Copley Court has had to cancel the bookings made by students due to a need for renovations.
Up to 150 students in Cork have been left with no accommodation for the coming term after having their bookings cancelled, despite placing deposits down as far back as April.
1st Choice Properties will not be able to rent a number of its Copley Court apartments on South Mall out to students until January. However deposits will be returned to the students.
It is believed that the majority of the students are from Cork Institute of Technology’s School of Music, with others studying at UCC’s Centre for Architectural Education which is situated close to the apartments.
This has left students such as Conor Brassil without any accommodation with the new academic term just six weeks away. Mr Brassil, who is studying in CIT's School of Music, posted on Facebook earlier this week about the issue:
"This is not what we need before returning to college after 2-3 months of believing we will be okay to come back in Cork with a place to live."
According to CIT Students’ Union President, Shane Falvey, Copley Court, “went into receivership last March and 1st Choice Properties were only informed in the last few days, so in fairness they haven't had much time to react. The building was put under new management in March."
A spokesperson for 1st Choice Properties said the realisation that the building wouldn’t be fit for students was, "very recent, it caught us by as much surprise as others." There has been no further comment so far despite repeated attempts to contact the company.
Speaking to Campus.ie, Mr Brassil explained his frustration:
“It is more the fact that we are being left in the lurch. Six from the group of 19 or so of my friends were contacted. They are closing the building during peak time to 'renovate' and this is all we have heard and it's coming from the main office. There's no working with them to find new properties, and it will be difficult to find new accommodation.”
Brassil also mentioned that there were rumours over whether help may be offered by their neighbours, the UCC Students’ Union, after an “emergency” meeting was held by the university’s Students' Union.
However, UCCSU President Aidan Coffee clarified that the meeting discussing Copley Court was in fact a regular scheduled meeting discussing accommodation.
“The meeting was a normal one, no SU wants to see students out in the cold, but as far as I'm aware, there has been no word on that,” Mr Coffee said.
CITSU President Shane Falvey told Campus.ie that, "It's a very unfortunate situation. I've spoken to 1st Choice Properties about the situation and it seems the insurance company says these renovations have to take place.
“We will work with the accommodation office in Bishopstown to give them any assistance, although some of them have been very proactive and I believe arranged viewings quickly after finding out.”
Brassil was indeed one of the students who organised viewings for new accommodation once he realised he would not be able to stay at Copley Court, but has found it difficult so far.
“I viewed a new house, but there was damp in the kitchen. Particularly if you’re a music student with equipment you can’t have that, although for any student they shouldn't have to live in a damp kitchen,” he told Campus.ie.
Mr Falvey said this showed the need for student accommodation in Cork as well as saying that CITSU’s focus will be on helping the students suddenly left without accommodation.
“This shows the need for more student accommodation in Cork, for everyone no matter what college you’re from.
“Our priority though is getting students alternative accommodation. Of course, some space should appear soon since people pre-book accommodation when doing their CAO forms, so accommodation should become free when some of those people realise they may not be coming to Cork at all in September.”
Niall Horgan of Threshold Cork, which provides support for tenants, advised to Campus.ie that if students struggle to regain their deposits, they should contact Threshold.
“If they're getting their deposits back then that's fine, but of course they'll need to get them back quite quickly so that they can use them for the next accommodation. If any of them have problems getting their deposits, they can contact Threshold and we'll help them.”
Threshold Cork can be reached at 0214278848.