called in who had been renting the same property for ten years but due to changes in the economy – like a lot of us – she fell on hard times. Now the landlord wants her to move out. This reader is having palpitations, she is so stressed. This is a reality for a huge number of women, who are now just entering retirement and have no security or peace of mind. They are vulnerable to their landlord’s agenda and feel cut adrift from the home-owning majority.

Around the Dublin 4 area, there are many properties which are now mostly empty. Would those home owners be prepared to rent out a room to someone in a vulnerable position?

I spoke with Older and Bolder (01-8783623) which is a charity focused on making sure older people are aware of their rights and are treated equally. They are all-too-familiar with this scenario of people renting privately.

Perhaps a man who was separated couldn’t afford a second mortgage, so he rented privately while he was earning good money, or like the case above where women couldn’t get mortgages, unwittingly they find themselves in a situation where they can’t afford the private rent and they have limited access to public housing.

We have changed our attitude to women over the years and now we absolutely need to change our attitude to older people who rent. They are not second class citizens, and we need to make sure they are treated with respect and dignity.