The shortage of rental accommodation is making it more difficult for new entrants to find places to live as existing students rely more on purpose-built complexes.
As the countdown begins to the rush for places when Leaving Certificate students get college offers in less than three weeks, first-year students could face even more pressure than in other years.
Each year, some 25,000 students compete for places in the private rental market after around 35,000 spaces in college-owned and private student accommodation are let out. Despite the completion of several purpose-built student complexes in recent years, the shortfall is being barely reduced because student numbers are also rising.
The number of private landlords letting houses near Cork Institute of Technology campuses has dropped by as much as two-thirds over the last few years.
“We’d have had around 150 houses on our list that we circulated to students in the past, but we probably haven’t 50 this year,” said Deirdre Falvey, CIT student services accommodation officer.
She said young families have been able to better afford rents and these make for more secure longer lets to landlords. In addition, some landlords have sold houses they were renting as property values have returned to former levels.
“Some students who have a good relationship with their landlord are keeping the same house for the following year. And other students who were previously in house shares are taking student apartments, so the number of spaces for first years is even less again,” said Ms Falvey.
Like many other third-level colleges, CIT is now reaching out to local communities to encourage people to rent rooms in their own homes.
The Union of Students in Ireland has relaunched a website aimed at matching owner-occupiers with rooms to rent to consider taking on student tenants for the college year. A rent-a-room tax relief allows home owners earn up to €12,000 without any tax liability.
University College Cork Students’ Union welfare officer, Rory O’Donnell, said people have been in contact all through the summer in the search for rooms — well before the mid-August crunch time after school leavers get their results.
“The university have come in and got extra beds this year, but student numbers are rising,” he said.
“In the last few years, more first years are going for private accommodation, possibly because second years are choosing to stay in campus places rather than looking for space in the private rental market.”
Around 56,000 students will receive their Leaving Certificate results a fortnight from today, and most have applied for third-level through the Central Applications Office.
Just under 40,000 places were filled in the main round of 2015 CAO offers, which will issue for this year’s school leavers and others on August 22.
Around 5,000 places have already gone to overseas students and some mature students.
A further round of offers issues tomorrow to other mature students, those who deferred places last year, and some further education graduates.
These two early rounds accounted for 7,500 out of more than 48,000 college places filled by the CAO in 2015.
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