Parents buying properties for students amid rental squeeze, says Cork agency

Huge competition for accommodation with little time between exam results and college term

University College Cork said in a statement it was acutely aware of the challenges facing students in securing accommodation, particularly those entering their first year of study. Photograph: Getty Images

University College Cork said in a statement it was acutely aware of the challenges facing students in securing accommodation, particularly those entering their first year of study. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A real estate agency in Cork has reported that parents are buying investment properties in the city in order to secure accommodation for their teenagers who are due to attend college locally later this year.

Mark Rose, managing director of Rose Properties, says that certain sectors in Ireland have an abundance of cash and are using it to purchase properties for their children when they reach university age.

“There is a colossal amount of wealth in Ireland. The parents of students are now buying properties instead of just renting them.

“I have sold a lot [of properties] without then even going on the market because the tenant parents have bought them.

“In the last year there has also been the start of a conversation about negative interest rates.

“That is driving money out of bank accounts. It is starting a flight of cash out of bank accounts.”

Rose says that money is being spent on high end student apartment blocks in Cork which are being rented out.

However, he feels that the apartments are mainly being snapped up by parents of wealthy international students attending University College Cork and are often out of the price range for anyone renting on a budget.

Meanwhile, managing director of Choices Letting Agency, Cormac Aherne, says that parents will have their work cut out to obtain accommodation for first-year students with such a short time between the Leaving Certificate results and the start of the academic year.

Aherne’s agency does not work in the student lettings department. However, he has noticed that properties which were once traditionally rented out to students are now housing older people.

“In many cases what was originally student accommodation has come out of the time when it had to be for students and they are renting to the professional market rather than nine-month student lets.

“Generally companies providing student accommodation are the new purpose-built student accommodation. They are the ones charging a few hundred euros a week.”

Aherne says that competition for lettings is huge right across the market in Cork. They had a unit go up online on Tuesday. They had to take it down the following day after receiving 60-70 enquiries.

Meanwhile, the days of college Zoom classes might be nearly over but the delay in publishing the Leaving Certificate results is causing anxiety for students in search of accommodation.

Eva McDonnell (18) who attends school in Ursuline Secondary School in Blackrock in Cork city is looking forward to a ‘normal’ first year in college. Photograph: Olivia Kelleher
Eva McDonnell (18) who attends school in Ursuline Secondary School in Blackrock in Cork city is looking forward to a ‘normal’ first year in college. Photograph: Olivia Kelleher

Eva McDonnell (18) who attends school in Ursuline Secondary School in Blackrock in Cork city is looking forward to a “normal” first year in college with her dream being to study pharmacy in Trinity College in Dublin.

At the moment she is trying to keep her focus on the forthcoming exams but the quick turnaround time to find accommodation arising out of the late results is a niggling worry.

“I am hoping to get the points for pharmacy in Trinity. It is kind of stressful. I have Queen’s University in Belfast as a back up at the moment.

“I won’t have long with my CAO offer before I have to apply for that one [Queen’s]. What if I need to wait until my second round offer?

“Accommodation is always a mess. I have a provisional booking in one place but I am hoping to hear from Trinity Hall.

“Every other student is in the same boat so fingers crossed. I am ignoring [the accommodation issue] for the moment and looking to the exams.”

Reuban Murray, president of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union, says that having a one- or two-week time frame to source accommodation is going to be really difficult for first-year students.

“The pressure of that turnaround is going to be really tough for students and we need to have a viable solution. Many students have to have their accommodation paid for on the 25th of August and their results aren’t coming out until September 3rd.

“Their offers aren’t coming out until one or two days afterwards. It is important for students to be able to recuperate their money and get accommodation elsewhere if they don’t get their first choice.

Murray says it has been a “very trying and stressful year”. He adds that the Department of Education needs to work with students to address the impact of the late results on the already stressful scramble for accommodation.

“If we don’t do anything it’s a problem. Right now we can do something so lets do it.”

Deirdre Falvey, accommodation officer at Munster Technological University says that “very small numbers of private landlords are available” to the college for student lettings in areas surrounding the campus in Bishopstown on the southside of Cork city.

Falvey says the college always recommends that first years at MTU rent student apartments. The apartments are not owned by MTU but by private companies.

Falvey says as its stands companies are looking for half a payment in August or September.

“Campus accommodation has also always held some [bookings] aside [for first years]. But you still have to put down a booking fee.

“They are not going to hold accommodation until September and be left with a load of empty places and parents aren’t going to pay if they aren’t sure they have the place.”

Falvey says some pressure is being eased locally with new student apartments, Melbourn Point, opening in September. This property will provide 342 new student beds through a range of shared apartments and contained studios.

UK student accommodation operator Global Student Accommodation Group (GSA) has been chosen to manage the property which is located close to MTU.

Meanwhile, UCC said in a statement it was acutely aware of the challenges facing students in securing accommodation, particularly those entering their first year of study.

“Campus Accommodation UCC’s purpose-built accommodation at the Crow’s Nest site is due for completion in May 2022 and will add to the number of student beds available close to campus. Campus Accommodation UCC is holding 45 per cent of its rooms for first years which is equivalent to 565 rooms – an increase of 10 per cent on last year’s allocation of first-year spaces.”

The university said its first year accommodation placement service would commence the day first round CAO offers were issued. This service is available to incoming first year students that will be travelling to the university from more than 45km away.