Yesterday evening (October 20), legislation on banning repurposing student accommodation into tourist accommodation was brought before the Seanad.
Speaking in support of the Planning and Development Amendment bill, Labour Party spokesperson on Housing, Rebecca Moynihan said: “Third-level education is becoming more and more inaccessible year after year.”
Moynihan referred to one student accommodation provider who recently applied for a change of use, and was charging €1200 per month for a room, while the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) grant for the entire year is only €3025, “before you eat, travel or buy a book”.
She also highlighted the high concentration of student accommodation in areas including Dublin 8 and Dublin 1, despite no large institutions existing in these areas.
“We don’t want to see lower standard co-living, by the back door, to come in”: Moynihan said.
She continued: “There needs to be a clear line in the sand on this. Developers need to be told clearly that you can’t game the planning system to make greater profits elsewhere.”
She finished her speech by asking the house to support her bill, saying: “Student accommodation should be staying as student accommodation, and do not let developers know that they can game the planning system when it doesn’t suit them.”
Labour Senator Marie Sherlock also spoke in favour of the bill.
A small demonstration attended by Labour senators, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) took place earlier yesterday outside Leinster house.
The Labour bill aims to “restrict applications for change of use of certain student accommodation units, and to provide for connected matters”.
“For a period of 15 years from the completion of development no application shall be made to or granted by the planning authority concerned (…) for change in use of student accommodation concerned to permanent residential accommodation,” or for hotels, hostels and tourist accommodation.
A tweet on Moynihan’s page yesterday evening read: “We need to build cost rental student accommodation in conjunction with our educational institutions. Students and student accommodation is not as a cash cow for under resourced education institutions or a profit bonanza for property investors (until they want to change [its] use.)”