Student accommodation has become a lucrative market, and while the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 goes some way towards protecting students in rented accommodation, tighter regulation of the private rented market is urgently needed.
Parents and students alike should also be aware that the act does not protect a student who signs a set of terms and conditions associated with accommodation offered under another system - licensed accommodation.
We would like to highlight the fact that many institutions offer accommodation under licence and not under a lease agreement.
Licence agreements, which are signed contracts, often ignore many of the safeguards offered by established leasing law and covered under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.
Licences may suit short-term accommodation, such as bed-and-breakfasts and hotels, but this type of agreement offers students little or no protection from interference and infringements deemed unacceptable in the private rental market.
Licence agreements often subject students to unacceptable levels of surveillance, legally penalise students who wish to shorten their stay, contain restrictions on free association and, in our experience, greatly degrade their college experience.
When choosing a college, institute or university we would strongly advise parents and students to ensure that the accommodation offers the protection of a fair and equitable lease agreement protected by law, and not a licence agreement.
This will ensure that when, and if, problems arise they can be dealt with in a manner which protects the students’ rights.
Dublin City University Students’ Union
NUI Maynooth Students’ Union