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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 15 August, 2018
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People asked to rent spare rooms to students as accommodation crisis continues

Tens of thousands of students are looking for accommodation, with the new academic year just around the corner.

Image: Shutterstock/Oliver Huitson

MORE THAN 58,000 students received their Leaving Cert results yesterday and those moving out for college are shifting their focus to where they will live.

The first round of CAO offers will be sent out on Monday, and many students are already on the look-out for accommodation.

Every August, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is contacted by students looking for advice about the topic.

USI President Annie Hoey told TheJournal.ie her main piece of advice for students, both new and returning, looking for accommodation is simple: “Don’t panic.”

In a bid to alleviate some of the August rush, Hoey said student unions around the country have been proactive in encouraging returning students to sort out their accommodation several months ago, where possible.

As for incoming first year students, Hoey said most colleges and universities have accommodation websites and/or Facebook pages set up to give people information and advice.

Digs 

The USI also runs a digs-based website, homes.usi.ie, and this week has been sending out 100,000 flyers to homes across Ireland, encouraging people to rent spare rooms to students.

The organisation said this is a short-term solution to the lack of accommodation available in many areas, describing the current situation as a “crisis”.

“We will be targeting houses located close to colleges across Ireland that have spare rooms,” Hoey said.

Using Cork as an example, she noted that there were just 87 rental properties available in the city on 1 August – 1,000 fewer than there were on the same day six years ago.

“The flyers will be a direct marketing means to inform the public on how bad the rental crisis is and how much money they can make from renting out spare bedrooms to students.

Leasing out spare rooms is a very straightforward process, especially for parents whose children have flown the nest, or who are attending college the other side of the country.

“The average cost of college per child is €11,000 annually and leasing out a room to a student will greatly help with this cost, as you can make up to €12,000 annually tax-free,” Hoey added.

As part of the government’s housing plan, a student housing project manager will join the USI for the next nine months.

shutterstock_283916468 Source: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Hoey said the manager will work with the government to coordinate efforts to improve the current situation and create partnerships with people building accommodation in the private sector.

She added that, while several avenues are being explored, the bottom line is simple: new student accommodation “has to be built”.

Purpose-built accommodation currently being constructed in Dublin is expected to house thousands of students in the coming 12 to 18 months.

The Higher Education Authority has estimated that about 25,000 extra beds for students are needed nationally.

Hoey said it’s hoped the USI’s digs website will find housing for 1,000 students this year – up from 600 in 2015.

Electrical goods 

Meanwhile, in another call-out to students, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has warned people not to cut corners when buying electrical products such as laptops, mini-fridges or MP3 docks.

Pat Bracken of the NSAI noted: “Moving away from home is exciting, but certain appliances may be dangerous if not used carefully or correctly especially in confined areas next to others.”

The organisation is urging students to only buy electrical products with the CE mark, as this indicates they meet EU legislation and safety standards.

However, the NSAI noted that some fake CE mark products may be on the market.

In a statement, the group said: “Familiarise yourself with what a genuine CE mark looks like, always buy products from reputable retailers and online outlets and remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

The NSAI has also encouraged students to make sure there is a carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector in their accommodation.

More information can be read here.

Read: Increase in Maths fails and fewer A1s overall: Here’s how students got on with the Leaving Cert

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Órla Ryan

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