No Protection for Students from Profiteering Rent Hikes.

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Dáil Issues, Education, Housing & Planning, Students

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the recent 27% year on year increase in rent at a student residence (details supplied); and his plans to address exorbitant rents in the student accommodation sector. (Details Supplied) Shanowen Square Student Residences, which accommodates students from DCU. bringing rent per annum to €8,695, a sum so high that it runs the risk of driving students out of education.

REPLY

I am aware of the recent price increases for purpose built student accommodation in certain private developments.

The Government’s housing strategy, Rebuilding Ireland, seeks to address the current shortage of housing supply. The National Student Accommodation Strategy (NSAS) which I launched in July 2017, together with the Minister of State for Higher Education and the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, is an important element of this framework and was developed in response to the particular issues affecting student accommodation in light of the pressures which currently exist throughout the rental sector.

To date, 2,687 additional bed spaces have been provided since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland. As of end March, 2018, there were an additional 5,842 bed spaces actively being built, with over 2,570 of these due to come on stream for the 2018/2019 academic year and almost 3,270 the following year.

Work is being progressed to address the supply of purpose built student accommodation.  In the interim, the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government are working with The Union of Students Ireland to support the #HomesforStudy campaign which promotes the provision of ‘digs’ accommodation for students as an alternative to both purpose built student accommodation and the general rental market.

The Interdepartmental Working Group on Student Accommodation has been asked to assess the impact of licence arrangements on residents of purpose built student accommodation.

QUESTION

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 17 April, 2018.

* To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the recent 27% year-on-year increase in rent at a student residence (details supplied) in a rent pressure zone, bringing total rent per annum to €8,695; and his plans to ensure that rent caps of 4% per annum apply to purpose built or contracted student accommodation.

– Clare Daly T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 17 April, 2018.REPLY

Rent Pressure Zones have their legal basis under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, as amended.  This legislation regulates the landlord-tenant relationship in the private rented residential sector.  Pursuant to section 3(1), this Act applies to every dwelling that is the subject of a tenancy. The provisions of the Act, including those provisions providing for the rent pressure zone measure, does not apply where the dwelling is occupied by a person under an arrangement which is not a tenancy.

Licensing arrangements such as those that apply to some types of student accommodation are not covered by the legislative protections of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, because they are not deemed to be tenancies for the purposes of the Act.  Consequently, the restrictions on rental increases in Rent Pressure Zones, provided for in the Residential Tenancies Act, do not therefore apply to accommodation types that are not normally subject to tenancies.

However, if there is any doubt as to the type of arrangement in place, whether it is a tenancy or licence, the matter should be referred to the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) for a determination.

I understand that the Department of Education and Skills (DES) are to examine the case for inclusion of purpose-built student accommodation within the Rent Pressure Zone legislation, including through the forum of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Student Accommodation which is convened by DES.