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Rental market favours students at the moment

Gary Redmond, President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI)

19th Aug 2010

Gary Redmond, President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), commenting on the latest Daft research on the Irish property market.

For any student starting college, moving away from home for the first time is a big step. Back in 2004, when I started college in UCD, the Celtic Tiger was still roaring and finding student accommodation was a huge issue. At that time, Ireland was experiencing a surge of immigrants from Eastern Europe to feed the booming construction sector. This resulted in the stock of affordable student accommodation being at a historically low level. The effects of this on the ground were simple to see: students paid more for accommodation, settled for accommodation of a poor standard or had to commute further to college.

Nowadays, the economic climate in Ireland is considerably different. Rent prices are continuing to fall across the country and figures from daft.ie show that the stock of properties available to rent remains high. However, many of the issues that affected me when I moved from Arklow to Dublin are still to fore of students' minds today.

When the first round of CAO offers is published on August 23, thousands of students and their parents will take to the streets to begin the hunt for accommodation. Competition to find quality accommodation, particularly in the large cities and towns, can be fierce. One simple piece of advice that I would recommend to all students is be proactive and start the search early, as it is my experience that the students out of traps early invariably get the choice of the best quality accommodation, closest to their college at an affordable price.

Finding suitable accommodation is fundamental to the college experience and one of the key questions asked by every student is "should I live with strangers or with friends from home?" When I began college I was the only person from my secondary school class that went to UCD. This seemed like a huge negative at the time, but this couldn't have been further from the truth. By moving in with strangers and being forced to make new friends, I got the most out of my college experience.

Most colleges offer on-campus student accommodation. While on-campus residences have the distinct advantages of being located close to lecture halls and other facilities such as shops, sports facilities and the college library, this option is often much more expensive than the private rental market and can only cater for a small fraction of the student population.

Before signing a contract, students should always ensure that their landlord is registered with the PRTB (see www.prtb.ie for further information) and that they have contact details - name, address and contact number for their landlord or their agent. It is also worth noting that you may be entitled to claim tax relief on any rent paid. For further information on this, visit www.revenue.ie. To avoid difficulties at the end of the tenancy, USI recommends that all students use a USI Rent Book (available from USI) as proof of all payments and agree a schedule of the contents of the property.

Over the last two years, the media has been dominated by news of the ailing economy, the banks and oversupply in the property market. On the surface, this oversupply appears to be good news for students. Rents are, on average, about 8% lower now than a year ago.

On the other hand students have faced a cut of 5% in their maintenance grant and a 69% increase in the student services charge in the last 12 months. Coupled with the worsening labour market, students are still finding that accommodation continues to account for a large portion of their budget. With over 200,000 students beginning the annual accommodation hunt, what can they expect to find on the ground? Well, there is a lot of good news for students, as rents for everything from a single bedroom to five-bed homes are down on average compared to a year ago across all major university cities and towns.

A year ago, students could expect to pay rent in the range of €370-400 per month, while students in Dublin faced considerably higher rents. But recent figures from Daft now show that in the last year the biggest falls in rents have been in Dublin. Generally, around the country, rents are between 20% and 30% below what they were two years ago.

In Dublin, over 80,000 students can expect to pay the most in rent with a single room costing on average €400 a month in the city centre. Meanwhile, a double room comes in at just over €500 per month. In the suburbs of south county Dublin, this figure drops to €353 for single room and €443 for a double room. Outside of Dublin students studying in Cork can expect to pay the most with a double room in Cork City centre costing €345 per month. Castlebar, Letterkenny & Tralee offer the best value for students with rents coming in at around €200 per month for a single room.

With rents continuing to fall, and a steady supply of properties available for rent, the market seems to be in favour of the students at the moment. There is of course one caveat, with a number of mortgage providers increasing their variable interest rates in recent weeks, it remains to be seen if landlords will try to pass the extra cost onto students, or if, due to the weak market, they'll just grin and bear it.

One thing is for certain: the standard of property available today is far superior to that which previous generations of Irish students were forced to inhabit.


Rental Index
Rental Index

Stock and Flow of Properties
Stock and Flow of Properties


Average asking prices across Ireland in Q2 20010
Asking Prices in Q2, 2010