Saturday 24 February 2018

Thousands of students begin scramble for rooms as rent crisis bites

  • New college students could miss out on dream courses

  • Rents reach a new high for the fifth consecutive quarter

  • Chronic shortage of rental accommodation

  • Thousands of students begin scramble for rooms

  • Are you affected? Comment below or email us contact@independent.ie

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Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Students face the prospect of missing out on their dream courses in college because of a chronic shortage of rental accommodation.

The rental squeeze is at its worst in Dublin, and students whose families do not live in the capital will struggle. But across all of our major cities, rental costs have hit a new high - for the fifth quarter in a row.

Meanwhile, the supply of accommodation is at an all-time low as more than 50,000 students turn their thoughts to going to college.

The shortage of student rents is adding to the existing problems across the entire housing market. Many students will be unable to find somewhere to live during the academic year unless their families already live near university, and they can stay at home.

Thousands of students have just begun the scramble for somewhere to live as the academic year is about to start.

This comes as rents have risen nationwide by almost 12pc in the year to June 2017.

The average monthly rent nationwide is now €1,159. This is up €122 a month since last year.

UCD student union leader Katie Ascough and her counterpart at Trinity College Dublin, Kevin Keane, said large numbers of students risked being unable to take up courses.

They called on more homeowners to avail of a scheme that lets them rent out a spare room for up to €14,000 a year tax-free.

"If this scheme doesn't see a rise in take-up, many young people relieved after their Leaving Cert results are going to have their spirits crushed," they said.

They claimed major collective action from a range of stakeholders was necessary to help these young people.

The three-month period up to June was the fifth quarter in a row that a new all-time high has been set, according to the latest rental report from Daft.ie.

However, the rate of rental inflation had slowed slightly from the start of the year.

But in Dublin rents are rising at a rate of 12.3pc, and are now 18pc higher than the peak seen in 2008. It costs €260 more a month to rent in Dublin than it did when the downturn hit almost a decade ago.

There were just 2,930 properties available to rent on the first day of August, the lowest level ever recorded.

Busiest

Economist at Trinity College Dublin and author of the 'Daft Report' Ronan Lyons said the start of the academic year in September traditionally meant that July and August were two of the busiest months for the rental market each year.

"In the last two years, however, there has been no summer rush of properties to rent. In a market with such chronically deficient supply, it is therefore unsurprising to see rents reach a new high," Mr Lyons said.

He said rent controls were helping sitting tenants, but making the market tougher for those looking for a new home.

In the past year, the monthly cost of renting in Dublin has gone up by €186 to €1,707.

A separate report today finds that while confidence levels have improved hugely and the outlook in 2017 is largely optimistic, students continue to struggle to cope with the pressure of third-level costs.

Two-thirds say financial worries are negatively impacting their overall college experience - almost on a par with the height of the recession in 2011.

There has been a notable increase in the numbers saying they have to work throughout the college term to help make ends meet, according to the Irish League of Credit Unions.

Two-thirds are working, reporting an average of 21 hours a week for a weekly wage of €231, compared with 14.5 hours per week for a wage of €145 in 2011.

Almost a quarter of students who work in 2017 say they are skipping lectures to do so (22pc).

Speaking this morning on RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, Mr Lyons added; "You can't solve a supply shortage by pretending it doesn't exist.

"The rents going up is the signal that a shortage is there.

"Every year, 18,000 new dwellings are needed and, if we were building these from scratch, about a third of these would be social housing.

"That's the scale Dublin alone needs to see. And it is only seeing a tiny fraction of that."

My Lyons also said the cost of building is high in Ireland relative to our incomes, and compared to other countries.

He said student accommodation is urgently needed but he does not think various levels of government "fully understand the scale of the need."

Meanwhile, homelessness charity Simon Community said stronger measures are needed to stabilise rents and enhance tenants' security. National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities Niamh Randall said; "The soaring rents and plummeting supply within the private rented sector must be constantly monitored and addressed.

"These issues are preventing people from finding and sustaining affordable homes within the rental market.

"This in the fifth quarter in a row that a new rent high has been set.

"There was only a slight slowdown in inflation since the final quarter 2016, the highest on record," she continued.

"The introduction of RPZ’s unfortunately did not go far enough given the depth of the crisis, we need measures which impact all tenancies and limit rent increases within all tenancies. 

"Full rent certainty and security of tenure are the building blocks for a stable rental sector and we renew our call for their urgent introduction."

Irish Independent

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