One-third of students are unsure whether they are tenants of licensees, raising concern that many students may be “unclear on their rights within their homes”, according to a new report from Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU).
The TCDSU Housing Survey Report 2023/24 was launched this evening in the Arts Building by union President László Molnárfi and Housing Rights Officer Siubhán Stockman.
32% of respondents were unsure whether they are licensees or tenants. Additionally, the report noted 35% of respondents who said they were tenants live in campus or private student accommodation, meaning that they would be licensees.
Asked whether the union has any plan to raise awareness among students as to the difference between licensees and tenants, Molnárfi highlighted the union’s partnership with the Community Action Tenants Union (CATU).
The findings are based on a survey of 857 students conducted by the union. 673 respondents were undergraduates, while the remaining 184 were postgraduates.
According to the report, two-thirds of student renters in College have gone into financial difficulty in order to pay rent, while nearly 40% of undergraduates live at home with their families.
28% of students pay over €1,000 in rent a month, with the majority of those paying €1,200 or more in private student or rental accommodation.
Among students paying rent, 49% work to pay, with 72% of these people reporting that this has had a negative impact on their education.
Two-thirds of renters also rely on family members to help them pay rent.
Students living in campus accommodation, who made up just under one fifth of respondents, reported the most positive experiences of renting.
The most negative experiences were reported by homeless students and students living in temporary accommodation, followed by those living at home or in student digs.
The report also included a number of testimonials from students living in unsafe and unhealthy environments including mould and pest infestations.
“I have had rats, mice and a fly infestation. I am extremely clean, and have all my food in
containers, but it’s just that the building is so old, any kind of vermin or insect can get in”, one student reported.
“I have also had neighbours that have threatened me, locked me out of the building, and
engaged in antisocial behaviour, but any time I reported it to the landlord, he wouldn’t
believe me”, the respondent continued.
Speaking at the launch this evening, Molnárfi said the survey was not conducted for Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien or the current government.
“It is for us – students, staff, trade unions,” he said. “To show what we have been saying for so long is true with statistics.
“We know very well the ministers and this government know the struggles we are facing, they just don’t care.”
He noted the costs students pay in rent and the amount they work to make ends meet is “utterly unforgivable”.
“Students deserve to have to have social lives,” he said. “We are not robots, we are people.”
TCDSU Housing Rights Officer Siubhán Stockman said she hopes that report brings to light “the extent of the housing crisis as experienced by Trinity students”.
“We will continue to resist the profit-based housing system, and fight for an alternative based on justice, solidarity, and hope”, she added.
The union have called for the restoration of an eviction ban, rent reduction, universal public housing and a ban on sex for rent.
The survey also found that non-European Union postgraduate students were the most affected by high rents, with 74% reporting getting into financial difficulties. This demographic also reported the highest rents and the greatest difficulty in the accommodation search.
Of those living at home, 61% said it was having a negative impact on their student experience, while 79% of those commuting for over an hour (23% of overall respondents) reported the same.
Overall 73% of respondents working to pay rent, commuting, or living at home, said that their experience is having a negative impact on their education.
Earlier today the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) criticised the government for “engaging in smoke and mirrors” in regards to student accommodation by “announcing and reannouncing the same ‘news’ and ‘policies’ without any concrete plans or information”.
Additional reporting by Ellen Kenny.