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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Greed and lack of oversight’ driving student rental crisis

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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

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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