UCD Student Union are forecasting a huge problem in affordable student accommodation this Autumn, with most paying over €750 a month
With the ongoing housing crisis and the rise in the cost of living, getting accommodation for the 22/23 academic year may be more difficult than ever. For years now, Dublin students have been campaigning for a change in the way students access housing, they are arguing for rent freezes, more grants, and expanded protections from evictions. None of this has happened and as the years have rolled on, the situation may turn from crisis to catastrophe.
The Dublin Gazette spoke to Míde Nic Fhionnlaoich, UCDSU’s Welfare Officer and Marc Matouc, UCDSU’s Graduate Officer, about the upcoming semester and how student accommodation has been dealt with in the past.
“Things have become increasingly abysmal for students, over the last few years,” said Marc. “It has become more and more difficult, to find any form of accommodation here and a lot more of what they are trying to get is being squeezed out.”
Míde continued: “We did an accommodation survey last year to get students feelings on the ground and over half of respondents said that looking for housing had a negative impact on their mental health and half said it had a negative impact on their studies, while most were paying over €750 a month.
“Moving into September, things are looking grim and getting grimmer. We saw it after COVID, people are struggling more than they ever had before finding somewhere to live. There has been no concrete action from the government to stop it from getting worse.”
Míde highlighted that the government has the power to help alleviate this problem: “A rent freeze or a cap on rents would help. On top of that, we need a new student accommodation strategy. We’ve been promised one by Minister for Further Education, Simon Harris, but we don’t have any timeline for when that’s happening, so we don’t know if it’s coming in one year or maybe two years. Students need help now, they actually needed it five years ago.
“On top of this, many students live in digs, they aren’t technically licenced, so they have no rights that tenants would have, which means that students can be out on their ear with no notice evictions and with no legal recourse or protection. When Simon Harris asks people to rent out the spare rooms in their houses to students, this means that we may be placing students in an incredibly vulnerable living situation. Something has to be done about that.”
Marc continues by giving a message to students looking for accommodation in September: “We ask that every student know their rights, to be aware of what you have at your disposal, because you do have a lot of legal options. Be self-aware, but know that you are supported and that the Students Union is more than happy to take any enquiries or requests in helping you as best we can”
Míde concludes with one last piece of advice: “Things are grim and really not fair and we are angry about it and you have a right to be angry about it. That means that when we are fighting on these issues, that we really want your voices to be heard. We really want you to be able to come out and say what your struggles are, what you want done, and demand the change we need, because we need change.”
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