Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) have published their submission to the Government’s public consultation as part of a policy review of the private residential rental sector.
The Union criticised the “neoliberal governance” that has influenced policy in the area over the past decade and put forward a number of proposals to the sector in order to mitigate the problems faced by third-level students and staff in securing adequate, affordable housing.
In the submission, TCDSU stated: “We have seen the students and staff of academia bear the brunt of neoliberal housing policies carried out by the government.”
“This has made housing both scarce and expensive, leading to the housing crisis. Students and staff are struggling and being pushed into homelessness.”
“The private rental sector is unfit to meet the housing needs of people due to its volatile nature, ever-more expensive and unable to cater for [sic] long-term renting,” it affirmed.
The union said that the government had failed students “immensely”, with the ongoing housing crisis producing a “two-tiered student experience” between students who live close to campus and who can partake more proactively in College life, and those who are forced to commute long distances and thus forfeit College-based activities.
Declaring that housing “should not be left up to market forces”, a number of policy proposals were outlined in the union’s submission, including a ban on no-fault evictions, rent controls, and ensuring a constitutional right to housing via referendum.
TCDSU also called for state investment in public housing, a levy on vacant homes as an incentive for property owners to sell or rent out such properties, and legislation on the regulation of ‘digs’ accommodation.
The union also declared its support for a number of bills being put forward by political parties, including People Before Profit’s Rent Reduction Bill (which was defeated in the first stage by Dáil votes in June 2022 and April 2023), and Sinn Féin’s recent proposal to ban ‘sex for rent’ schemes.
“We as the student union see each year the terrible impacts the housing crisis has on students,” the submission said in its closing remarks.
“Students are voters too and the government would do well to remember this as the election period looms.”