Thursday 25 May 2017

CAO offers to spark a worsening house crisis

New students start accommodation hunt tomorrow as shortfall continues

The housing crisis is due to get even worse this week as college offers are released tomorrow, pushing thousands of new first-year students into an already flooded rental market. Stock photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
The housing crisis is due to get even worse this week as college offers are released tomorrow, pushing thousands of new first-year students into an already flooded rental market. Stock photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Patrick Kelleher and Wayne O'Connor

Students and their parents are being hit by an enormous accommodation shortage as rental prices continue to rise.

The housing crisis is due to get even worse this week as college offers are released tomorrow by the Central Applications Office (CAO), pushing thousands of new first-year students into an already flooded rental market.

As of the end of July, 80,887 students had applied for college courses through the CAO, a record number of applicants.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has estimated that student numbers would continue to grow year-on-year until 2024, leaving thousands of students in the lurch as adequate housing is not available.

The cost of student accommodation is making finding a suitable place to live even more challenging for students and parents.

Ziggurat Properties, who run a specialised student accommodation site near UCD, are charging a minimum of €245 per week for a room.

That price will get a student a 'classic room', which provides an en-suite bathroom, as well as a bed, desk, chair, noticeboard and bedside locker. However, at these prices, students and their parents will be spending almost €1,000 per month on rent.

Read more: USI asks 100,000 homeowners to rent out spare rooms as housing crisis hits students

UCD's on-site accommodation ranges from €5,721 to €7,929 per year, including utilities. The cheapest option works out at €635 per month.

In comparison, NUI Galway's lowest rate is €3,105 for a twin room, working out at €345 per month; however, this excludes utilities. The price is €4,335 for a single room, and all students pay an extra charge of €675 for utilities.

There are also fears that desperate students will rush into paying a deposit on a house, leaving them open to housing scams.

UCD student Rebecca Hart told the Sunday Independent that she and four of her friends were scammed out of almost €4,500 by a con-artist posing as an elderly couple living in the UK.

"They go to estate agents' websites and take the properties off their websites. So every property that this couple are supposedly 'renting' is for rent [by somebody else], they just don't own it," she said.

Meanwhile, student groups are encouraging homeowners to rent out rooms in their houses to students as a stopgap solution to the shortage.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) distributed 100,000 flyers last week to homeowners in a bid to secure housing places for students.

Annie Hoey, USI president, said that they are aware of the challenges students are facing and advised them to stay calm.

"We are more than aware of how difficult this is," she told the Sunday Independent.

"Accommodation and the cost of fees are putting a very heavy strain on the student and very often their family or a close relative. I think the Government is becoming acutely aware of this as well.

It comes after the University of Limerick issued an appeal for 'digs' landlords to come forward to help with the growing demand there.

Institutions outside of Dublin are seeing a huge rise in the number of prospective students as incoming first-years look to avoid the housing crisis in the capital.

Sunday Independent

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