Students face 'homeless' fears as housing demand increases in Limerick

All on-campus accommodation at UL 'fully booked'

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Students face 'homeless' fears as demand outstrips supply in Limerick

All on-campus accommodation at UL is 'fully booked'

FEARS have been raised that some Limerick students could be left “homeless” for the first few weeks of the September semester, in light of a housing supply decline and increasing rents.

A spokesperson for University of Limerick confirmed this week that all on-campus accommodation is “fully booked”, which means hundreds of students will have to seek accommodation in Castletroy and in the city centre.

And, for the second year, UL will be issuing flyers and calling on local homeowners to take on students in order to alleviate the problem.

Last year, local homeowners made 250 rooms available, and UL is hoping to exceed that number ahead of the autumn semester.

The average weekly cost of rent for on-campus accommodation ranges between €109 and €143, and this includes all utility bills, wifi, and membership to the UL Sports Arena. For those who avail of accommodation elsewhere, the average rate of rent ranges between €70 and €80, generally excluding utility bills and the on-campus perks. 

One off-campus accommodation recently advertised a house for students, charging €6,000 for an ensuite room for the academic year. This is considerably more expensive than most on-campus accommodation.

A UL spokesperson has pointed out that at no stage in the last academic year was the off-campus ‘digs’ accommodation supply list fully subscribed indicating that there were rental options available to students at all times.

In light of rising rents, Solidarity councillor Cian Prendiville has said that “people power” is needed to "to prevent profiteering and price gouging like this, and to ensure students get decent, affordable accommodation in time for September”.

“Year after year, there is a crisis of student accommodation in Limerick, particularly around UL, with students regularly left homeless for the first few weeks of the year, and others dropping out of college as they cannot afford to rent here.”

Jack Shelly, UL Students’ Union’s president, said that sourcing accommodation is “especially tough” for first years, because of the CAO system.

For first year students who have more than one college on their CAO application, they must wait until results are published in August. They then “have to scramble to find accommodation”, Mr Shelly told the Leader.

However, he added, not every student has the same problem. Based on his experience, he said, the sooner you look for a house, the better.

“If you leave it until the summer to look for houses, you have to settle for accommodation a half mile or mile away from the campus, which isn’t the end of the world either.”

Ms Shelly and ULSU welfare officer, Roberta Harrington, are aware of the “growing issue of students struggling to find accommodation in the Castletroy area”, and will be raising the issue with UL to see what can be done to relieve the problem.

He added that it is important that the rent rates “don’t rise beyond the reasonable mark” in the future.

Caren Gallagher, of the Residential Tenancies Board, said that housing supply remains a difficulty, despite the rental market growing.

She said that there are “a number of measures” being put in place, through rental strategies, which includes student accommodation. 

She said that the RTB supports calls to “accelerate” the construction of student housing.