Subscriber OnlyBusiness

New law set to limit student accommodation leases to academic year

Legislation will ensure leases are confined to the academic year of 41 weeks, following move by some student landlords to switch to 51-week leases

The Government says it is committed to ensuring student accommodation leases next year are confined to the academic year, and will introduce new legislation before the summer recess.

Incoming taoiseach Simon Harris has been driving the initiative in his capacity as Minister for Further and Higher Education alongside Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. Plans to legislate have now been approved by Cabinet in advance of Mr Harris’s accession to the new role this week.

In a joint statement just before Easter, the Ministers said the decision to press ahead with the changes to planning laws arose following a move by some private student accommodation providers to switch from the standard, typically 41-week leases that cover the academic year, to 51-week leases.

The Irish Times reported in January that Hines-owned student housing platform Aparto and UK-owned student landlord Yugo had both switched to obliging students to commit to 51-week leases for the 2024/25 academic year, increasing annual rent costs for tenants. The vast majority of students use such accommodation only for the college year, which tends to run for 40 or 41 weeks, before returning to their homes elsewhere in the State or going abroad.

READ MORE

“Officials from both the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage are drafting proposals to make legislative changes to the Residential Tenancies Act before the summer recess,” a spokeswoman said last week in response to queries.

“Students are also reminded that student accommodation is within the remit of the Residential Tenancies Board, which provides a confidential dispute resolution service, should they have a complaint or dispute regarding their student-specific accommodation,” she said.

Student accommodation industry figures have said the decision to move to longer leases was motivated by an increase in demand from postgraduate and international students. However, the Irish Universities Association, the representative body for the Republic’s eight universities, decried the decision as “a retrograde step”, while Mairéad Farrell, Sinn Féin spokeswoman on further and higher education, said it was “not realistic for students”.

In a recent statement, Mr Harris and Mr O’Brien said the Government wants to ensure the new tenancy protections are in place before the new academic year.

“This situation highlights the need for us to be less reliant on the private rental market to house students and for Government to build more college-owned student-specific accommodation,” Mr Harris, who is expected to be elected taoiseach by the Dáil on Tuesday, said.

“We are already working with a number of universities to activate student-specific accommodation projects, and we also invited all universities to work with the Higher Education Authority to develop proposals for the development of more college-owned student-specific accommodation.”

Invited to comment, a spokesman for Aparto said: “We note the Government’s announcement and will await further clarification. Aparto will continue to comply with its legal obligations.”

Read More

Recommended