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Rent savings a rare comfort to students facing rising costs

John Logue, USI President

20th Aug 2012

John Logue, USI President, commenting on the latest Daft research on the Irish property market

Rent savings a rare comfort to students facing rising costs

The rent market is perhaps one of the few aspects of student life that has improved since the recession began. In 2007, a student could expect to pay exorbitant rates for sub-standard accommodation, particularly in Dublin.

That's if they could secure accommodation before the college term began. Many students resigned themselves to commuting long distances or took a bed in the cheapest digs available.

The situation has improved dramatically since then. Not only have rent prices fallen significantly since 2007, the stock of properties available has increased both in volume and quality. Students also have far more choice in where to look for accommodation listings, with the growth of sites like Daft.ie. Colleges and Students' Unions have also evolved their views on the accommodation services they offer students. Some Students' Unions even run dedicated Accommodation Advisory services during the summer months.

The Union of Students in Ireland publishes an annual rent book, which offers tips on how best to approach the accommodation hunt, how to negotiate an equitable lease and information on tenants' rights. This publication is a must for all students and will guide you through the experience of leasing accommodation throughout the year.

These services, combined with the increased competitiveness in the rent market, have resulted in more knowledgeable students who know what prices they should expect to pay and what standard not to fall below.

However, the most recent Daft.ie Quarterly Report shows a more nuanced rent market than we have seen in some years. No longer are rent prices falling in all regions. The narrative of this Daft.ie Quarterly Report is one that mirrors the growing disparity between the economic situation in rural and large urban areas. While rent prices have leveled off and, indeed, are increasing marginally in large urban areas, rural areas are still experiencing falling rent prices, albeit at a more modest rate than in previous years.

In Dublin, Galway and Cork, rents were up to 2% higher in the second quarter than in the previous year. Rents outside these main cities were up to 4% lower than the previous year. The financial burden shouldered by students who choose to attend a Dublin college is perhaps best illustrated by quoting some rent comparisons. A three bedroom house in Dublin 6, a popular area for students, costs an average of €1,445 while a similar house in the Connacht region costs €598. However, rents in Dublin are still down 25% from their peak in 2007, meaning students now are still at a significant advantage to their beleaguered boom-time peers.

These figures have to be put in the overall context of the increasing cost of attaining a third level education. The Student Contribution Charge increased by €250 last year and now stands at €2,250, up from €900 in 2007. The maintenance has been cut dramatically and students who could once expect to receive the non-adjacent grant will now go without, thanks to an arbitrary re-setting of the distance criteria.

It could be said therefore that the savings in rents provide a rare comfort to families that are faced with ever-increasing costs. Indeed, recent announcements would suggest that families may turn to private loan schemes, incurring more debt, to manage these costs.

It might be useful at this point to provide some pointers to students who are embarking on their first accommodation hunt, or returning students who want to improve their savvy.

  • Before signing a contract, students should always ensure that their landlord is registered with the PRTB (see www.prtb.ie for further information)
  • Read the terms of the lease carefully. Don't sign anything or make a financial commitment before you understand what you're getting into.
  • Remember that utility bills and bin charges will probably be an additional cost to your rent. Factor this into your budget.
  • You should have your landlord or agent's name, contact details and postal address.
  • You can claim tax relief on rent.
  • Take an inventory of all items in the house and take photos of each room. Get your landlord/agent to sign and date the photos. This will help you get your deposit back at the end of the year, as you will not be blamed for damage you didn't cause.
  • Don't pay by cash if it all possible and always ask for receipts.
  • Aim to be a good tenant - when moving out, make sure you clean all appliances, bedrooms, toilets and living rooms. Not only will this keep you in the good books of the landlord/agent, it will help you get your deposit back.


Rental Index
Rental Price Index

Snapshot of Asking Rental Prices Near Colleges
Rental Price Index

Stock and flow of properties
Stock and Flow of Rental Properties


Snapshot of Asking Rental Prices Nationwide
Snapshot of Rents Nationwide