1 September 2022
By Mary Bermingham
As Gardai warn of a spike in accommodation scams, HomeHak offers built-in security with Stripe Identity
A new initiative in Cork is helping homeowners to select students and other tenants for spare rooms, allowing for better control over the process while helping provide income that could offset the increase in the cost of living. HomeHak allows homeowners to select students or professionals from its own tenant database, rather than advertising their properties on public websites. HomeHak uses Stripe Identity for referencing and verification – a first for a platform helping to rent homes in Ireland.
The cost of living crisis and inflation is putting a squeeze on already tight household finances. For homeowners with spare bedrooms, the government rent-a-room scheme allows such income to be tax-free (up to €14,000 per year), but HomeHak makes selecting a tenant easier than ever.
The website, HomeHak.com, connects homeowners with spare rooms, and students or tenants in need of accommodation. It offers a simple and convenient way for tenants to advertise what accommodation they want while also allowing homeowners a discreet way to offer their spare rooms.
The Cork-based tenant database HomeHak said that many college goers are now facing the nightmare scenario of trying to find accommodation for the new term. As the rental crisis rages on, parents and students, particularly first-year and international students, might not have considered the alternative of renting out a room in a family house, with the advantage of cheaper rent, attractive locations and a “home from home.”
HomeHak founder Pat Drinan says there are thousands of empty rooms in Cork City and across the country that students could avail of. He said: “Homeowners might like to benefit from tax-free earnings by renting their spare rooms for medium to long term, but are not comfortable with advertising their home publicly on existing property websites. Instead, they can discreetly enter their property address on HomeHak and assess Tenant CVs one by one before contacting the ideal applicants. Ahead of the new college term, we have already had strong interest from people with spare rooms who want to consider this option, especially since so many students are faced with nowhere to live.”
Úna is a homeowner in Cork who has rented to both students and working professionals for years. She said: “The experience of welcoming people into my home has been very rewarding. It’s lovely to have company in the house, and I think my tenants have enjoyed living in a clean and comfortable home. They have full use of kitchen facilities, laundry etc. I think having a platform like HomeHak that allows you to get to know something about a person before they move in is a great idea.”
HomeHak aims to make the process easier for both homeowners and tenants. The website – HomeHak.com – allows home seekers to create and display their details in the form of a Tenant CV, to be found and selected by homeowners, landlords and letting agents in search of reliable, trustworthy people. Homeowners know something about who they are inviting into their home, thanks to Stripe Identity and a streamlined online reference collection system. HomeHak is free for students to use in their first year, while homeowners can avail of a 30-day free trial, after which they choose to pay a small membership fee.
Emily Egan lived in digs for her final year at DCU and was pleasantly surprised by how positive the experience was. She said: “Some people might see this living situation in a negative light because it feels a little too much like being back at home. For me that wasn’t the case at all. Living in digs gave me the best of both worlds during my final year. I had the option to enjoy nights out with friends or lazy days in, along with all of the other aspects of student life. But at the same time, I could go home to a clean and quiet house whenever I wanted to.”
Another popular feature of HomeHak is the ability for home seekers with similar needs or interests to form ready-made households. Groups such as students in the same course, people in the same profession, or those who work in the same area can join their Tenant CVs and present as co-applicants for a property. This is becoming increasingly popular among students and professionals seeking accommodation.