In a recent survey, approximately 1,000 University College Dublin (UCD) students responded to questions from UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) regarding their experience renting student accommodation. 55% of the survey’s respondents reported paying more than €750 every month and this figure rises to 63% regarding student renters (those who do not own or live in a family home). 43% are unhappy with their current living arrangements.

Students also emphasized the effects that these prices are having on their education and daily lives. 43% said that the process of finding accommodation, or problems they are currently experiencing in their accommodation, have adversely affected their education. 57% have experienced a decline in their mental health, while 49% have felt a negative impact on their student experience, both as a result of the housing crisis.

95% of respondents had not had experience with either the Residential Tenancy Board (RTB), Dublin City Council or Threshold, however, students that had interacted with the RTB expressed mixed feelings about the quality of their experience. Some found the process helpful and their problems were resolved, although others were less positive, saying they felt that the procedure was time-consuming and stressful.

When asked what respondents would like to see from the UCDSU to tackle the problem, the most common answers included a fight for cheaper prices, more protests to raise awareness and a campaign to improve the quality of current housing instead of supplying luxury builds. Student renters would also like to see the government implement rent ceilings, develop better student tenant laws and build more affordable housing. 

Many students revealed that they would have liked to have moved out of their family home but cannot afford to do so, and others who are renting speak of overcrowding in their tenancies due to multiple beds put in one bedroom.

Speaking to The College Tribune, UCDSU President Ruairí Power criticized the lack of action being undertaken to help students. “One thing that would be very valuable would be the government expanding their cost-rental trial scheme onto the higher education institutes. That is something that hasn’t happened to date and Simon Harris has indicated that that might be a possibility, but we really need a time frame for when those kinds of trials can be brought into effect.”

“We have had discussions with the UCD president and we are coming to ideological loggerheads. There is no room for compromise in terms of the nature of the accommodation being built. We do not agree with the UCD accommodation strategy. We need to try and galvanise students’ agitation on this issue and try and get a constructive solution put in place by the government.”

Ella Waddington – Reporter