Bleak future for students renting
A new academic year is getting under way with Fresher’s week now behind us and the hard work, late nights and friendships of a new University year are about to begin. Thankfully for most of us the awful process of hunting for accommodation in Dublin is over for another year.
This is a difficult and often stressful process at best but it is being made even more difficult by rising rental prices and unscrupulous landlords taking whatever they can from incoming students.
If you are not one of the lucky few to be given a room on campus you will be preoccupied with finding accommodation before term starts. So will several thousand others. The news over the past few months has been particularly bleak for renters, students in particular, as they descend on Dublin in their thousands looking to make a life for themselves.
Newspapers, TV, radio, blogs and word of mouth are all carrying similar messages; renting is difficult and expensive. Since January prices have been gradually increasing. According to a recent report by Daft.ie, rental prices have risen by an average of 7.5% across Dublin.
This statistic was seized upon by the Irish Times with the shock headline ‘rent increases a ‘massive concern’ for incoming students’. How this increase is spread across the city is less clear, although it seems likely that the main increases will have been in central and popular student locations, such as Dublin 4 and 7.
From my own experience of viewing rooms, I have seen that even the most unlikely of places will capitalise on any positive and use it to bleed the most money out of unprepared students. One property I visited in the mature residential area in Glasnevin, sandwiched in between Hillcrest park and DCU, charged an average of 600 euro a month, including bills. Even at first sight this seems expensive, however on viewing the room available the price seemed positively absurd. The advert had requested women only.
This didn’t seem strange until it emerged that the house was inhabited by four men in their early thirties. The house was in the process of renovation, i.e. not really appropriate for human habitation. It did not have central heating, a lock on the bedroom door or even a proper bed.
Damp was rising up the walls, filth was ingrained in the kitchen and tiny bathroom and there was a general lack of usable white goods. Although this is at the upper end of the spectrum, many of the other places I viewed in the first ten days were no better. It seemed as though I traipsed through the very worst this city had to offer and it is easy to fall to the temptation of snapping up the first place with four intact walls and a ceiling.
In general this is an OK tactic, however in my case I ended up living with an over friendly alcoholic and my house hunt continued for another week or so. Another hurdle for the incoming student is that it can be surprisingly difficult to even get to the viewing stage. At best one in ten landlords respond quickly to emails and many of those who do, do so because they are desperate to find a tenant, often because their property is one of the ‘un-inhabitables’.
You may have a little more luck if you have an Irish number and know your way around the city, but for those moving to Dublin from abroad this is just another hurdle to finding decent accommodation. With prices continually rising, it is difficult for prospective students to budget accurately and it looks set to get even harder for next year’s students.
After searching the council website, there seems to be little regulation on rental properties and even if there is, it is obviously not being well enforced. With Dublin’s Universities also not maintaining a database or reliable landlords and properties, the rental future for students looks bleak.