What’s happened since Shanowen Shakedown?

Alison Clair

Almost a year on from the ‘Shanowen Shakedown’ campaign, legislation has not been implemented to put Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) under the 4 per cent rent caps that Rent Pressure Zones are subject to. 

DCU Students’ Union held the protest Shanowen Shakedown last year, followed by other students’ unions in Ireland such as UCC and NUI Galway holding protests of their own, against rising rent prices in student accommodation.

Rent Pressure Zones are designated areas where rent can only be increased up to 4 per cent a year. Dublin City is one of these pressure zones, however, Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) is not included in these rent caps.

This time last year TD Eoin Ó’ Broin introduced The Residential Tenancies (student rents, rights and protections) Bill 2018 to ensure that students are protected against steep rent increases. The bill is currently before Dáil Éireann, in the third stage of passing through the Oireachtas.

“PBSA that is being currently built is being built as luxury accommodation, with extortionate rents that is being aimed at international students, that have already paid significant loans in order to pay for it,” said Union of Students in Ireland President Síona Cahill.

“Students who live in PBSA are licensees and not tenants so, therefore, they have no tenants’ rights. Owners of PBSA accommodation can effectively put up the rents in the space of 24 hours,” said Cahill.

“Legislation is needed urgently. The government are open to it. We need the government to put PBSA under the 4 per cent rent caps, as it makes sense.”

Student accommodation near the DCU Glasnevin campus, Shanowen Square, is advertising its apartments as €6993 for a shared room, €8325 for a single room ensuite and €9250 for a double bed, for the academic year 2019/20.

Shanowen Square is one of the highest priced accommodations around DCU and charged €9,095 for the 2018/19 year. This price was an increase of €1,755 from the 2017/18 academic year according to the SU’s figures.

The other accommodation in the Shanowen area, Shanowen Hall’s, prices is slightly cheaper. It charged €8,725 this year, an increase of €1,591 from the 2017/18 academic year.

Shanowen Square is also offering a “deal” for lower rent for students that lived in their complex last year. They opened up offers to their existing residents earlier than the rest of the public. They are charging a rate of €8140 for a single room ensuite, knocking €185 off the price.

Both complexes require a deposit of €400 which is non-refundable if the accommodation is successful, but refunded if not.

“In comparison to the accommodation I lived in the first semester, Shanowen Square is definitely worth the money. My last house had 11 tenants and we had been broken into so the fact that Shanowen has 24-hour security gives me peace of mind,” said Sinead O’ Farrell, final year communications student in DCU.

“Although saying that, it is pricy and I am lucky I won’t have to live in student accommodation next year.”

USI is still holding strikes and looking for legislation to be passed to cap student accommodation under Rent Pressure Zone regulation.

 

Alison Clair

Image Credit: Alison Clair