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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Greed and lack of oversight’ driving student rental crisis

Stephen Corrigan

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Absolute greed in a market with little or no oversight is how the President of GMIT Students’ Union described the situation where landlords are able to charge students up to €150 per week – only to turf them out at the weekend to fill their beds with Airbnb tenants.

Aaron Burke said students and their parents were being bled dry by a number of unscrupulous landlords who were taking advantage of their desperation to find accommodation in the city.

The overall shortage of beds, coupled with no oversight from any government department meant it was open season for a property-owner who wanted to take advantage of students, said Mr Burke – and they were ‘getting away with murder’.

“They’re capitalising on a market where there’s no watchdog, so they can do it. If any student comes across a landlord that’s doing this, they need to contact Revenue,” he said of landlords who might be taking advantage of tax concessions to have students in ‘digs’, only to use the room at the weekend for tourists.

A homeowner can earn up to €14,000 a year tax-free by letting a room out to a student – with most of these ‘digs’ only available from Sunday night to Thursday night, when the student must vacate their room and take all their belongings with them.

A post widely circulated on social media this week claimed that one landlord was charging 13 Galway students €700 per month each to share a house which was owner-occupied. It was alleged these students would be required to take all their possessions out of the rooms each Friday morning, as the owner operated an Airbnb at the weekends.

Mr Burke said such was the desperation of students that their parents were willing to accept this kind of treatment.

“You have parents putting down deposits on places they’ve never seen,” he added.

Some students in digs were the victims of very poor treatment from homeowners too, he said, with some landlords banning students from using the kitchen; some limiting them to cooking before 6pm; and others having a ‘lights-out’ time of 10pm.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Footfall down by 80% in Galway city centre

Stephen Corrigan

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Shop Street on Ladies Day of the Galway Races

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Footfall in the city centre was down by about 80% during what would normally be a bumper three weeks in the city, with this year’s Arts Festival and Summer Racing Festival both falling foul of Covid-19 restrictions.

Data compiled by the Galway City Business Association (GCBA) – which is a measure of mobile phone users at various points in the city centre – shows that there were over half a million fewer movements recorded during Race Week this year, representing around a 77% decline on the same week in 2019.

While the figures are by no means a conclusive count of individuals in the city, they do provide a good guide as to how many people are traversing the main thoroughfares over an extended period.

During the second week of the Arts Festival in 2019, just short of 900,000 movements were recorded in what was the city’s single busiest seven days of the year.

However, with the absence of the Big Top and various other Arts Festival venues this year, just over 150,000 movements were recorded in the same week this year.

Well-known city businessman and GCBA member Anthony Ryan said that the situation was gradually improving, but it was obviously a very different Race Week this year.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council orders removal of new footbridge

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The installation of a footbridge over the Middle River at Newtownsmyth has led Galway City Council to warn the adjacent property owner to remove the structure, or face legal proceedings.

Property developer John Curley, who owns the commercial unit involved at Abhainn na mBradán, has received instruction from City Hall to have the bridge removed by today (Friday) in what the Galway City Tribune understands is being treated as a ‘extremely serious breach’ of planning regulations.

Mr Curley told this newspaper that the €25,000 bridge could not be removed this week as his architect was on holidays, and he was still considering what to do about the Council’s order.

Mr Curley said businessman Eric Furey had opened a new café in the building two weeks ago – the building also houses Born Clothing and Papa Rich restaurant.

The bridge had been installed to coincide with the opening of Roots Café and both Mr Curley and Mr Furey argued that it was crucial to the business’ survival that there was access from the busy canal walkway.

“We are going to fight this,” said Mr Curley, adding that it had been their intention to seek retention for the bridge, but that had been ruled out by city planners who refused to give permission to utilise public land on the far side of the canal.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said: “Immediately on becoming aware of the installation of this structure across the canal, Galway City Council Planning Department requested the immediate removal of the structure.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Anger over illegal parking of camper vans in Salthill

Enda Cunningham

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Camper vans illegally parked on Rockbarton Road this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council has admitted that it is difficult to enforce bylaws banning the parking of caravans and camper vans on roads in Salthill.

It follows complaints from elected representatives and local residents again this Summer in relation to illegal dumping and ‘unsightly’ parking on the Promenade and alongside Leisureland.

Under the Council’s own Parking Control Bylaws 2009, parking of ‘temporary dwellings’ (which includes caravans, mobile homes, tents and any structure whether on wheels or not) is prohibited on the Prom; Quincentennial Drive (behind Toft Carpark); Rockbarton Road (adjacent to Leisureland) and on the Western Distributor Road. Council carparks are also off limits.

Local area councillor Donal Lyons said the problem seemed to be worse this year, which he believed is due to holidaying staycationers.

Councillor Peter Keane said that it is a ‘small few’ people that are giving caravaners a bad name.

“We welcome holidaymakers, but let them go into the caravan parks where proper services are provided, such as electricity and water.”

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said that the local authority’s experience was that it has proved difficult to enforce the parking ban over the years.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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