Ensuring that only landlords who meet standards legislation can claim rent-a-room tax relief and setting a definition for ‘affordable student accommodation’ are just two of the recommendations made in the Union of Students in Ireland’s submission to the Review of the Private Residential Sector.

In its submission, USI says that the serious issues with student accommodation are critically and negatively affecting the student experience in Ireland.

These issues include the failure of the current National Student Accommodation Strategy, the complete lack of rights for those living in digs or rent-a-room situations and the heavy reliance on the private sector which has not met the affordability and security of tenure needs of students.

USI Vice President for Campaigns, Zaid Al-Barghouthi said: “We welcome the opportunity to make a submission to the review. The voice of students must be heard in this review, as the rental sector and students are inextricably linked. The student accommodation sector is in crisis, but there are solutions that government can take on board to help address this crisis, and we lay out the most urgent of them in this submission.

“Students are paying extortionate prices for accommodation, while living in situations that either don’t fit their needs or are far beyond what they need such as in the case of the luxury student accommodation that has been built in many cities, which most students could never dream of affording.”

Some of the key observations and recommendations in the USI submission to the Review of the Private Residential Sector are:

  • A strict definition of what accounts as ‘affordability’ when it comes to Government providing funding to Higher education institutions for such accommodation.
  • Not exempting Government funding for HEIs from VAT, which results in a sizeable portion of these grants being given back to the Government, which we are told is a cause behind a lot of uncompleted student accommodation projects.
  • The disparity between what institutions are willing and able to provide and what they are given funding to provide. DCU has planning permission to build 1,240 units and is only being providing funding to provide 405 of these.
  • An affordability framework to be introduced for all Private-Built Student Accommodation.
  • A rent freeze until rent inflation stabilises.
  • Legislation for introduction of minimum standards, minimum notice periods, and protections for tenants in digs or rent-a-room schemes, where landlords can only get the rent breaks in these are met, with a nominating body for dispute resolution.

The full background and details of USI’s observations and recommendations can be read in our submission below.

USI’s Submission to Review of the Private Residential Rental Sector