Changes to Rent-a-Room scheme 'will help several hundred students'

The scheme allows a homeowner to make up to €14,000 a year tax free
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.35 18 Aug 2022

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Changes to Rent-a-Room scheme...

Changes to Rent-a-Room scheme 'will help several hundred students'

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.35 18 Aug 2022

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Higher Education Minister Simon Harris says the Rent-a-Room scheme will help 'several hundred' students find accommodation this year.

The scheme allows a homeowner to make up to €14,000 a year tax free by renting out a room.

While recent changes mean people receiving social welfare will not see this affected.


He told Pat Kenny this was a big success in previous years.

"What we can do - and we are doing, and colleges are doing right across the country - is promote the Rent-a-Room scheme.

"In 2018, this scheme saw 3,000 students housed through what was traditionally known as 'digs' - you rent a room in a house.

"It's a scheme that's flexible, it's a scheme that can work for many people. In the middle of a cost of living crisis, it can work for a homeowner.

"If you have a spare room, you can rent that room - you're actually able to earn €14,000 a year without paying tax."

'Very significant interest'

On the social welfare aspect, he explains: "We've made a change this year: if you're on social welfare, you don't lose your social welfare.

"So if you're perhaps a person living alone and you get the Living Alone Allowance... you can take in a student, get some income from that and not be affected."

Minister Harris says there is already a big up-take.

"Since we've really started pushing this scheme... we're seeing very significant interest across the country: 102 rooms in Galway is one example.

"This September, what I'm saying very clearly to people [is] the Rent-a-Room scheme can help, is helping, is helping literally several hundred people today in finding accomodation.

"And every college in Ireland now has set an ability to have a register.

"So if you live near a college and want to offer a room, you can get in touch with the college - and if you're a student looking for a room you can get in touch with the college".

'Everything's on the table'

Asked if modular or quick-build homes could also be used to accomodate students on campuses, he replied: "Everything's on the table.

"We've made this very, very clear to the sector - I've written to presidents of universities saying we're open to any local solution at all.

"We've seen one in Limerick, for example, where a disused building was put back in to use.

"So whatever it takes, we won't be found wanting - but if we want to not be having this conversation in future Septembers, it is going to require a policy shift".

However he says student accommodation will have to be balanced with other housing needs.

"I also think we have to be really blunt here in relation to the reality regarding Ukraine.

"Our sector has put up its hand and tried to provide significant support - 5,700 units were provided by the higher education sector.

"The overwhelming bulk of them are now being returned, kind of as we speak, and through the month of September.

"But there will be a small number of private operators who have decided to extend those leases to help with the humanitarian situation.

"And it is a very delicate balance.

"I don't mean this in any way flippantly: one day people are saying 'What are you doing about student accommodation?'

"Another day people are saying to me 'Well how dare you remove somebody from Ukraine with three children to another part of the country'".

Main image: Higher Education Minister Simon Harris talks to Pat Kenny in Newstalk's Dublin studios. Picture by: Newstalk

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14k Rule Accommodation Pat Kenny Rent-a-Room Scheme Simon Harris Social Welfare Student Accommodation

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