A claimed 18 per cent hike in rents for student accommodation has led to fears that Galway students could be paying an additional €1,000 for a nine month/39 week lease, when the new academic term starts in September.
Management at the Cúirt na Coiribe student accommodation estate recently revealed plans to introduce rent increases. The increases have met with a storm of criticism from students and politicians. The creation of an online petition opposing the planned hikes has gathered almost 4,000 signatures.
Galway Labour chair, Andrew Ó Baoill, criticised the rent increases, saying it was "callous and unfair" to expect students "to commit to these increases" coming so soon after the Easter break and with end of year exams about to start. He noted how students were now "commuting significant distances" due "in large part to difficulties in securing affordable housing in the city", and added: "Continued housing difficulties threaten the advances our third-level institutions have achieved in recent years.”
Independent Galway West TD Catherine Connolly also came out this week in support of student concerns over rent increases, which she said were "totally unacceptable". She said: "The protest by the students highlights, in a most acute way, the housing emergency in Galway, a city where the housing market is clearly out of control, notwithstanding that Galway has been designated as a Rent Pressure Zone by the Government."
The Social Democrats' Niall Ó Tuathail said the hikes were "completely against the spirit of recent laws to protect renters". He called on the Cúirt na Coiribe management to "stop these rate hikes and come to a agreement with the NUIG Students Union". He also called on the Government to start "building at scale to take pressure off the housing market and make accommodation affordable again for students, young families, and people on lower incomes.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Cuirt na Coiribe management pointed out that it had advised residents of "rent updates planned to take effect in the September 2018/2019 academic year". It said that from September, a single room in Cuirt na Coiribe will cost €140 per week compared to current rents of €141 per week in Gort na Coiribe; €148 in Donegan Court; and €135 at Corrib Village on the NUIG campus. The statement added, "Existing rental agreements with tenants for the remainder of this year are unaffected", and that the new rents "will bring Cuirt na Coiribe in line with the wider student accommodation market in Galway".
Cuirt na Coiribe is also "set to benefit from a €2 million investment programme" over the next two years. This will involve refurbishment to common areas; a planned broadband and WiFi upgrade for this summer; and a "complete refurbishment of the complex" in summer 2019 to ensure Curt na Coiribe continues to provide "superior accommodation at appropriate market rates". Cuirt na Coiribe said it also reduced the upfront booking deposit to reserve accommodation from €900 to €300 to "assist current tenants budget for the new academic year".