Affordability concerns spark review of Dublin housing strategy

Report from Dublin City Council outlines that housing supply is inadequate and imbalanced

Affordable housing supply in Dublin is persistently “inadequate and imbalanced”, leading Dublin City Council to review its strategy for the development of social and private homes in the capital.

A new report published by Dublin City Council has found that housing supply relies heavily on Dublin’s private rental sector. While the supply of social housing in Dublin increased by 2,684 homes between 2015 and 2017, nearly half of these were rented from private landlords.

Speaking to Trinity News, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) President Shane De Rís explained that Dublin City Council, alongside the government, “must work to increase the availability of student accommodation to alleviate the strain on the private rental market”. De Rís envisions this would have “a knock-on impact on the amount of housing available to families and other sections of society”.

The report from Dublin City Council outlined: “Dublin’s near future housing supply remains inadequate and imbalanced. There is not yet sufficient affordable housing provision for rental or for owner occupation.”

Dublin City Council announced it is undertaking a review of its 2016-2022 housing strategy for Dublin. In the two years since the strategy was published, rapid changes have taken place in the housing market and in government policy, according to the report.

“Dublin needs to deliver greater access to affordable housing across all housing tenures. These issues will be to the fore as we undertake the review of the city’s housing strategy,” the report detailed.

“Dublin City Council is placing an emphasis on options for the public housing finance model required to produce new affordable housing for purchase and rental, and to renew and renovate its existing public housing stock.”

Speaking to Trinity News, TCDSU President De Rís stated: “We welcome the council’s commitment to review their strategy which is obviously failing the most vulnerable in society by failing to provide ‘quality, affordable’ housing as outlined in the strategy. We will be lobbying the council to ensure that students are giving the attention and consideration which is drastically needed in the current student accommodation crisis.”

Last week, the National Student Accommodation Strategy progress report announced that 5,000 new student beds would be made available by the end of 2018. Releasing the report, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor said it was “heartening to see that there is a healthy pipeline of student accommodation projects in train”.

De Rís criticised the government’s announcement as “lamentable” given the high rent rates expected for these beds. “The rates charged by these foreign for-profit corporations serve only to drive prices in other student-purposed accommodation complexes skywards, as seen in Trinity and Shanowen,” said De Rís. “This serves only to further price students out of education.”

The government must increase capital investment funds available to higher education institutions to allow the construction of more purpose built student accommodation, according to De Rís. “Further steps will also have to be taken to ensure that student tenants are afforded the same protections as other tenants under the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB), to prevent the dramatic price hikes witnessed around the country this year.”

Students have taken to the streets over the last year to protest for affordable student accommodation. In March, Dublin City University (DCU) students protested against a 27% increase in student accommodation, with Trinity students joining the DCU protesters in fighting for against the increase.  

Last month, National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway Students’ Union filed a case against Cúirt na Coiribe after the Galway student accommodation provider increased rent rates by 18% for the upcoming academic year.

The decision by NUI Galway Students’ Union file the case came after the Residential Tenancies (Students Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018 passed in May, giving students living in licensed student accommodation “the full protections of the Residential Tenancies Acts, including access to the Residential Tenancies Board and inclusion in the rent pressure zones.”

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.