USI: Student accommodation issues “critically and negatively affecting student experience”

The USI outlined key accommodation issues in submission to private rental sector review

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has said student accommodation issues are “critically and negatively affecting the student experience” in a review published this week. 

In the submission, USI layed out a number of issues and recommendations regarding student accommodation.

USI highlighted the lack of rights for students in digs or ‘rent-a-room’ schemes as a major issue. The union  called for the introduction of set standards for digs, including minimum room size and notice periods, kitchen and bathroom access, the right to privacy, and the ability to lock bedroom doors.

The submission also recommends that “rent-a-room” tax relief only be available to landlords who meet these set standards.

USI also recommended that the government attach a “strict definition” of affordability as a condition when providing funding for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to build accommodation. 

USI Vice President for Campaigns, Zaid Al-Barghouthi said: “We welcome the opportunity to make a submission to the review. The voice of students must be heard in this review, as the rental sector and students are inextricably linked. 

“The student accommodation sector is in crisis, but there are solutions that government can take on board to help address this crisis, and we lay out the most urgent of them in this submission”, he said.

“Students are paying extortionate prices for accommodation, while living in situations that either don’t fit their needs or are far beyond what they need such as in the case of the luxury student accommodation that has been built in many cities, which most students could never dream of affording.

Other recommendations in the submission include the implementation of a rent freeze until inflation stabilises and the holding of a referendum to establish the constitutional right to housing. 

Earlier this month Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) published their own submission to the review, criticising “neoliberal housing policies” affecting students in the rental market. 

Charlotte Kent

Charlotte Kent is the Co-News Editor at Trinity News and a Senior Freshman PPES Student.