Sunday 15 September 2019

Black mould, long commutes and living in hostels- the true price of the student rent crisis

Gabija Gataveckaite

Students have spoken out about living in hostels and damp houses with black mould as rent costs are hiked up in areas surrounding colleges.

Annie McAleer, who is an arts student at NUIG, lived in a hostel for her first two years of university.

She explained that at peak times there would be up to 80 students staying at the hostel, which caters towards stuck students.

“When I received my CAO offer for the course two years ago in mid-August, all the accommodation was gone,” she said.

“All that was left was Monday to Friday digs, but these didn’t suit me as the costs of travelling home to Dundalk every weekend would be too high.”

There were two bunk beds per room and as the hostel was in a central location, the rent was €520 per month.

“My grant was €336 per month and so I took out a loan just to cover accommodation costs and I took up a job in

second year,” she explained.

Deputy president for education at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) Students’ Union Victor O’Loughlin, who will be going into his final year of college, said he is now paying approximately €500 a month for a double room.

As he lives closer to NUIG, he said that the rent costs are higher than those in the city centre. “It’s a lot of money for me right now, it’s a lot of money for students – and as a sabbatical officer, I’m on a

salary,” he said.

“I have to commute for 40 minutes on the bus every morning.”

He said that over the past several years, he has faced many challenges when it came to renting a room.

“I used to live in a room in a house which was so damp that I woke up one morning and the pillow was completely soaked.

“In another house, there was black mould on the walls and we used to have to wash it down.

“We used to have to leave windows open and it was warmer weather so it dried down a bit.

“The landlord then upped the rent by €200 per room and we had to move out.”

He explained how Galway has become increasingly more costly, with prices comparing to Dublin more so each year. “Galway is just becoming completely unaffordable,” he said.

“I’m willing to predict it’ll be on par with Dublin in a few years.

“Unless purpose-built student accommodation is built in Galway the situation won’t change.”

The latest Daft.ie rent report shows that rent costs in Galway and Cork, home to some of Ireland’s biggest colleges, are now reaching Dublin

levels.

An Irish Independent survey earlier this month revealed that all universities have hiked up the cost of university-provided student accommodation for the incoming

academic year.

Welfare officer in University College Cork (UCC) Students’ Union Naoise Crowley said the scale of such hikes could be “questioned ethically”.

“An increase of 11.5pc is

absolutely massive,” he said.

He said Cork is well on its way to having rent costs as high as those in Dublin.

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