Protections for student renters due to the Coronavirus have been extended

Image Credit: Laoise Tarrant

Protections put in place for student renters who have been disaffected financially by the Covid-19 pandemic have been extended until the 12th of July.

The protections had been due to expire on the 12th of April. However, due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic, and current 5km travel restrictions, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has sought cabinet approval for an extension to these measures. Included in the protections are a moratorium on evictions and rent increases for tenants who have faced financial difficulties and rent arrears as a result of the pandemic. In addition, rent increases for those receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) or payments from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme have been banned.

Landlords will still be able to serve a valid notice of termination for tenants who have fallen into rent arrears, once having given 28 days’ notice to the tenant. However, the tenant in this case will not have to leave their accommodation until after the 12th of July, and must be given 90 days’ notice. Those not included in the protections include licensees or those who live in the same accommodation as their landlord. These renters will not have protection under the residential tenancies act, nor will they be protected by eviction moratoriums.

In response to the measures, UCDSU Welfare Officer Ruairí Power welcomed a three-month extension during a global health crisis as “good news”. However, Power also outlined the SU’s position that an emergency three-year rent freeze for rent pressure zones was required in the context of the housing crisis “in order to combat skyrocketing rent increases in the area surrounding UCD.”

Power also highlighted the work that UCDSU have done in the past year in order to assist student renters facing financial difficulties and rent arrears due to the pandemic, citing the retention of flexible cancellation and refund policies for the current year, while promising to work hard to ensure similar measures are adopted next year.

With regard to licensees, Power highlighted a recent cross-party bill on student rent protections put forward to the Dáil by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), which UCDSU has not been affiliated with since 2013, commending them for their work. Power said that UCDSU is committed to lobbying TD’s and politicians, and will watch intently as the bill progresses.