NewsGuide to surviving the college accommodation hunt – for parents

August 18, 2015

Within moments of your teenage son or daughter receiving their CAO offer, the initial feeling of relief fades quickly as suddenly the realisation hits, your baby is no longer a baby. For most teenagers, starting college is the start of a new phase of their lives. It usually involves leaving home for the first time and find their own space, under their own roof – albeit a shared and somewhat temporary roof. 

It might sound exciting for students but parents will face an uphill battle trying to find quality rental accommodation in today’s marketplace. In fact, students looking towards off-campus, private rental properties in Dublin, Cork and Galway this year will have a tougher time than their predecessors over the past decade. In each of the regional cities, the number of private residential units to rent (houses and apartments) are down on previous years and prices are up. This is a trend that we have seen in the marketplace since 2011/2012, unfortunately, it is a trend that will continue for another year at least. The reason for the shortage is quite straightforward. After the housing market collapsed in 2008 (arguably early 2007 but that is merely academic at this stage), construction ground to a halt. Even when the market showed signs of recovery, the cash simply wasn’t there for developers to go ahead with projects. When the money started to trickle in for development, affordable rental stock in student areas simply was not a priority. To add to this problem further, more than 30 rental homes were lost to the rental market every day for 18 months as investors sold their properties to homebuyers. As a result, rents in Dublin increased at a rate in excess of five times the rate of inflation.

All in all, this lead to a perfect storm of increasing demand and decreasing supply, which translates into huge competition for tenants in accessing rental properties and sharply rising rental prices.

Students will get support from their prospective college’s accommodation service and from the Students Union of Ireland, who are actively working on student-friendly solutions to the accommodation crisis. The SUI have a check-list for student tenants on their website setting out the basic requirements, for example, what services and utilities are covered in the rent, what safety concerns might there be etc.

The ideal scenario for most first year students will be to avail of on-campus accommodation. Most colleges and universities offer this service, however, it is limited. I am aware that some colleges give priority to first year students but this policy is not universal so students looking to live in college accommodation should make contact with the accommodation officer immediately.

For students who opt to rent off-campus, from a private landlord, be aware that you are unlikely to be the tenant of choice for most landlords. You will have to surf and for likely properties, turn up for back to back open viewings along with countless others, many of whom will – on paper at least – be more desirable tenants for the landlord. One way to countenance this is to come prepared, with your paperwork, deposit funds and at least one months rent in advance. And be ready to make an on-line bank transfer immediately as anecdotal evidence suggests that this is something competitive rental properties are commanding. A parental guarantee will almost certainly be required, however, you may find that only 12 month leases are on offer. Parents ought not to enter into a 12 month lease with the intention of leaving after 9 months, at the end of the college term. Not only will you forfeit the deposit, you might also be liable to pay the remaining term of the lease. Instead, decided whether your teenager will require accommodation over the summer months i.e. to keep a part-time job. If not, the choice are to keep searching for a landlord who will accept a shorter term lease or compensate the landlord by paying a slightly higher rent per month. This might sound unfair but if the marketplace allows it, it might be the most practical option.
it is important to have parental support, not just financially but also to provide a guarantee and to ensure that all legalities of the rental agreement have been complied with. All such lettings fall within the remit of the Private Residential Tenancies Board, or PRTB. Do ensure that the landlord has registered the tenancy with the PRTB. It is important that even where a parental guarantee is in place, the student tenant must understand their own rights and responsibilities.

Parents looking for help to secure a private rental property for their student children nationwide may contact to speak with a local house-hunter or email 

Carol Tallon