Students have difficulty finding accommodation

Student groups have described the search for accommodation this year as the worst ever due to rising rents and a shortage of …

Student groups have described the search for accommodation this year as the worst ever due to rising rents and a shortage of suitable properties near the main colleges.

It is only three days since students got their first-round offers, but some colleges have already filled their on-campus accommodation. For example, University College Cork has no more spaces, its accommodation officer said yesterday.

One of the consequences of the shortages is that students are being forced to live farther from their colleges than ever before, according to the Union of Students in Ireland. It said some students would have to cover huge distances to get to college from October.

USI's accommodation officer, Ms Alison Gibney, said there was "near-hysteria" among students at present because the stock of student housing had reduced sharply over the last year.

"Many landlords are converting accommodation that was previously earmarked for students into luxury apartments, which are out of the range of students," she said. She added that landlords in newer apartment complexes in Dublin had shown little interest in offering accommodation to students.

However, the Irish Property Owners' Association (IPOA), which represents landlords, said rents were the same as last year at an average of about £65 per week per person.

A spokesman, Mr Fintan McNamara, said the only factor that might be reducing the stock available to students was the number of EU nationals and asylum-seekers looking for similar accommodation.

This is the first week of students looking for accommodation, and queues to view properties tend to be long at this stage, particularly in areas like Rathmines in Dublin.

On Wednesday hundreds of students queued in Galway to get a copy of the Galway Advertiser, which has details of local properties. Students compete to be first to contact the landlord.

According to Ms Margaret Faherty, accommodation officer with University College Galway, there is an increasing shortage of houses and flats in the city. This, she said, was due to the lengthening of the tourist season.

The University of Limerick is holding its student accommodation open day today where landlords willing to rent to students will be available at their properties.

UL's accommodation officer, Ms Frances McNamara, said this had always been a popular way of finding a house in Limerick but the pattern had changed somewhat this year. "Students don't seem willing to wait any more," she said.

All on-campus student residences at University College Cork are now full, according to its accommodation officer, Ms Maura O'Neill. At this stage, she said, most Cork students will be at the mercy of the private rental sector, which is becoming very competitive in the city.

The director of student services at Dublin City University, Mr Barry Keogh, said 31 on-campus rooms became available due to students pre-booking a room, but subsequently not being offered a college place, but these were "swallowed up" by the waiting lists.