Emails between a Fianna Fáil councillor and her student lodger revealed in the media this weekend show that urgent legislation is needed to cover digs accommodation and not just the ‘guidelines’ that Minister Simon Harris is currently championing, says the Union of Students in Ireland.

The emails from Cllr Deirdre Conroy show that the French student who was in Dublin for a summer internship was told not to cook in the kitchen, to wash plates in the bathroom sink and that the €260 a week rent was “very low”.

USI had previously been contacted by the Department of Further and Higher Education about the preparation of guidelines for digs and rent-a-room situations but has decided not to engage as it’s legislation that is needed.

USI President, Chris Clifford said: “USI has been lobbying for proper legislation to give students living in digs accommodation proper renters’ rights. We have been saying that guidelines are not enough. And this story is a perfect example of why. If we can’t even trust an elected representative for a party that is in government to treat students in digs properly, then how can we trust anyone to follow ‘guidelines’. Students are paying over a lot of money for a bed to sleep in while they put themselves through college or complete necessary internships and they deserve to be treated like any other renter. We will not put up with politicians essentially saying ‘stop, no student rights here’ any longer.”

In June, Minister Harris said in the Dáil that he “would like to get to the stage where we have national guidelines on digs,” but USI says that is simply not good enough and will step up our campaign for the introduction of proper legislation for students renting a room in private accommodation.

USI also encourages every student to make sure they are registered to vote in next summer’s local elections. You can check the register or register online here.