Lack of housing for Galway students 'worst it's ever been'
A lack of housing in Galway City could mean that students won't be able to find a place to live for the coming academic year, according to property agents.
Eugene Fahey, of City Property Services, said that the housing situation in the city is at the worst stage that he has ever seen it.
"We've about 95 properties for students every year, and there's only five left. Last year there were stories of people sleeping on couches and this year it's definitely going to be a lot worse," he said.
Local councillor, Terry Flaherty, said there is a property crisis in the city because of a lack of social housing being built.
"It's not just students, but people on rent supplement that are looking for houses and they're finding it very difficult to get a house," said Ms Flaherty.
"There hasn't been a local authority house built in seven years," she said.
Galway is facing a problem similar to Dublin, where a lack of suitable, affordable accommodation is leading to increased prices, with new students in the city unable to find a place to live.
National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) has 17,000 full-time students. Typically students rent out private accommodation in the city or rent at one of the student villages surrounding the NUIG campus.
However, with the lack of housing in the city, property agents are warning that they will go elsewhere to college they can't find suitable accommodation.
In order to address the issue, Winters Property Management, one of the biggest letting agents in the west of Ireland, is trying to revive the government's rent-a-room scheme near NUIG.
Under the scheme, homeowners can rent out rooms in their in their house to people and avail of up to €12,000 in tax-free rent.
The property agents, which manage a number of the student villages near NUIG, are hosting an information event next Tuesday to raise awareness about the scheme.
Enda McGuane, Managing Director with Winters, said that it's approaches like this that are needed to ensure that first year students attending college for the first time find a place to live.
"The clear picture is that there is an increasing shortage of available accommodation, not just in Galway, but in all of Ireland," he said.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) are also promoting the rent-a-room scheme and recently launched their Homes campaign, which tries to link up households renting out rooms to students who are looking.
"There was a very definite demand for that service in Galway," said Kevin Donoghue, President with the USI.
Last year, the USI had offered over 500 homes on its service in Dublin.
Independent.ie is awaiting a statement from Galway City Council and NUIG.