Tourists and renters to be permitted in student accommodation

Change of use of up to 1,600 rooms ‘co-living by the back door’ – Marie Sherlock

The Uninest student accommodation in the Liberties.

The Uninest student accommodation in the Liberties.

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Permission has been granted to convert up to 1,600 student accommodation beds across Dublin city into tourist or short-term worker apartments for the current academic year.

The decision by Dublin City Council to allow five purpose-built student facilities to be used for holiday or general rental was described by Labour Senator Maire Sherlock as setting a “dangerous precedent for co-living by the back door”.

Representatives of the complexes’ owners said demand from students was set to be extremely low for the next academic year and the rooms could provide “attractive and affordable” temporary accommodation in the inner city.

The five facilities, four on the northside of the city and one on the southside, operate under the Uninest brand and were developed in recent years as purpose-built off-campus student housing. Two blocks are on Dominick Street in the north inner city, with one on the North Circular Road and another on Grangegorman Lower, close to the TU Dublin campus. The southside complex is the Tannery on Mill Street in the Liberties.

The applications for the change of use stated that while students continued to live in the schemes, demand had “significantly declined” and the units could provide “an attractively priced alternative in the hospitality accommodation sector” or housing for “employees requiring accommodation on a temporary basis”. Student and non-student residences would be segregated within the development.

Two-month restriction

The council approved the use up to May 31st with a condition that short-term lets would be restricted to two months.

However, Ms Sherlock said continuous short leases could turn student facilities into co-living developments and “dumping” so many additional beds into the tourism sector would have a crippling effect on hoteliers “already having to cope with a dramatic collapse in demand”. There was no evidence of any attempt to lower prices to attract more students she said.

The Irish Hotels Federation said it had “serious concern” over any developments that could “undermine the viability of the hotel and guesthouse sector which has already been disproportionately impacted by Government restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic”.

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