As students return to campus across the country for the first time in 18 months, many have struggled to find housing.
In Limerick, a number of students are currently staying in hotel rooms, as they cannot find alternative accommodation, RTE have reported.
Mary Immaculate College Student’s Union (MICSU) has made a deal with three hotels across the city of Limerick to provide accommodation for students.
Students are paying up to €390 a week for five nights in these hotels. The union has come to a similar arrangement with a hotel in Thurles, where the college has a smaller campus.
This is the first time that MICSU has worked with hotels to provide students with accommodation.
MICSU President Roisín Burke told RTE that they are appreciative that the hotels were open to taking students.
However she noted that “there just isn’t enough suitable housing”.
“There needs to be living spaces built that are suitable for students, not just for profit for landlords.”
After 18 months without many students taking their traditional place renting market due to remote learning, the accommodation shortage is reported to be significantly more extreme than in previous years.
Mary Immaculate College’s accommodation manager, John Randles, cited a major decrease in families offering ‘digs’ housing to students, as Covid-19 has brought in more caution about the practice.
In August, the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) encouraged students to be aware of their rights as renters.
The statutory body regulating renting in Ireland issued a five-point “student rental checklist” ahead of third-level institutions reopening in September.
First, the RTB said renters should never pay a deposit or sign an agreement before viewing a property, and ideally multiple properties to allow for comparison.
Second, the RTB reminded students that there are minimum standards and requirements for rental properties, such as the availability of hot and cold water and that they should ensure any accommodation advertised meets those standards.
Third, renters should always get a dated receipt when putting down a deposit for a rental. The RTB notes that it is not legal to ask for more than one month’s rent as a deposit.
It’s also not permissible for tenants to be required to pay more than one month’s rent in advance, the RTB says.
Fourth, the organisation is encouraging everyone to be aware of rent pressure zones (RPZs), which are areas in which rent can not be increased at a rate greater than that of inflation.
The RTB has an RPZ calculator which allows people to see if their accommodation is in such a zone, see how much the rent was for the previous tenant, and verify they’re not being overcharged.
Finally, the regulatory body says students should stay informed of their rights as tenants via the RTB website and to get in contact if they have any questions.
Many campuses across Ireland opened their doors for the first time since the beginning of pandemic last Monday September 6 with restrictions varying across colleges.