UCD Students’ Union calls for return of landlord tax relief

Body says scheme aiding conversion of accommodation can ease rental shortage

Students on the UCD campus in Belfield. The president of the UCD Students’ Union has said tax reliefs for landlords should be reintroduced to try to ease an accommodation crisis for thir-level students. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times.

Students on the UCD campus in Belfield. The president of the UCD Students’ Union has said tax reliefs for landlords should be reintroduced to try to ease an accommodation crisis for thir-level students. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times.

Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 12:49

A tax relief for landlords that was phased out after the collapse of the housing market should be reintroduced to help tackle the student accommodation crisis, UCD Students’ Union has said.

The Section 50 scheme, which allowed developers claim tax relief against expenses on construction, conversion or refurbishment of student accommodation, was abolished in 2012.

It was one of a number of tax reliefs, known mainly as Section 23 schemes, widely blamed for exacerbating the housing bubble.

But Feargal Hynes, president of UCDSU, said the Government should now to re-introduce the scheme in the forthcoming budget.

“We are well aware of the reasoning behind the abandonment of the scheme in the past but the reality is that we are at crisis point in the student accommodation market at the moment,” he said.

“This scheme, we believe will allow students in the future to rent affordable, clean and safe housing while providing a secure option for both developers and those investors who want a consistent return on their investments.”

The union points out that the Government is seeking to increase the number of international students here to 25,000 by 2015, and with changing demographics domestically, urgent action is needed.

The Section 50 scheme, devised by the Department of the Environment and Local Government and the Department of Education in 1999, “ensured that student housing was of a safe, well-designed and comfortable”, said Mr Hynes.

“The re-introduction of the scheme will not only be of benefit to the economy but will also, in the long run take students out of the normal rental market thus hopefully reducing rapidly increasing rent across the board.”

From an education perspective, he added: “We fear that should this problem continue Ireland’s educational reputation will be hurt worldwide and Government targets will not be met, thus damaging our international rankings.”

The union is also calling for Nama to release housing specifically for the student market, which again “will have the effect of taking these students out of the normal rental market in Dublin thus hopefully deflating the price for both the student and normal market.”