Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the government to support a Sinn Féin Bill that will provide protection for students in student accommodation by bringing them under the Residential Tenancies Act and give them access to the Residential Tenancies Board.
Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday evening the Louth TD highlighted the difficulties faced by students attending the Dundalk Institute of Technology.
Gerry Adams said:
“The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018 is a comprehensive piece of legislation that will give students in student accommodation the protection of the Residential Tenancies Act. It will allow students access to the Residential Tenancies Board and ensure that they are included in the rent pressure zones.
“If the Dáil really believes in access to education at all levels then all obstacles must be removed so that our young people, in particular, can reach their full potential and that includes student accommodation with decent rents and conditions.
“In my own constituency of Louth USI representatives at DkIT tell me that the lack of affordable accommodation is affecting the numbers able to take up courses. Accommodation and its cost can also badly impact on educational attainment and course completion rates.
“In its 2017 student accommodation report, Cushman & Wakefield reported that there were sixty thousand students chasing thirty-five thousand spaces. It is estimated that this number will increase to almost seventy thousand students looking accommodation in the next 5 years.
“The reality is that there is not adequate student accommodation, especially in border constituencies like Louth.
“A year ago there were 11 student accommodation projects under construction, ten of these are being built by private developers. This means that this is seen as an opportunity for profit.
“For students it is a nightmare as they try to find somewhere to stay and pay exorbitant rents. Most students at DKIT can expect their current student accommodation to cost almost 500 euro a month, with many paying significantly more than that. This is generally for a single room.
“We know that in Dublin the costs are even greater with some students being expected to pay over 900 euro a month in rents. The Residential Tenancies (Student Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018 is one way of tackling this. It does what it says on the tin. It’s about including student licences under the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act.
“This ensures that properties in the affected areas are covered by the rent pressure zones and provides access for those living in student properties to the Residential Tenancies Board. It’s a common sense proposal that has been welcomed by student’s groups. It can assist students to stay in full time education by ensuring that they are not being charged exorbitant rents”.