Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) and University College Dublin Students’ Union (UCDSU) have launched a joint digs campaign to address the “severity of the housing crisis”.
Members of both unions campaigned in Dublin City today, encouraging people walking by to consider renting a room in their homes to a student this academic year.
Properties in areas close to the universities or with public transport links to the universities will also receive leaflets from the unions encouraging them to rent out a room.
TCDSU President László Mólnarfi told Trinity News the union decided to partner with UCDSU “due to the severity of the housing crisis”.
“Each year, once September comes around, students are left dropping out of education, couch-surfing or sleeping in cars,” he said.
“We are asking homeowners to rent out a spare room for students and save a student’s education.”
“We are doing this not because we want to, but because we have to – we don’t think digs are the ideal accommodation, but it is sometimes the only option left for students.”
Speaking at the launch of the campaign, UCDSU President Martha Ní Riada said homeowners with a spare room “can make a real difference to a student’s ability to pursue their education”.
The Rent-a-Room Relief Scheme allows homeowners to rent out a room in their house to a tenant for up to €14,000 a year tax-free.
Both Molnárfi and Ní Riada urged homeowners availing of the Rent-a-Room scheme to treat their tenants fairly.
Ní Riada said those renting out a room should rent it out for the full week, as offering it for only five days a week is “unsuitable for many, in particular international students”.
“Students need somewhere safe to stay and we’d urge anyone availing of the Rent-a-Room Relief Scheme to ensure that the lodger has access to appropriate facilities and isn’t subject to onerous conditions,” she said.
Molnárfi said digs “have a lack of protections”.
“You have as many rights as a hotel resident, in fact even less, and are not protected from arbitrary rules, rent increases and evictions,” he said.
The TCDSU president said the Government “has no solutions” to housing shortages in Ireland.
“They are the government of the rich, of vulture funds, of multinational corporations, and they pursue a neoliberal economic policy, putting the provision of housing in the hands of the private market,” he said.
“Housing should be a human right, not a commodity.”