With the rush to secure accommodation inevitably ensuing once the CAO offers have been made, students are being encouraged to be aware of accommodation pitfalls.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) launched its 2011 Rent Book & Accommodation Guide at the Waterford Institute of Technology Students’ Union at the Cork Road Campus last Monday.
The 2011 guide, which has been produced with the support of Threshold and the Department of the Environment, provides students and parents with all the practical information needed on any accommodation issues they may face throughout the college year.
The Rent Book, which was launched by Threshold’s Diarmaid O’Sullivan and WITSU Welfare Officer Denise McCarthy, lists a number of support organisations and services that are available if students encounter issues in dealing with their landlord.
The rent book launch coincided with the launch of the USI’s campaign for the introduction of a Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) to protect students from being ripped off by rogue landlords.
“Every year, students’ unions across the country deal with cases of rogue landlords who target students and refuse to return deposits without any legitimate reason,” said USI President Gary Redmond.
“With families struggling to afford the basic costs of attending college, this is not a situation that can be allowed to continue.”
He continued: “We are calling on the government to introduce a Deposit Protection Scheme, where the deposit is held by an independent agency that can solve disputes such as the PRTB (Private Residential Tenancies Board). The DPS offers a cost effective way of supporting tenants and landlords when dealing with issues surrounding the deposits.”
Research carried out by the USI has found that 40 per cent of students have had deposits unfairly withheld, while more than 60 per cent have had around €200 unfairly taken off their deposit.
Threshold is a National Housing Charity that works to help people solve housing problems, and is also encouraging students to carefully choose their lodgings.
Striving to inform students of their rights and obligations regarding accommodation, the organisation is offering advice to students on choosing suitable accommodation.
Threshold has helped students overcome many problems such as those associated with deposit retention, while also addressing the many obstacles faced by overseas students living temporarily in Ireland who may have found themselves with unsuitable living arrangements.