Anyone heading to college this month is aware of the dire housing shortage.
There have even been reports of people changing course just because they can’t find anything
to live close to their chosen university.
With over 240,000 third stage students starting or returning in the next few weeks, the situation is not improving. And grade inflation in recent years, along with the provision of additional college places, has exacerbated an already chronic situation.
Josephine Feehily, chair of the new TUS university (formerly Athlone and Limerick ITs), told an Oireachtas education committee that given the lack of on-campus accommodation, the region is entirely dependent on the private sector.
The Ukraine crisis, she added, has exacerbated the problem as the government scrambles to find shelter for refugees. Longer term, more campus housing is promised and indeed built across the country, but that’s not helping this year’s intake.
DCU has warned its student intake that some may have to reschedule college places if they can’t find housing, a situation that could well get worse if, as proposed in budget documents, landlords are given tax breaks on long leases rather than leases during the academic year.
Munster Technological University students who had paid deposits and were due to move into student housing in Co Kerry have been told their accommodation is no longer available to them as it has been reserved for long term rentals instead.
The government, meanwhile, has asked households living near colleges to make rooms available for incoming students. See the table below for information on the Rent-a-Room program.
So, where else can students check at the beginning of the semester?
One type of placement that is proving successful is the ‘companion care’ market.
Students (or adults) are matched with elderly people who live at home but need light assistance, overnight presence and companionship in their home for a room and a small fee. It is important to note that you do not have to be a caregiver in the professional or qualified sense.
TV vet Pete Wedderburn found that college students changed the life of his late father-in-law, John Hanna.
“When my mother-in-law died, John was left alone at the age of 90. His main problem was loneliness, he could take care of himself, cook a meal and still drive a car, except he was used to living with his wife for 60 years.
“He used to call us for an hour every night just to talk. But he didn’t want or need handlers. As students began staying with him to cook dinner and socialize, he became accustomed to sharing his house with someone else. In later years, when he reached the more diligent stage, he was used to it and could see the benefits as well as how much fun it was. His life was so much better.
“Having a student was good for evening company and to make him dinner. We had them from France, Italy, Brazil and Venezuela. John never needed a nursing home and that undoubtedly delayed it. He was fully engaged and active until he died peacefully at home at the age of 100,” says Pete.
A number of agencies operate in this space, with TheHomeShare.ie and ElderHomeShare.ie being the best known. The latter charges each party a monthly fee of €150, with an additional €75 payable by the tenant to the homeowner in “high demand” areas. Compared to average rents of over 1,500 euros per month, where it fits, it is a win for everyone involved.
If you’re lucky enough to secure accommodation at home or away, you need to get your finances under control. Writing a monthly list of everything you need is a good place to start.
Many student offices offer help and emergency expenses, especially for low earners, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Good sites to help with finding accommodation are collegecribs.ie, which has many ‘digs’ rooms, and rent.ie. It’s also worth checking neighborhood bulletin boards, community centers and libraries as the academic year begins.
Every year, An Garda Síochána reports cases where students have been scammed out of their hard-saved money to book accommodation.
A shocking €291,452
was stolen in housing fraud earlier this year.
The National Economic Crime Bureau warns scammers are more likely to operate through Messenger and WhatsApp than legitimate rental agencies.
They will urge you to make a quick decision and transfer money urgently. They may live abroad.
“Once you have decided to accept the offer, only use trustworthy money transfer systems. A Garda Síochána would recommend using a credit card. Never transfer money directly, pay cash or deposit into cryptocurrency wallets.”
One thing the government is pushing for is for more homeowners to rent out a room in their home for students – known these days as “digs”.
There are good incentives to do this if you have the space.
The Rent-a-Room program allows you to earn up to €14,000 per year by offering a room to a student. Of course, many won’t make that amount, but if you had a few rooms available and were willing to rent them out, you could do so.
Given the limitations of Airbnb and other short-term rentals, the tax break only applies to long-term rentals, but a nine-month academic year counts, even if your renter is only there Monday through Friday.
They don’t officially become a landlord, so they don’t have to register with the Residential Tenancies Board and don’t offer guests the same protections like minimum notice periods or restrictions in rental pressure zones. But you also don’t have the rights that official landlords have.
It is worth noting that if your income is over €14,000 you may be charged tax on the property and if you have a ‘granny flat’ separate from your main residence this is not included in the scheme.
It is important to establish firm ground rules early on. This may relate to the use of common areas, overnight visitors, quiet times, curfews, or the provision of meals and laundry services. It is entirely up to you and you must declare the earnings in your annual tax return to the tax office.
https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/accommodation-crisis-you-got-the-course-now-how-do-you-find-the-room-you-need-for-college-41996077.html Housing crisis – you got the course, how do you find the room you need for your studies now?