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Charity calls for more student accommodation to ease housing crisis

Published 24/05/2016

A housing charity has said the accommodation crisis in Ireland could be eased by taking students out of the private rented sector
A housing charity has said the accommodation crisis in Ireland could be eased by taking students out of the private rented sector

Students should be rapidly taken out of private rented homes countrywide to help ease the accommodation crisis, a leading housing charity has said.

Bob Jordan, chief executive of Threshold, said tax breaks could be reintroduced immediately to encourage developers to build more on-campus accommodation at colleges and universities.

These could be pre-fabricated or modular buildings which could be put up "fairly quickly," he said.

Speaking before a parliamentary watchdog investigating the chronic shortage of homes and rising homelessness, Mr Jordan said students should be taken out of the "mainstream" of private rented accommodation in towns and cities nationwide.

The move would "free-up immediate supply in the rented sector".

"Student accommodation should be on campus - purpose-built student accommodation that takes students out of the mainstream market," he told the special Dail committee on housing and homelessness.

"Students require a particular type of accommodation, they require it for a particular period of time and it should be affordable.

"There is an opportunity there to do that."

Mr Jordan suggested a reintroduction of the Section 50 tax break, which allowed developers to claim tax back for building, converting or refurbishing student accommodation.

The relief was one of a number of construction tax breaks phased out after the property crash.

Mr Jordan also criticised universities and colleges for increasing rents of on-campus accommodation in recent years so "it has become as expensive as it is in town, so there's no benefit to it".

"Any measure that it being introduced around student accommodation needs to make sure it is priced at an affordable rent for students and, let's face it, their parents," he told TDs on the committee.

Maureen O'Sullivan, Dublin Central TD, said fears were mounting about accommodation around Grangegorman, where a "massive influx of students" is expected with the opening of the new Dublin Institute of Technology campus.

"I am hearing stories of landlords who have had tenants for a number of years now telling them they have to leave because they are sub-dividing what was an adequate bedroom into two bedrooms for students because students will take that," she said.

Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, Independent TD for Longford-Westmeath, said he had lobbied for public-private partnerships to build student accommodation in Athlone - which has 5,500 students - but claimed the government was against it.

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