Renters caught in a perfect storm

NUIG students protest this week over rent rises.

Pressure on accommodation in Galway city is likely to hit an unprecedented high later this year – as spiralling rents now surpass the peaks of the Celtic Tiger.

The warning comes as NUIG students took to the streets this week to protest over a rental rise of almost one-fifth for the next academic year at the Cúirt na Coiribe complex on the Headford Road.

That rise of between €900 and €1,100 has already sparked a panicked frenzy of searches for accommodation for September – but a separate report from shows how difficult it will be for many students to afford a place in the private sector.

That revealed that cost of private rental accommodation in Galway city has rocketed by around 72% over the past seven years. In fact, city rents are now 34% above their previous peak at the height of the boom in 2008.

Rents are now averaging €1,131 in Galway City – up 71.9% since the market bottomed out in 2011 – and €777 in the county, a 52.2% increase on seven years ago.

That has led Galway Simon Community to warn that, because rents have spiralled so high, an unexpected bill on top of monthly rent could force someone into homelessness.

Emma Dolan, Head of Client Services at Galway Simon Community said rent prices in Galway are “out of control” and people are having to sacrifice basic necessities to pay for accommodation.

The rent hike for college students follows the sale of the Cúirt na Coiribe complex, which houses roughly 400 students.

New management defended the increase, and said it will bring it in line with other similar accommodation. They also have a €2m refurbishment planned.

However, NUIG Students Union leaders lashed Cúirt na Coiribe for its “gross attempt to take advantage” of members, and to exploit the shortage of housing in the city.

As well as hitting prospective first years and international students hardest, the hikes will have a knock-on effect in the general rental market, where properties are scarce and rents have already rocketed.

“It’s a rat race, and it’s getting worse,” said NUIG SU President, Lorcán Ó Maoileannaigh.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.