Student rents up €15 a week to cover water
MANY landlords are increasing rents for college-goers by €15 a week ahead of the introduction of water charges, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has claimed.
This is despite the fact the first bills under the new utility regime will not be sent out until January.
USI welfare officer Greg O'Donoghue said the increases are unacceptable, given that the charges have yet to be implemented.
He said water rates "should be the tenants' responsibility only when they are introduced".
The USI previously called on the Government to provide students with relief from the charges. It wanted to ensure the cost did not get passed on directly or indirectly.
The USI said further financial pressures should not be the "final straw" in making higher education inaccessible to young people.
"There is an ever-increasing gap between the cost of college which numerous reports have now shown to be over €10,000 per annum and declining student supports," former USI president Joe O'Connor said.
However, the impending water levy is already pushing up expenses.
Trinity's students' union welfare officer Ian Mooney said no one knows what the charge is going to be and "students are now bearing the brunt of this".
Another difficulty is that landlords are specifying they want postgraduates or "professional students".
Last month, the USI appealed to homeowners in Dublin to consider offering accommodation because rents had gone up so much.
More than 80,000 students attend third-level education in Dublin, 20pc of whom are from abroad.
"The cost of accommodation in and around Dublin has risen enormously, pricing many students out of the accommodation market," said USI president Laura Harmon.
"To compound this, the value of the student grant has fallen against inflation over a number of years.
"The end result will be students unhoused and dropping out."
The USI called on the Government to form a task force on student accommodation. It has set up a website allowing homeowners to list spare rooms.