Challenges of paying for student accommodation
Talking to other students, Nick looks at the difficulties of student accommodation across Ireland
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The biggest obstacle students face when moving to college is finding somewhere to rent. According to Daft.ie’s quarterly Irish Rental Price Report, accommodation in Dublin for the first quarter of 2018 is now approximately €1,824. With figures reaching above those of the Celtic Tiger times, people in Dublin are now spending 30% more annually than before the last rent peak in 2008.
As the average price of rent can exceed the cost of the property’s mortgage, students are having to find ways of getting rent down to reasonable prices.
“The house I am currently in is three bedroom and costs €1800 a month. But this is too expensive for three students so we are using the living room as an extra bedroom and splitting the rent four ways. The landlord has no issue with this, as the previous tenants did the same. When I advertised the rooms on the DCU accommodation pages there was immediately a lot of interest, most of the messages were very desperate and people seemed to be really struggling to find places,” said Christine McGearty, a second-year Physics student in DCU.
The reality for most students, is to rent rooms in family homes. The average rent on a single room in Dublin City is €654. While Limerick is the cheapest (university city) to rent a room at €388.
The difficulty Ireland’s students are facing is the chronic lack in properties available to rent. In February 2018, there was 3,143 properties available for rent in Ireland, the lowest figure since the records began in 2006. Dublin accounts for 1,350 of these properties. However, this figure has dropped dramatically since 2009, when 6,700 properties were available to rent. This has priced some students out of Dublin.
“The only undergraduate neuroscience options were either UCC or UCD. I was more familiar with Dublin than Cork, and I also knew more people going to Dublin. However, the price of accommodation in Dublin essentially made the decision for me,” said Lee Kavanagh, a third-year neuroscience student in UCC.
Around Ireland we see developers excited by this student accommodation boom. Mill Street in Dublin 8 saw 400 student rooms opened in September 2017. The price for these start at €260 per week for the basic ensuite and go as high as €380 per week for the “Delux studio”. Paying for the accommodation is only one obstacle students must overcome. There is also the issue of finding the properties and getting in there first.
“I found my current accommodation through a friend and contacted the landlord 6 months in advance to the house becoming available. To stand a better chance of finding accommodation you need to start looking halfway through the academic year in preparation for the next. Our lease, like the majority, is yearlong. Which means students have to pay rent on a room they might not be using for 4-5 months of the year,” Christine said.
However, Dublin is not the only county experiencing this squeeze on finding affordable student accommodation
“Last year I tried the student village Glasan like a month or so before college started and it was already completely full, that's 500 houses. So, I got Tír Na gCapall another GMIT student accommodation. When I was there the people who lived above me had a guy sleeping on their sofa. I got lucky with my house this year I saw a post on Facebook shared by a girl I know and managed to get that house that I'm living in now. I didn't even view the house just said yes because I knew I wasn't going to get anything better,” said Liam Byrne, a second-year student in GMIT
“Finding accommodation in Dublin city was genuinely a nightmare. From unreliable landlords, potential house-mates and scamming emails,” said Elisa Valadez, a first-year art student in NCAD.
After going through all the protocols of searching for student accommodation Elisa attended an open viewing for an apartment in Drumcondra. “I headed up for the day and the minute I arrived, I knew straight away it was a waste of my time. There was over 50 people queuing. I waited in the que with mothers, children and other people that have moved over to Ireland. The real estate agent just looked confused when I told her I was a student with no references.”
Not only that, but after getting put in contact with a landlord, Elisa thought the search was over and was happy with the price of €500 for a two-bedroom apartment. However, after a few weeks the landlord got back to them saying that one of the rooms could ‘easily’ fit three people and the price had gone up to €625. “We eventually got a reply from the landlord we were recommended and he completely changed the prices. The apartment had gone up to 625 euro per person and it was also a five-person apartment instead of four,” Elisa said.
The Higher Education Authority said in 2015, there will be 10,500 new beds in Ireland specifically for students by 2020. Of these, 8,000 will be in Dublin. There are currently three new student accommodation sites across Dublin; Dorset Point, Kavanagh Court and The New Mill (There is also a 407-bed facility being developed). As well as this, there has been five requests for planning permission in Dublin City Centre for purpose built student accommodation. If these all go ahead it will free up lots of homes in the private rental sector that can then go to other families in need, somewhat easing the current housing crisis.
The situation for affordable student rent in Dublin has reached emergency levels. Rent prices continue to rise year on year and the amount of properties available are falling. This, essentially the core problem, a supply and demand. A problem that may only be solved by building more houses in our already bursting capital.