The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has had enough of unaffordable student rent as they called on the Oireachtas for legislation against rent increases earlier this month.
The USI teamed up with the national housing charity Threshold to outline their stance on two Bills which are currently passing through the Dáil – the Residential Tenancies (Greater Security of Tenure Rent Certainty) Bill 2018 and the Anti-Evictions Bill 2018. The Residential Tenancies Bill would protect tenants from sudden rent increases and the Anti-Evictions Bill would limit the reasons a landlord could terminate a tenancy.
The USI’s Vice President for Campaigns Michelle Byrne represented Irish students at the Oireachtas meeting on February 20th. She called attention to the new Purpose-Built Student Accommodation under development around universities and the fact that the charged rent did not correlate with the amount an average student could afford to pay.
“Last summer we saw increases of up to an average of 19 per cent in one development in Galway and 27 per cent in Dublin,” said Byrne. The Dublin rent increase drew outrage from DCU students who protested the rise to just over €1,000 a month for a room in the privately owned Shanowen Square.
The protest saw students rallying at the gates of Shanowen as well as organising a sleepout. Students at NUI Galway saw similar rent increases in Cúirt na Coiribe which sparked a petition against to retract the increase.
“Students sign a license agreement, not contracts. There is little legal protection for licensees,” said Byrne. This means that the landlords of student accommodation do not have to register with the Residential Tenancies Board meaning that student tenant rights are unclear.
University College Cork is the most recently affected by rent increases having seen a 10 per cent increase, according to Byrne. Threshold launched a ‘Know Your Rights’ event on the UCC campus on February 28th aimed at student renters.
The legislation was initially promised to come into effect last year however it currently needs to pass through three more stages in the Dáil before being seen before the Seanad.