Finding accommodation, specifically in Dublin, has always been a challenge for students. If you are not part of the fortunate few who secure a spot on College campus or Trinity Hall, students have to undertake the lengthy, stressful and often overwhelming task of searching for a place to live — a task which has become even more difficult for the 2022/23 academic year. From spending hours upon hours scrolling through Daft.ie to putting up Instagram stories begging for a room to stay in, it is clear that students in 2022 are struggling to find a place to call home.
The housing crisis in Ireland is not a new dilemma, with problems arising in the housing market in late 2007. However, in 2022, the issue has not been resolved as rent prices have risen to an all-time high. The average rent in Ireland today is €1567 per month which is over 50% higher than the cost of rent in 2008, during the peak of the Celtic Tiger, which was €1030 per month.
The housing crisis has had a devastating ripple effect on student accommodation with students being hit hard by unreasonable rent prices and a lack of availability of rental properties. According to a press release from Daft.ie, “nationwide, there were just 716 homes available to rent on August 1” on their website — less than 300 of these properties were in Dublin. This is the lowest figure the website has ever seen since it started carrying out its reports in 2006.
“The housing crisis has had a devastating ripple effect on student accommodation with students being hit hard by unreasonable rent prices and a lack of availability of rental properties.”
Speaking to Trinity News, one student explains that “realistically no landlord wants to rent to students. They think we are all messy, or would just have parties 24/7 but that’s not the case. We are just desperate for somewhere to live. I just want to be able to go to college every day, it should not be this difficult.” The student goes on to say how “if there are only 300 properties to rent in Dublin, the number [of properties] that would be open to renting to students and is located centrally and at a reasonable price is slim to none.” This adds even further difficulty for a student to acquire accommodation as there is a limited selection of options available to them.
“Realistically no landlord wants to rent to students.”
TCDSU has recognised the student accommodation crisis in an open letter to College, highlighting that there is “next to no accommodation available in the city” with “students looking to drop out, defer, commute long distances or arrive in Dublin homeless.” The Students’ Union proposed a hybrid-learning model for the year going forward to ensure that students who could not get accommodation would still be able to access their education. They also stress that Trinity College should engage in increasing the availability of safe student accommodation.
Once again, there has been a delay in the allocation of CAO offers to incoming first-year students, an unnecessary hold-up as the 2022 Leaving Cert examinations and corrections were not affected or altered by COVID-19. The SEC delayed the release of the Leaving Cert results to allow for deferred sittings of exams for those affected by COVID-19 and due to a shortage of teachers able to correct the examination papers.
Many incoming Junior Freshmen from around the country and abroad live in Trinity Halls in Dartry, an accommodation exclusively for first-year students. However, not every candidate who applies to live on Dartry Road is successful. Students have been rejected from Halls in previous years, but luckily were able to secure a privately run accommodation however, due to the crisis, this year students may not be as successful. If a student doesn’t secure a spot in Halls, they may look at other privately operated student accommodation as they are a fantastic way to mingle and meet fellow students. An incoming Senior Freshman student tells Trinity News that they “started looking at accommodation options for this year in around May or April,” as they were “aware that accommodation got booked up super fast” and wanted to ensure they had somewhere to stay. However, even though they began to look for accommodation before the 21/22 academic year finished, they were still rejected from 3 privately operated student accommodations stating that “they had already been booked up before the year even started.” This is concerning for many incoming students as it raises the question, where do the unsuccessful Halls applicants stay now, given the extremely short notice and lack of availability?
There are a number of privately run student accommodations located around Dublin City. Kavanagh Court, an independently run accommodation that has a nomination agreement with Trinity College is fully reserved for the 2022/23 academic year. Other student accommodations such as Binary Hub, Point Campus, Hubble Living and Scape are all fully booked for the academic year. It can cost a student over €950 per month to live in a cluster room in an apartment in one of these privately owned accommodations. A Junior Sophister student who is commuting to college this year explains “I could never live in one of the [private] student accommodations, they’re simply just too expensive.” They go on to highlight how lucky they are to be able to commute to college, stating “I am really lucky that I am able to get to and from college every day easily but I have heard stories of people having to travel literally halfway around the country just to go to college, it’s ridiculous.”
Another student questions why College does not have more accommodation available for students. The incoming Senior Fresher student says “I wish Trinity had more [accommodation] options available for us. Halls felt so comfortable and safe…having to search for somewhere to live has been quite stressful for me.” They go on to explain, “living in Halls was honestly the most fun I’ve had and I wish that it could continue on and there was a Halls for 2nd and 3rd year. We built such a fantastic community and really got to know one another. It would also save myself and so many other students from the stress of looking for somewhere to live.” Every student can apply for on-campus accommodation in UCD, unlike Trinity where this is exclusively for final-year students.
There has been a call from Labour spokesperson for Further and Higher Education Annie Hoey to protect students from soaring rent prices. Senator Hoey called to introduce legislation that would protect purpose-built student accommodation and stop developers from turning these accommodations into apartments for tourists. Senator Hoey and the Labour Party came out in support of the Union of Students in Ireland’s (USI) proposal for legislation to be put in place to protect student accommodation.
Ultimately, the student accommodation crisis is a direct consequence of the housing crisis which does not seem to be improving any time soon. There is no clear solution to the problem. Provost Linda Doyle has acknowledged the accommodation crisis, stating that “we are robbing this generation of a proper college experience.” Similarly, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris noted that the current student accommodation situation is “not adequate” and he has not believed “that it was adequate since I started this role.” So this raises the question, why has something not been done to remedy the issue yet? Harris announced that the government will invest money to “build college-owned student accommodation” however, by the time, if ever, this is completed, it will be too late for many students.