The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has offered its support for a Sinn Féin bill that will expand the Residential Tenancies Act to provide full protection for students engaged in licenses with student-specific accommodation services. Backing for the new legislation follows protests from the Dublin City University Students’ Union (DCUSU) and the National University Ireland Galway Students’ Union (NUIGSU) regarding rent increases.
Students attending Dublin City University (DCU) next term face increased accommodation costs of up to €9,000 while recent student protests at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) took place as a result of a €1,000 rent increase by the accommodation provider Cúirt na Coiribe.
Speaking ahead of the Dáil discussion, President of the USI, Michael Kerrigan said: “This spike in rental costs is making student accommodation and higher education unaffordable for students, and is pushing them back into the already overcrowded private rental sector and away from third level institutions.”
Kerrigan also said that if passed, this type of legislation will force “student accommodation providers” to comply with “the rent pressure zone legislation.” Kerrigan added, “It’s time we stopped treating students like cash cows.”
Despite the implementation of 4% rent restrictions in late 2016, “differences in regulation” of private accommodation, have enabled providers of, “purpose-built student accommodation”, to avoid regulation. As a result, the USI has called upon policymakers to propose new legislation that applies to purpose-built student accommodation owned by both college and the private sector.
The USI recently took part in a housing march organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition. Delegations from the grassroots student activist group, Take Back Trinity, were also present at the march. Previous to this, Take Back Trinity activists were present at DCUSU protests against student accommodation increases in Shanowen Square and Shanowen Halls.