USI asks 100,000 homeowners to rent out spare rooms as housing crisis hits students
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is sending letters to 100,000 homes this week to encourage owners to rent out spare rooms to students.
The move is a part of a wider campaign to combat the ongoing accommodation crisis, which is having an impact on thousands of students ahead of the college term.
Students have been seeking accommodation in all the major cities for weeks, and many are having difficulty in finding suitable lettings.
The USI has launched a website, homes.usi.ie, for homeowners to advertise rooms for students to rent out.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Annie Hoey, president of the USI, stressed they were doing all they could to help alleviate the challenging circumstances students were facing.
She said: "We are more than aware of how difficult this is. Accommodation and the cost of fees are putting a heavy strain on the student and often their family or a close relative. I think the Government are becoming acutely aware of this as well.
"Digs are important for both the landlord and the student. For the student it means they have somewhere warm and safe near the vicinity of where they're studying. But also for the prospective landlord, they can rent out their rooms for up to €12,000-a-year tax free."
As of the end of July, 80,887 students had applied for college courses through the Central Applications Office (CAO), a record number of applicants.
The CAO is due to make offers of college courses to students on Monday, which will lead to a further influx of first-year students into cities.
School-leavers are being advised to be particularly cautious of potential scams as reports surface of students who have lost sizable sums to con artists posing as landlords. The Irish Property Owners' Association (IPOA) has warned students to be vigilant.
Stephen Faughnan, chairman of the IPOA, said: "It is alarming that students may be conned by a person purporting to represent our sector.
"This is a rare occurrence, but to prevent it happening we appeal to students to make sure your landlord is a member of the IPOA or a licensed letting agent."
The IPOA recommends that students ask their landlord for their IPOA membership card and to inspect the property before handing over money.