Planning records show that Dublin City Council has granted permits to student accommodation providers in the city allowing them to convert up to 1,055 student beds into short-term or co-living accommodation until the end of May 2022. This comes after complaints of lack of demand resulting in high rents.
“At the height of the pandemic, when most students were studying remotely, short term lettings were allowed on a temporary basis only”, a spokesperson for the City Council said. However, the first permits to convert dedicated student housing to other uses were obtained before the pandemic began, and the most recent decision was made earlier this month.
DWS, which operates Point Campus, near the 3 Arena, was approved to temporarily change the use of 713 student beds to short-term rentals, and this change took effect in January 2019. In September 2019, the City Council subsequently granted permission to DWS to switch their accommodation to co-living. This license lasted until September 2020 and was renewed for another year.
Global Student Accommodation (GSA) in Dublin 7, got permission to use their student housing for short-term rentals from 2019 until May 2020. The planning records did not clearly indicate how many beds were covered by the change in use.
These permits were issued before Covid-19 in early 2020. However, during the pandemic, many other student residences have been turned into short-term rental apartments under approval from Dublin City Council: Heyday Student Accommodation in The Liberties being amongst the group who turned their purpose-built student accommodation into short-term options.
Granting of such permissions to student accommodation providers has allowed them to continue charging high rent prices. A spokesperson for the Dublin City Council stated that the rent charged by the student accommodation provider has nothing to do with the planning authority; “however, the planning system operates in [a] market economy which includes the principle that increasing the supply of PSBA (purpose-built student accommodation) would result in more affordable rent”.
According to Caoimhe O’Carroll, Vice President of the USI (Union of Students Ireland) for their Dublin region, student accommodation rates are out of budget for most students. Maximum rent budget for most students is €500 to €600 per month, but purpose-built student dormitories are almost twice the price of a shared house. O’Carroll said the model is also detrimental for international students, many of whom are eager to get accommodation before or shortly after arrival.
“For accommodation to be removed from student use at a time when there are significant student accommodation shortages runs contrary to the aims of the National Student Accommodation Strategy and is deeply disappointing”, a spokesperson for the Department of Further and Higher Education said.