Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD and Minister with responsibility for Skills and Further Education Niall Collins TD have confirmed a Department of Housing circular has issued in relation to student accommodation.
The circular issued on Friday night to the Chief Executives of all local authorities and pointed to the critical need for purpose-built student accommodation to be available to meet the needs of students in third level education.
The circular confirmed that purpose built student accommodation should not be used for short-term residential accommodation indefinitely, and that it should be safeguarded for use by students and other persons related to higher education institutes during the academic year.
Commenting, Minister O’Brien said: “Minister Harris and I have been liaising on the issue of student accommodation and the challenges students are facing. We have introduced safeguards to protect students in rented accommodation.
“In July we passed legislation so that upfront payment upon the commencement of a tenancy will now be restricted to a total value that does not exceed two months’ rent i.e. a deposit and one month rent in advance.
“This much-needed measure means that students and their families are no longer required to pay a lump sum each term. This restriction applies to all tenancies including for students residing in student specific accommodation.
“A student can make a larger upfront payment if they so wish, by way of an opt-out option, but they cannot be forced to do so. The Bill also provides that the notice period to be given by students in respect of student specific accommodation will be limited to a maximum 28 days’ notice.
“Students in Rent Pressure Zones are also protected by legislation which links any potential rent increases to inflation only, putting an end to the annual 4 per cent rent increases which we were seeing. I am acutely aware that inflation is increasing and my Department is working on legislation to cap the overall amount at which rent can increase.
“The circular issued by my Department on Friday leaves local authorities in no doubt that purpose built student accommodation should be retained for that use where that is appropriate,” he concluded.
Minister of State Niall Collins said: “Student accommodation should be safeguarded for students during the academic year. I want to thank my colleagues Minister Harris and O’Brien for issuing this circular. My Department continues to work with the Union of Students of Ireland on this and other measures to assist students.”
The two Departments will host a meeting of universities over the coming days to discuss the issue of student accommodation generally.
Notes to the Editor
The circular is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/b687d-circular-052021-temporary-change-of-use-of-student-accommodation/