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Students win battle on rent hikes

A privately-run student accommodation complex has bowed to pressure and dropped plans to impose increases of up to 30% on next year’s rents.

Instead, Hubble Living on the Headford Road — formerly known as Cúirt na Coiribe — will up the fees by 2%, which is the maximum hike allowed in a rent pressure zone.

As revealed in the Galway City Tribune, the University of Galway Students’ Union mounted a vigorous campaign against the huge jump, getting TDs to raise it in the Dáil, lodging complaints in the Residential Tenancy Board (RTB) and attracting nearly 1,200 signatures in an online petition against it.

Students’ Union President Dean Kenny said their attention would now switch to keeping up the pressure on the newly appointed Minister for Further and Higher Education Patrick O’Donovan to make good on promises by his predecessor and new Taoiseach Simon Harris for the Government to directly fund on-campus housing.

The union official said the university has already lodged plans with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to build another complex near the 674-bedroom Dunlin Village on the north campus, opened last December at a cost of €95 million, with construction financed through university borrowing.

As there was no Government funding, students are charged rents of €1,000 per month instead of around €500 per month which are the fees in the older complexes such as Corrib Village.

“I don’t know what got the reversal over the line with Hubble but we are absolutely delighted. We got a good few residents to also lodge complaints in the RTB, which is the only remedy suggested in answer to parliamentary questions put by TDs Mairéad Farrell and Éamon Ó Cuív,” he explained.

“They’re still increasing prices by 2%, but it’s a lot better than the minimum yearly increase of €2,500. We had students who faced leaving college or facing into a summer of working around the clock to pay for that.

“It’s still ridiculous – over €1,000 per month – and that won’t change unless Minister O’Donovan hits the ground running and comes up with a student accommodation funding plan straight away.

“We need another Dunlin Village to have any real impact in the 2025/26 academic year. Things this summer are going to be worse than ever. We will have students again paying for their rooms all summer because they’re too afraid to give them up.”

He said students would no longer take rent increases like this lying down.

“They’ve shown this clearly with their actions to achieve this rent hike reversal.”

Describing the hike as “completely and utterly outrageous” Deputy Mairéad Farrell told the Dáil that Galway students needed basic, affordable student accommodation, without the addition of cinemas, bowling alleys and “Instagram-able views”.

“They end up paying thousands of euro to live in a room the size of a car parking space. To see that level of increase is simply unimaginable. It looks like it will affect more than 500 students in Galway, who are already paying some of the highest rents in Europe.”

The University of Galway has also decided to increase rents in 43% of rooms in its newer accommodation complexes next academic year and reduce or freeze rents in 57% of its beds in the cheaper or older blocks.

Dean Kenny said he understood this was because the more expensive complexes were snapped up first, mainly by international students.

“Last July and August we were being stopped by international students begging us to help with accommodation on campus. It’s heartbreaking. These people uproot from their families and there’s a lot of loneliness – they’re just left to their own devices and they cannot source a simple basic human right as a roof over their heads.”

Caption: University of Galway Students Union President Dean Kenny.

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