USI called for students to be refunded on accommodation they cannot use during pandemic

Róisín Phelan

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) have called for students to be refunded for any accommodation they can not use during the current pandemic.

DCU will not reopen for the remainder of the semester and so a majority of students have been forced to move back to their family homes indefinitely amid the current pandemic.

However, some nearby private student accommodation operators are not providing refunds to such tenants.

The USI is urging operators like these across the country to refund students’ rent for the remainder of the semester if they vacate their room.

In a statement USI Vice President for Welfare, Róisín O’Donovan said: “these companies make a lot of money from students and we feel they should give back at these difficult times. Some of these companies are telling students they can only get a refund if they find someone else to take the place, which is very unlikely in a pandemic.”

O’Donovan noted that some exchange students who had to leave Ireland at short notice, have left behind their accommodation and have lost potentially thousands of euro worth of rent.

DCU’s own campus accommodation have offered all students who choose to move out of their accommodation a refund for the remaining of their tenancy agreement.

Students living in Shanowen Square and Halls say they have not yet been offered any refund. Many students who live in these accommodations attend DCU, which has confirmed it will not reopen this academic year.

Last week Laura Foody contacted Shanowen Square management via email to request about an update on their policy of refunds. Foody moved out of her apartment in Shanowen Square and returned home to Donegal upon the closure of DCU.

Foody wrote, “In view of the current Covid-19 situation and the fact that there will be no on-campus activity for the foreseeable future, I have been forced to vacate my room in Shanowen Square.”

In a response to this email, management said: “this is still early days and an unprecedented and ever evolving situation, at the moment we are still awaiting a decision in regard to refunds.”

Shanowen Management were contacted for a comment for this article but did not respond.

DCU students are currently completing their studies at home as the university reviews assessment methods and implements online learning.

Róisín Phelan

Image Credit: USI