Could the rent-a-room scheme ease the student housing crisis?

Homeowners can earn up to €14,000 a year

Could the rent-a-room scheme ease the student housing crisis?

Image: Martin Clancy/

Homeowners are being urged to consider renting a room to students as the housing crisis worsens.

It is part of a project by students' unions at University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and to increase the amount of digs on the market.

They have met with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy on this project and now want to meet Minister for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

They want the Department of Education to match the funding so the project can be expanded.

Homeowners who rent out a room could earn up to €14,000 a year tax-free.

Under Irish law, you do not have to pay tax on rental income from digs unless you pass the cap of €14,000 in a tax year.

The tax relief was introduced to increase the availability of rented residential accommodation.

However you cannot get tax relief for digs on private rental accommodation - it only applies to a place of primary residence.

New footage from the UCD Students Union (UCDSU) has been used to expose some of the properties being made available for rent - including a three bedroom house in Drumcondra that was being advertised as suitable for 15 people.

It comes as a new report from property website shows rents are continuing to climb past their peak from the Celtic Tiger.

While a new report finds 36% of students needed one to three months to find their accommodation.

Search for accommodation

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) say one in five students started their search for accommodation in August.

One in five students also experienced unexpected rent increases during college.

The USI is urging students who have accepted their CAO offers to start looking for accommodation immediately, in order to beat the rush to secure bed spaces ahead of college.

USI President Michael Kerrigan said: "The issue of housing permeates across all groups of our society.

"In recent years, the shortage in student accommodation has forced students, families and professionals to race for accommodation, and compete for somewhere to live.

"In many instances, this competition has pushed students to take accommodation that exists outside of their price range, or to drop out of college."

More than 25,000 students have already accepted their college places from the CAO.

"There is still a shortage of accommodation, and students are being crammed into small spaces, with harsh living conditions and horror stories of the state of living.

"While most of the accommodation has already been taken up, anyone who has already accepted their place at college should start making arrangements for accommodation right now before term starts to avoid disappointment," Mr Kerrigan added.

Find out more on the rent-a-room scheme here