The race to rent

With the academic year now underway, the annual student race for accommodation is slowly reaching its conclusion. For most, it’s a case of substance over style and value for money. However, with the Dublin rental market currently experiencing its fastest rate of inflation since mid-2007, students will notice a sharp increase in rent prices for the year ahead.

The most recent rental report published in August showed a 7% increase in the price of rental accommodation in Dublin, compared with the same period last year. Driving the increase is a 43% drop in the number of properties available to rent, compared to a year ago. After hitting a low point in late 2010, rent prices in the capital are almost 10% higher in 2013.

According to economist, Ronan Lyons: “Demand for accommodation remains strong in urban areas, especially in Dublin. As a result, with properties shifting faster, students may feel more rushed when looking for accommodation for the year ahead.

Whereas a group of friends renting a four-bedroom house in Dublin may have to fork out between 10% and 15% more than last year, their counterparts attending ITs around the country will probably have their rent unchanged.”

Worryingly for DCU students, the cost of renting on the north side of the city has also risen. This year, students renting a 4 bedroom house in north Dublin city will pay an average of €1,567 a month.

Last year the figure would have been around €150 less per month, which marks an increase of over 10%. At the same time, a double room in the north of the city will now cost €423 per month, compared to €402 this time last year. The biggest jump is for those renting houses with 5 bedrooms or more, which cost almost 20% more.

These increased rates, along with the threat of further cuts to the maintenance grant in the upcoming budget, means that students already struggling financially could be priced out of the market. A recent survey by the Irish League of Credit Unions found that only a third of students currently live away from home whilst at university, compared with almost half in 2011.

A rising number of students are also beginning to take up cheaper, alternative forms of accommodation. DCU Welfare Officer Lorna Finnegan says: “many students are having to opt for ‘digs’ this year rather than sharing with other students or friends. Although many students do not like the idea of this, to me the local community have proved to be a great support system in helping to accommodate these students”.

The current situation means that pressure on parents and students to find accommodation is greater than ever. Like their counterparts in the public sector, increased expenses and cuts to funding mean that students are being asked to do more with less. With rent prices expected to rise even further over the next 12 months, it could prove to be a difficult year for those students who have no choice but to rent.

Darragh McGrath

Image Credit: AnneMarie Kelly

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