Bill to protect rights of college renters as Dáil hears some students sleep in cars

Sinn Féin has introduced a Bill to protect the rights of students who are renting.

The Residential Tenancies (Student rents, rights and protections) Bill 2018 is aimed at giving clarity on licence agreements for student accommodation.

The party is welcoming the Housing Committee's support for the Bill as it went through the pre-legislative scrutiny stage this morning.

The Bill has been proposed by Eoin Ó Broin and Kathleen Funchion.

Earlier today, the Union of Students in Ireland made a special presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on Housing in relation to the Bill.

They reiterated previous declarations that Purpose Built Student Accommodation is not fit for purpose.

The USI said that rent pressure zones are "the very least" that should be considered to ease the strain.

The union said that the crisis has had an impact on students' ability to fully access their education, with some sleeping in cars, couch-surfing, and commuting hours to get to lectures.

USI VP for Campaigns, Michelle Byrne, told the committee: "On the night of the census in 2016, there were 429 homeless students in Ireland, making up over 8% of the total homeless numbers.

"When the Government’s student accommodation strategy was launched in July 2017, there was an excess demand in purpose built student accommodation of over 23,000 beds.

This is expected to increase to almost 26,000 by 2019. This means we are still 16,000 beds short even if all PBSA which is projected is successfully completed.

“It is important to note that the bill at hand applies to some ‘student specific accommodation’ but may not apply to all of it. The Residential Tenancies Act, at section 3(1)(c), states that the act does not apply to accommodation let “by or to” a public authority.

"At section 4(1) a public authority is defined as (among other things) 'a recognised educational institution, namely, any university, technical college, regional technical college, secondary or technical college or other institution or body of persons approved of, for the purpose of providing an approved course of study, by the Minister for Education'," she said.

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