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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Alamy Stock Photo If the students did not pay the rent, they all risked losing their tenancy completely.

Students told to pay year's rent of over €8,000 in two cash installments or risk losing tenancy

In the terms and conditions of the tenancy said the tenants must pay €8,340 in cash in two installments.

FIVE STUDENTS IN Co Limerick were told they must pay their year’s rent, over €8,000 each, in two separate cash installments or risk being left without anywhere to stay.

In the terms and conditions of last year’s tenancy seen by The Journal, the agreement was set to begin on a date in August with the yearly rent of €8,340 to be made in two payments, one in September and another in October.

If the students did not pay the rent, they all risked losing their tenancy completely. It is understood that the €41,700 rent bill was paid, as all five men occupied the residence for the mandatory 52-week period.

At least one of the tenants intends on renting the property again for this coming academic year, as “it’s so difficult to get alternative accommodation”, the student’s father said.

Asked about the circumstances of this case, Minister for Higher and Further Education Simon Harris told The Journal that the practice of asking for more than two months’ rent in advance was made illegal and encouraged landlords to “obey the laws”.

“It’s a challenging enough time to be a student, or a parent of a student, trying to find accommodation,” Harris said.

“The government has taken a number of measures to reduce the amount of money someone has to pay [...] but at least you’re not having to find a very large, up-front sum of money – and we did that intentionally,” the Minister added.

The Rental Tenancies (No.2) Act of 2021 says that a tenant cannot be forced to make upfront payments of more than two month’s rent.

This applies to any tenancy created since 9 August 2021 but there is an opt-out of this restrction for student-specific accommodation, allowing students to pay more upfront if they want. 

However, in this situation, the landlord added a note at the bottom of the terms and conditions of the tenancy stating: “This is not student specific accommodation as this type of lease is suitable for workers and families.”

The home owned by the landlord is located near the University of Limerick. All tenants were told that they could not leave earlier than the 52-week period.

The rent did not include monthly bills or a TV licence. There was also no internet or cutlery provided with the accommodation. 

A deposit of €500 was required – and was separate to the rent – which they would have lost, along with their tenancy, if the cash amount was not provided to the landlord on the dates given.

This is one of many properties that the landlord is understood to own in the area, and one of a number of ongoing issues that students are facing in already dwindling accommodation market. 

Ronan Cahill, Student Union President at UL, said: “This situation is just one example of the ongoing crisis students are facing.

Students are being put under extreme pressure and coerced into handing over large amounts of money to have a chance at securing a roof over their head before September.”

Cahill labelled the request a “totally unacceptable expectation on students coming into college for what should be a very exciting time for them”.

Last week, a spokesperson for the Department of Higher and Further Education told The Journal that an additional 938 beds will be available in publicly funded Higher Education institutions for this academic year.

Separately, Harris said yesterday that the government is “back in the business” of investing to support the construction of accommodation, with 1,100 beds to be added to Dublin City University, University of Limerick, University of Galway and Maynooth University. 

A spokesperson for the University of Limerick said: “Demand for student accommodation is extremely high and has been exacerbated by a national housing shortage, a pattern of private landlords leaving the student rental market and a drop in ‘digs / homestay’ type accommodation.”

The spokesperson said that all three institutions in the university are working to encourage local homeowners to join the rent-a-room scheme and building awareness campaigns on the lack of accommodation available.

The Department of Further and Higher Education is currently creating guidelines for homeowners and students to consider before engaging in the rent-a-room scheme. It has been promised that these will be published before the start of the academic year.

The minister told The Journal ath the rent-a-room scheme is a “very helpful scheme” that aids “many, many students and indeed many homeowners – in terms of finding a scenario that works for them”.

Harris added: “I know for some people, digs doesn’t work for them and I respect that, but for others it does work.”

The UL spokesperson added that the university is “very conscious” of the shortage in student accommodation and is developing long-term plans to help tackle the issue. This includes the introduction of a Student Accommodation Officer last year.

Cahill said: “It’s important that students understand they have the same rights as anyone else who is renting through the private rental market. Students can better understand their rights as tenants by visiting the Threshold website.” 

A recent report from found that the “extraordinary shortage of rental accommodation” is continuing. This shortage does not only impact students looking for short-term rentals but also other potential tenants looking for a home nationally. said: “On 1 August, there were fewer than 1,200 homes available to rent nationwide. While this marked an increase of over 460 on the same date last year, availability remains extremely tight compared to other years.”

The Department of Higher and Further Education understands an extra 2,057 private accommodation beds will come on stream during the third quarter of this year.