UCDSU survey shows 55% of students paying over €750 for housing

UCD Students’ Union accommodation survey showed that 55% of the students are paying in-excess of €750 per month, from which 53% report difficulties on covering their monthly housing-related expenses, with 18% reporting it as “extra-difficult”. Overall, 43% of UCD students that answered the survey claim they are unhappy with their current living situation.

The survey was carried out during December 2021 and was responded to by 963 UCD students, from which 42.16% live on-campus and 30.84% live in private accommodation. The survey’s results show that facilities available within accommodation include the following: unrestricted access kitchen (89.93%), living area (84.84%), and Wi-Fi (88.37%). Most students (57.42%) report their living arrangements having a communal bathroom, as opposed to an en-suite or private bathroom (45.28%). 68.95% of the respondents have less than a 30 minute commute to UCD from their accommodation, however, 25% of students who do not live on-campus spend at least one hour on their commute to and from campus. 

The general discontent related to accommodation is taking its toll on education, the student experience and student mental health – 41.79% of the respondents agree that finding accommodation or their current accommodation has had a negative impact on their education, while 57% say that looking for accommodation or their current accommodation has had a negative impact on their mental health. 46.19% of renters claim the process of finding accommodation in Dublin was very difficult. In contrast, only 9.51% describe this process as being easy. 

In addition, 66.53% of renters do not know whether their accommodation is registered with the Rental Tenancy Board, and 94.80% do not have personal experience with the Residential Tenancy Board, Dublin City Council, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Council, or Threshold regarding tenant rights. 86.49% reported they are not aware of legal differences between tenant and licensee.

UCDSU President Ruairí Power spoke on the publication of the survey results: “The results of this survey are the latest indication that the housing and affordability crises are far reaching and having a hugely detrimental impact on UCD students. Students are faced with extortionate rents and insecure tenancy conditions, while a large numbers make do in sub-standard settings. The scale of the crisis demands immediate action from Government. An immediate ban on rent increases in RPZs is overdue.”

“The survey highlights the impact finding accommodation and difficulty in affording rent is having on academic progression and the mental health of students. Private landlords aren’t the only ones getting in on the act, UCD is charging excessive rents for on campus accommodation. Increasing supply is essential, but we also need to see an end to the practice of building only luxury accommodation on college campuses. Some respondents highlighted serious issues with the lack of legal protections for students in digs-style accommodation, highlighting the need for a deposit protection scheme and the replacement of the licensee system.” UCDSU’s press release stated that it is in the process of compiling a report based on the findings of the survey, in addition to conducting a focus group. 

“This is the first survey that UCDSU has carried out on student housing and is part of our ongoing efforts to advocate for fairer, more affordable and higher quality accommodation for our members. The survey had a total of 963 responses and while it is not an extensive look at the accommodation challenges facing the UCD student body at present, the results and the accompanying comments left by respondents provide a sobering look at how a dysfunctional housing system threatens the present and the futures of students and young people and therefore, our economy and society as a whole”, UCDSU’s press release says.