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Efforts Made To Alleviate Student Accommodation Crisis

The latest progress report of the National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS) has been
released, including reports on the creation of 7000 new bed spaces and a new 4% annual cap
to minimize rent increases, similar to the already established, Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs).

The NSAS is the official government strategy for creating more student accommodation,
following a growing shortage in Dublin and other Universities. Established in 2017, the plan
aims to have about 20,000 student beds by 2024 in Ireland, having constructed 7000 so far. In
comparison, UCC’s on-campus accommodation consists of about 6000 beds altogether.

The introduction of rent increase caps is long-anticipated, with the lack of regulation of rent
where student accommodation is concerned being a contentious issue with students. Some
Dublin private accommodation facilities increased their rent by up to 25% last year, and UCC’s
on-campus accommodation increased in cost by 11.5% for the 2019/2020 year, just before the
introduction of the 4% increase cap, which will come into effect from August onwards.

“I welcome the continued increase in availability of student accommodation,” said Mary Mitchell
O’Connor, Minister for Higher Education. “The National Student Accommodation strategy was
designed to increase supply and so assist in moderating rental costs for students. As the figures
show the strategy is working and we are on track to exceed the target set at the outset.”

The additional space and rent increase caps are welcome news, especially in Dublin and other
rent pressure areas like Cork City, where the rising cost and dropping availability of student
accommodation has been a pressing issue. A large amount of accommodation is already
booked before the release of the CAO results, making it particularly difficult for first-year
students to secure accommodation.

Steps have been made to include student accommodation in Rent Pressure Zone regulation
and tenant protection law. At the moment, accusations have been made of student
accommodation being exploitative, with less legal protection for student tenants than other
renters.

The NSAS has been criticised by student activists and Students’ Unions, who have argued that
the focus has been on creating “luxury” student accommodations, which are profit-focused and
are aimed at wealthier international students rather than lower-income Irish students. The Rally
for Affordable Housing, a protest held between UCC and CIT, focused on the high prices of
Amnis House, a student housing complex on Western Road costing over €200 per week.
UCCSU president Ben Dunlea has called for cheaper prices and more government intervention
in rent control, saying, “[Companies] know students have few options other than to pay”.

“Students don’t want luxury accommodation, and accommodation being built is overpriced and
not sustainable for them or their families to afford,” said Aoife Duff of the Union of Students in

Ireland (USI). “What comes up time and again is the need for affordable, secure
accommodation.”

The project also rolled out €14,000 in tax relief for homeowners renting out rooms as “digs”,
which students have been urged to take up as a cheap alternative to student housing. However,
the USI and student unions have warned against digs, which provide no tenant rights or legal
protection to renting students.

Tenant’s rights workshops are available from the UCCSU, and the University is available to help
with housing disputes and queries.