Students’ union criticises ‘exorbitant’ rents in affluent Dublin areas
College unions refusing to advertise accommodation where students are ‘exploited’
Ailbhe O’Halloran of UCD students’ union says some students are being forced to commute from long distances. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Students’ unions are refusing to advertise some student digs on the basis that that homeowners are charging “exorbitant” rents.
UCD students’ union said it has to refuse offers of rooms for rents from householders in some of the most affluent areas of Dublin’s southside.
Rooms in student digs in the capital are generally available from between €450 and €550 a month.
However, Barry Murphy, UCD students’ union president, said: “We’ve had homeowners in places such as Ailesbury Road and Killiney looking to rent out spare rooms to students for anything between €1,000 to €1,100 a month.
“Some of them seem to think students should be privilged to live there . . . As far as we’re concerned, they’re taking advantage of students because they know demand is far outstripping supply.”
Mr Murphy also said some homeowners were also seeking to attach mandatory conditions requiring students to leave their homes on weekends.
Others, he added, said wanted students to complete certain jobs, such as mowing the grass, walking the dog or cleaning the toilets in return for small discounts on the rent.
Jobs for discounts
“We generally just turn these offers away on the basis that you can’t expect students to return home every weekend. We’re also against anything that requires students to do jobs in exchange for discounts on rent. Students have enough on their plate as it is,” he said.
Maynooth University students’ union has also refused to advertise some accommodation on the basis that some landlords were trying to exploit desperate students.
The students’ union president Leon Diop posted a message on social media criticising a landlord for seeking €600 for accommodation in Maynooth. He said he told the landlord he would remove their advert from the students’ union accommodation page unless the price was lowered and made more “affordable”.
The hunt for student accommodation has hotted up this week after more than 50,000 students received their CAO offers.
The bulk of on-campus accommodation has already been snapped up, with students forced to look for digs or the private rental market.
While the Government says an additional 3,000 purpose-built student accommodation units have come on stream in the past year, students’ unions say the bulk of these are “luxury” apartments which are out of the price range of most students.
Many have been built by multinational property firms, specialising in student accommodation, and charge between €1,000 and €1,500 a month.
Last weekend, students protested at the official opening of a new privately owned student complex at New Mill in Dublin’s south inner city.
Students from DCU Students’ Union and the Union of Students in Ireland held a demonstration with posters calling on the Government to build affordable accommodation.
In response, Global Student Accommodation (GSA) – which owns the new complex – said there were thousands of students in Dublin with differing expectations.
Aaron Bailey, GSA’s development director for the UK & Ireland, said: “We believe that we offer exceptional levels of service, but as a sector, we must always be asking ourselves whether or not we’re offering value for money. The private sector will keep trying to fill the accommodation void in Ireland, but ultimately we must ensure that we’re meeting the demands and expectations of the students we serve.”