Originally published in Volume II, Issue 12 on 29th April 1996 by Observer Reporters.
Accommodation costs for students will climb significantly again this September as landlords are forced to publicly register their properties, tenants and rents under the Housing (Registration of Rented Houses) Regulations 1996.
The requirement to register with local housing authority, which will force landlords to have their tax affairs in order, may mean some landlords will pull out of letting property altogether. Students may consequently be hit by a double rent rise with more people chasing fewer flats and the landlord passing on the burden of the tax and the annual registration fee to his tenants.
According to UCDSU Welfare Officer, Shane Fitzgerald, the lower end of the housing market will be most affected as landlords of that type are more likely to be unregistered. He fears the resignation legislation, while having many beneficial effects, will mean that the accommodation shortage of last year will worsen.
Describing this as “possibly the biggest thing since he came to office”, he says “not a lot can be done. This legislation is essential as a basic step to vetting landlords and ultimately ensuring than any property that’s substandard is taken off the market.”
“Lots of business people don’t want their finances to be public knowledge, and won’t want to register.”
“Technically, landlords are supposed to be paying tax anyway, and the effect of this law depends on its enforcement, but I don’t think the Minister would be spending so much time on this if things weren’t going to be supervised.”
Fitzgerald says the main benefit of the legislation for students will be that landlords will be more inclined to accept rent allowance if they are registered and declaring rental income for tax. “It will be a big plus for the marginalised sections of the student community.”
Asked if a student should accept rented accommodation that wasn’t registered if it were cheaper, Fitzgerald said it would be up to the individual student, but warmed that a rent book was”essential”.
One relief for the landlords, and potentially students, is the fact that accommodation where the landlord or one of their relatives resides need not be registered. Eligible relatives include parents, grandparents, step parents, parents in law, children, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces.
Last September, according to Shane Fitzgerald, there was a severe shortage of “affordable” accommodation for UCD students, with some students commuting from their home towns until late October/ early November; “Last year, the Students’ Union did more than ever to find accommodation for its members, to less effect than any other year. Next year we will be taking 1/4 and 1/8 ads in the Evening Herald to try and ensure we have a stock of landlords.”
He advises that students start looking for accommodation “as early as is financially feasible” next year.