College’s student residences office have agreed to extend the due date for rent by a week after students were hit with hundreds in late payment fees, according to Welfare and Equality Officer Chloe Staunton.
At least dozens of students were notified yesterday by Academic Registry that they owed a €212 late payment charge on top of rent which was overdue since April 1. Students who spoke to Trinity News said they had received no prior warning that this charge would be applied.
In an email to Trinity News, Staunton said: “I spoke to Residences and Academic Registry and they have agreed to extend the deadline to pay accommodation fees by one week. Students should expect an email from Residences shortly about this.”
It is not yet confirmed whether students who have already paid the late charge will be refunded, and further clarification is expected on this.
Last month, students who were overdue on their rent received notice of two weeks that a late payment fee would be charged if not paid by March 31. No similar notice was given this month and the charge was applied on April 12 without warning.
The due date for rent was April 1, the same week that many final year students’ capstone projects were due.
A fourth year resident of Goldsmith Hall who spoke to Trinity News said that the charge has been applied during “the most stress ridden time in my degree”.
“I am paying an extortionate amount to live in Goldsmith Hall and the fact that the College will happily add more to this amount without regard to the precarious financial situation of their students is very saddening.”
“This fee has put a dampener on my final weeks at Trinity,” they added.
Another echoed this sentiment, saying: “This is the most stressful time of year for almost all fourth years, meaning it’s not surprising lots of people forgot to pay their rent – especially when College doesn’t send email reminders to do so (something they could do very easily).”
“Students should be sent at least one email reminder to pay their rent before they are charged a late fee at all, not to mention such a substantial late fee.”
They added that the fee “shows a complete disregard for the academic and financial pressure most of the residents are under at the moment”.
“Like most fourth years, who make up the majority of campus residents, April is incredibly stressful for me because of my dissertation, exams, and coursework. That’s definitely not helped by the cost of living crisis that makes paying rent already stressful.”
A fourth year living in Botany Bay said that their failure to pay their rent on time was an “honest mistake owing to the amount of work I was putting into my capstone project” and would have been paid immediately had a reminder or warning been issued.
“However, I can no longer afford to pay the additional late charge on top of my rent and I’m worried that my non-ability to pay this late fee will incur further late fees.”
While they acknowledged their mistake in not having paid their rent on time, the student said that the application of the charge without warning was “extreme given these circumstances and the already high cost of living in Dublin with my bill now standing at about €1750 due immediately for April and May rent”.
Another Botany Bay resident called the late payment fee “ridiculous, particularly in the context of rising living costs”.
“Students are struggling to get by and yet we are slapped with another exhorbitant fee that we have to pay. €212 could easily pay for my groceries for an entire month,” they continued.
“This is just another example of the university ruthlessly exploiting students, without considering the difficult financial situations they may be facing.”
Staunton has also urged students who are experiencing financial difficulties that affect their ability to pay their accommodation fees on time to contact the student residences office at [email protected] to flag their situation.
The charge was also applied to students living in Trinity Hall (Halls). One first year resident said that while they had also been late last month, no charge had been applied, noting that it was “weird that [College] only charge the late fee at the end of the academic year”.
Some students have been notified of a late charge despite having paid their rent on time. While they have assumed this to be an administrative error, they worry that debt on their account may interfere with their ability to receive their results on time.
“My main frustration is that they’ll take a while to correct it and this could impact me getting results on time… it [would be] annoying to have to sort it out despite not being late.”
The €212 fee was also applied to Scholars, who are exempt from rent, on late utilities charges. One student was charged a €212 penalty on an €135 unpaid charge.
One student added that the charge was “particularly ridiculous” on a week in which College are “restricting residents’ access to their own homes” due to Trinity Ball.
“Why am I paying so much money and not even be able to come and go to my own home as I please.”
In an accommodation report published by Students4Change this week, students living in College accommodation complained that they are “not treated like an adult in any capacity by the accommodation services”.
Staunton lastly highlighted that the students’ union “are aware of the ongoing utility issues in Printing House Square and have been working to rectify them”.
“As I type this, the TCDSU President Gabi Fullam is in a meeting with the Provost and Director of Residences to push for a reduction in utility rates for affected students. We believe students who did not receive working utilities should not have to pay for them.”
This article was updated at 16.15 to include additional student testimony.