Shortage of student accommodation in Galway sees families facing mounting costs

Imogen O’Flaherty Falconer, Joe Mee, Sai Gujulla, and Barry Ó Siochrú of NUI Galway Students’ Union.

Imogen O’Flaherty Falconer, Joe Mee, Sai Gujulla, and Barry Ó Siochrú of NUI Galway Students’ Union.

The shortage of student accommodation in Galway, combined with the cost of living crisis, is “crippling” students and their families as well as leaving students vulnerable to rental scams, it was claimed this week.

A lack of affordable accommodation in and around the city has seen students scrambling to secure somewhere to live before the beginning of the academic year.

According to Cllr Niall McNelis, the accommodation crisis is just “the tip of the iceberg” for students in Galway, who has this week called for action to ensure students in Galway have access to education this year.

“I am inundated with students and parents contacting me about the lack of affordable student accommodation available for the forthcoming term,” the Labour city councillor said this week. “Students have long been at the coal face of the rental crisis with many paying into the tens of thousands for accommodation while trying to get their qualification.

“There is and always has been huge profiteering at the heart of the student accommodation crisis. There are a range of measures Government can bring in to protect purpose built student accommodation, including backing Labour’s Planning and Development (Amendment ) Bill 2021 which would stop developers using loopholes in the planning legislation to convert student accommodation into apartments for tourists.”

Meanwhile NUI Galway Students’ Union has this week warned students to exercise caution when seeking accommodation due to the prevalence of rental scams. The union is particularly warning against handing over a deposit before viewing a property. Students are also advised not to pay a deposit in cash, and to get a receipt - which is legally required - when paying a deposit.

Students should also request a BER certificate before entering into a contract, and check that appliances are working, any necessary repairs are carried out, good broadband is in place, and that the house is well ventilated and heated. It is also advisable to ensure that the duration of tenancy, and the utility bills payable, are clearly outlined at the beginning of the tenancy.

“Finding accommodation can be extremely stressful and people tend to rush into it,” said Students’ Union vice-president/welfare and equality officer Imogen O’Flaherty Falconer. “It is paramount that you follow these guidelines to avoid scams and ensure that the house you live in will be sustainable for you and your friends. Never rush into getting accommodation, be cautious, and insist on receipts and any repairs where necessary. This will be where you stay for at least nine months so make sure you have all the necessities before making any commitments. Students still seeking accommodation should check www.nuigstudentpad.ie

In response to the student accommodation crisis, Sinn Féin has launched an online survey seeking information on how the crisis is impacting individuals and their studies.

Galway East Sinn Féin’s Louis O’Hara has invited students across Galway to share their experiences in the survey.

“We want to hear from students in Galway about how the crisis is affecting you personally,” Mr O’Hara said. “There are huge numbers of students and families in Galway who are worried sick about how they will secure suitable college accommodation in time. Many are concerned they will have to make long, exhausting, and expensive commutes to college because they can find nothing nearby. Students should be able to focus on their studies, not face the added stress and hassle of navigating the housing crisis.”

The party is calling for the immediate completion of on-campus building projects, which would provide thousands of beds, along with a national awareness campaign on the rent-a-room scheme among a raft of measures to address the crisis.

“For months, Sinn Féin have been warning Minister Simon Harris that we are hurtling headlong into an accommodation crisis for students,” Mr O’Hara added. “Despite this, the Government failed to act and students and their families are now paying the price. This has to stop. Students in Galway deserve better and they need to see this sorted as an urgent priority.”

The online survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/StudentHousingCrisis

 

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