DCU calls for regulation of student accommodation sector

By Shauna Bowers

DCU Students marching to Shanowen Square to express their anger over the rental increase. Image credit: Mark Carroll

DCU are calling on policy makers to regulate “the escalating and uncontrolled pricing” of the student housing sector.

Two weeks ago, this newspaper revealed that purpose-built student accommodation complexes around the Glasnevin area increased the rent for the upcoming academic year by over 20 per cent each.

Shanowen Square announced an increase of 27 per cent and the nearby complex Shanowen Hall announced increases of just over 23.5 per cent. Both complexes also require a €400 non-refundable deposit.

These increases means students will be paying between €235 and €225 a week for accommodation for the academic year – meaning their eight and a half month lease will come in at around €9,000.

In a statement, President of DCU, Professor Brian MacCraith, highlighted the need for action to stop the rental increases in student accommodation complexes.

“In some cases, students are being exploited by constraints in the rental market in Dublin and elsewhere around the country. Recent increases of up to 27 per cent on student accommodation by private providers are simply unacceptable,” he said. “The primary driver of the escalating costs for student accommodation is that demand is now far outstripping supply.

“If regulation and supply are not addressed student accommodation costs will invariably continue to increase.

“The burdens being placed on students and their families by such increases is unacceptable and will inevitably create a family-income-based barrier for entry into Higher and Further Education. This is completely contrary to current government policies in this regard.”

This statement came following DCU Students’ Union organised a protest outside the Shanowen accommodation complexes on Thursday the 29th of March.

Their campaign is under the name #ShanowenShakedown and they are asking for a complete reversal of these increases and are seeking regulation to prevent increases such as these in the future.

DCU Students’ Union VP for Welfare and Equality, Podge Henry, fears that these increases will prevent students from furthering their education.

“This will 100 per cent stop people from going to college. It’s ridiculous. Students don’t have the money to pay €9,000 on top of tuition,” he said.

“If you’re from a family that only has one income, like one parent is working and the other isn’t, then you simply can’t afford €9,000. We need this to change. Four years ago, Shanowen was just under €5,000 and now it’s €9,000? That’s just not acceptable.”

An online petition was started last week and had over 15,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Shanowen Square and Hall did not respond to requests for comment by The College View.

Trinity Students’ Union has also shown their support for DCUSU in their campaign for a complete reversal of these increases.

We stand side by side with DCU Students' Union – DCU SU , in their protests against extortionate rental increases in student accommodation. #ShanowenShakedown #TakeBackTrinity

Posted by Trinity College Students' Union on Friday, March 30, 2018

In an open letter published on Friday, they said: “Accommodation is a basic right. Safe, comfortable, affordable housing is an absolute necessity for all. Students across this country have been taken advantage of for too long.

“Enough is enough… The students of this country stand united in rejection of all unjust charges, all regressive fees, and all policies that are detrimental to students. We stand with you. We support you. We share your struggle.”