By Trevor Quinn
East and south Mayo have an unprecedented shortage of houses and apartments for rent with just a handful listed as being available on Monday last.
One auctioneer, who stressed the crisis is the worst he has ever seen, said the scarcity of rental properties has been exacerbated by a large number of people from Leinster searching in the west.
There were just two houses and two apartments in the entire Charlestown, Ballaghaderreen, Swinford, Ballyhaunis, Kiltimagh, Knock and Claremorris areas following a search on the Daft.ie website. One of the properties, a four-bedroom detached home on the Ballyhaunis Road in Charlestown, was available for €950 per month, while a two-bedroom apartment in nearby Ballaghaderreen was €850.
Elsewhere, a two-bedroom apartment in the Silverbridge estate in Claremorris was priced at a whopping €1,400, while a three-bedroom flat in Swinford was available for €850.
The prices in east Mayo and Claremorris are higher, in some instances than similar-sized houses and apartments in Sligo town and Carrick-on-Shannon.
Ballaghaderreen-based auctioneer James Kilcoyne said he recently advertised a house for rent in the area and received 120 emails within a three-day period.
“There aren’t many rental properties around and I have people who are constantly on to me, asking to be contacted if something comes in.
“If I was looking for a house to rent it’d be hard to get one tomorrow morning within a 20-mile radius of here and that’s scary.
“If you were changing employment and you were moving it’s a nightmare and especially for anyone with a family and kids.”
It’s understood some landlords in Ballaghaderreen have received a raft of emails and calls from people in Dublin with no connections to the area looking to rent properties.
Mr Kilcoyne said he has noticed a much bigger influx of buyers from Leinster and other parts of Ireland, as well as foreigners.
“I recently sold a house in Aughalustia here in Ballagh’ to a French couple with a child. Both of them are working from home in the IT sector.
“Covid has changed a lot of things and working from home means people can work anywhere so let’s flip the coin and ask why pay hundreds and hundreds of thousands for a house in Dublin? Or if you’re fortunate to own a house in Dublin and you don’t have a big mortgage out you can sell it and come down the country and buy something for half the price.
“So that’s what’s happening and I’ve seen lots of people selling and moving west.”
Mr Kilcoyne said he is also aware of many local students who are struggling to obtain accommodation.
“I know many of them are commuting and some are booking into hotels in Galway or Sligo for one or two nights because they don’t have anywhere else to stay. I’m 44 and those problems never existed.”