The housing crisis in Ireland is getting progressively worse as the years roll by. More and more families are becoming homeless, especially ones with small children. The housing market is in an obvious tailspin, clearly without direction or leadership, but what does this mean for the third-level students of Ireland?
We all know someone with a horror story from their time in digs, and most of us will experience a nightmare landlord at sometime in our lives, but the accommodation issue for university students is becoming a crisis. To gain a better understanding of what the current situation means for students I asked UCC Student Union Deputy President, Kelly Coyle what the main issues are.
When it comes to the housing crisis, Kelly says the clear problem is shortage of livable dwellings as well as sky high prices for homes that are only barely habitable. Undergraduate students are often taken advantage of by landlords due to their age and perceived immaturity. Due to high rents and lack of university accommodation in large cities, many students from further afield must either pay exorbitant prices to commute every, thus losing out on an active social life as well as other university experiences. Some might have to take on full time jobs to pay for transport or living costs, which places undue stress and burden on themselves and their college work. In the worst case scenario, some students may have to defer or reject a course offer because the reality of being a university student has become so expensive in recent years.
But who is to blame? The government? The landlords? Or the private companies? There’s no definitive answer but landlords increasing rents due to shortage of housing is one of them. A massive boom in third-level students but no infrastructure to accommodate them could be a factor in the current state of the housing market, as well as landlord and private companies interest lying only in monetary gain and not the welfare of the students living in their accommodation.
So what can students do besides staging sit down protests and writing petitions? Kelly says that if you as a student feel your landlord is being unreasonable or you have any questions about the housing market as a student, you can visit www.threshold.ie to find out what can be done about your situation, as well as making sure you fully understand any leases you’re signing regarding rent agreements and the like.
Kelly says there is a light at the end of the tunnel though. She predicts there will be a significant decrease in housing prices in about 3 to 4 years time once the infrastructure has time to catch up with its current demands. UCC is planning more student accommodation developments and there are hopes that the government will introduce legislation that will stop landlords from skyrocketing rents at a whim. For the time being however, it appears that the supply and demand for student housing is unsynchronised and only time will tell if housing crisis will be a thing of the past.
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